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Author describes what to expect as a caregiver

COURTESY PHOTO BY LOMA SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY - Lauren Smith wrote her new book, 'When You Feel Like Strangling the Patient: Love and Support for the Caregiver,' after her experience caring for her husband Stephen (left) after a cardiac episode.Lauren Simon never expected the barrage of emotions she would be hit with when she was thrust into the role of caregiver for her husband.

The West Linn resident thought she would be filled with only love and gratitude when her husband, Stephen Simon, was on the road to recovery after suffering sudden cardiac arrest four times on Nov. 3, 2011.

But Lauren Simon was shocked by the other feelings that bubbled to the surface, feelings of loneliness, frustration, irritability and anger. While the hospital armed her with binders filled with detailed instructions for her husband’s recovery, there was no survival guide in that pile for her new role as primary caregiver for a patient.

Feeling at times overwhelmed, unsettled, alone and even upset with her husband, Lauren Simon began journaling to make sense of what was at the core of those emotions.

In her newly released book “When You Feel Like Strangling the Patient: Love and Support for the Caregiver,” Lauren Simon opens up about those feelings, provides a “what to expect” guide and shares her experiences and those of other caregivers. The book also includes tips to help caregivers take care of themselves, inspirational passages, checklists and an abundance of lessons from others who have walked in the same shoes.

“I want people to know they are not alone,” Lauren Simon said. “They have a right to have feelings of their own. By letting go and allowing our authentic feelings and reactions to exist no matter what they look like, we can move through challenging times more smoothly.”

The public is invited to attend a book-signing event from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Stafford Hills Club, 5916 S.W. Nyberg Lane in Tualatin. Guests will enjoy complimentary wine, appetizers and valet parking. The author will be signing copies of her book, and copies will be available for guests to purchase.

“I was angry with Stephen and it really shocked me,” Lauren recalls. “For years, I was worried that something like this would happen because he was not taking care of himself like he promised me he would. I was terrified of losing him.”

In her book, she adds, “Healing begins when we speak our truth, and it gives others permission to do the same.”

In time, she shared her journal passages with her husband, who has wholeheartedly embraced a healthy lifestyle in the years following the night his heart stopped four times.

“I admit it was hard to read, but I could see that Lauren tapped into something important that needed to be shared with the world,” Stephen Simon said. “I encouraged her to keep writing even though it was painful for her to do and took her to dark places at times. I’m very proud of Lauren for having the courage to empower other caregivers.”

This book also provides Lauren Simon with a way to support the work of the firefighter paramedics and other medical professionals who saved her husband’s life nearly four years ago. All proceeds from her book sales at community events, including Friday's launch event, will be donated to Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue’s Automated External Defibrillator Grant Program, which will enable the district to award reimbursement grants to eligible organizations that purchase AEDs for their facilities.

For more information about the book, visit its website.

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