Tuesday, March 03, 2015

A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas

A Three Dog Life, Abigail Thomas. Austin Tx.: Hartcourt Inc., 2006. e-book, 129 pps. including sample chapter of another book.

A Three Dog Life was a fortunate mistake. I was fatigued and browsing through some e-books for sale. My fingers slipped off the tablet but on the way, they hit the buy button. So I decided to read the book I had bought.

Abigail Thomas and her husband Rich lived in New York City. One night, he had a bad accident. That was the beginning of the upheaval. Rich was hospitalized. He had to have his forehead rebuilt. He didn't even look like himself anymore. He evidenced some personality changes. Abby found that she could not keep him at home. He was in one rehab hospital and then had to be moved to Lake Katrina.

I'd heard about Lake Katrina from some other members of a traumatic brain injury support group. "The art program is fantastic," they said, "but everything else sucks." I've been to the town of Woodstock-- where Abigail Thomas moved in order to be closer to Rich-- and some other places around the area.

The author settled into a nice little house with the dogs. The dogs were very good at comforting her, keeping her company, and providing companionship and entertainment. Rich had severe short-term memory loss along with some psychosis which dictated his placement in Lake Katrina. Abby goes up to see him once a week, usually Thursdays.

At one point in my life, I had three dogs. It was a fun time for me but I was also much younger. I find that one dog is enough now. If pressed or the right dog came around, I suppose that I might do two. But I'm not looking for the second dog.

My own dog stayed right by my side during those first few months after my traumatic brain injury when I was sleeping twenty two hours a day. I had a few of my own personality changes. Even my taste in reading changed. Although not free from mental and other complications, I am fortunate not to have any psychosis. I also consider myself fortunate to be able to maintain myself in the community rather than have to go live in Lake Katrina or somewhere.

Abigail Thomas indicated in her book that the art program at Lake Katrina is wonderful [so that has not changed]. She offered no complaints about the care given to Rich there [so hopefully that has changed]. She claimed that Rich will sometimes say things about situations that he has no knowledge of. I leave that to the reader's own judgement. My own cognitive difficulties demand that I take a pragmatic approach to life.

sapphoq reviews says: I was very interested in what Abigail Thomas had to say because she is a family member. I've read books by t.b.i.-ers [or t.b.i. survivors] and books by clinicians and a few books by clinicians who have had brain injuries themselves. I'm not sure that I've ever read an entire book by a family member. Now I have.
A Three Dog Life was a breezy read. The author's talent for words clearly showed in the pages. I liked her and I liked Rich too, or what I know of them from the book. Rich was quoted as saying some lyrical almost poetic things mixed in with things that demonstrated his aphasia. I came away knowing that Abigail Thomas loves her husband very much. She did not get into whining or complaining about how "horrid" his brain damage made her life or anything like that. I highly recommend this book to survivors, family members, and anyone that knows someone with a traumatic brain injury.

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