Jan's Story by Barry Petersen is a story about the tragedy of watching his wife, Jan Petersen; suffer through early onset Alzheimer's. The story demonstrates the difficulty of a patient living with a progressive brain disease, such as Alzheimer's, and the effect is has on loved ones (Bonham, 2014). Every chapter encompasses the rapid decline of Jan and her inability to remember her daily life as well as her loved ones. Barry's honest commentary on his life depicts the immeasurable amount of pain early onset Alzheimer's can cause. In the book, Barry refers to Jan's Alzheimer's as "The Disease", this "wickedly cunning" disease has the power to not only destroy the memory of someone but also loved one's around them (Petersen, 2010). While the book illustrates Jan's struggle dealing with The Disease, this story is about Barry slowly passing through the stages of grief and the tough decisions he has to encounter when making decisions about the best care for his wife. I find it important to educate myself on the way Barry cares for the needs of Jan throughout her battle with Alzheimer's as I go into the medical field. .
Diagnosing Alzheimer's can often be a slow and anti-climactic process. The Alzheimer's Association explains it as a process of small deficiencies that loved ones might begin to notice. Problems with memory, concentration, word finding, name finding, and misplacing objects are some early signs of early onset (www.alz.org, 2014). Jan appeared to be healthy from the outside but was beginning to lose her sense of logic and reason (Bonham, 2014). Because Alzheimer's is sluggish, denial came easily to Barry. In the beginning of the book, Barry supported Jan as best as he saw fit which included taking her to certain doctors and any other arrangements she needed. He was her primary caretaker, which caused a great amount of stress. As time progressed, Barry could no longer be the sole caretaker of Jan.