Occasionally, I have time to read at work when the woman I take care of is napping, but I can’t read anything involving since I need to keep one eye (or ear) open in case she wakes and needs help. So I’ve been reading the forty-year-old Reader’s Digest Condensed books I found on her shelves. I read most of the books in unabridged book form when they were originally published, though I can’t recall many of the stories — that was about 15,000 books ago! I remember the covers, though, as well as the titles and authors, so that’s something, I suppose. Still, whether I’ve read the books before or not, reading them now gives me something to do.
Normally, I wouldn’t bother with the condensed books — it doesn’t take me very long to read a full-length novel, and though I can’t tell when reading the condensed version what has been edited out, I can’t really get into the story. The things that are left out must be the sort of thing that pulls me in and keeps me reading a book at a single sitting, because the condensed versions certainly don’t do that. Sometimes I go for weeks without a chance to read at work, so one of the stories I’m reading can sit there for ages without my being compelled to find out how it ends.
Normally, I wouldn’t have anything to say about condensed books because they simply are not a part of my life, but now they are. Sort of. In the same way that the news and commercials have crept into my life because sometimes I watch Judge Judy or the news with the client, which means lots and lots of commercials.
The good thing about the condensed books is I don’t end up with earworms or brainworms or sticky music or stuck song syndrome from them as I do from the commercials. You know what earworms and all those other terms are: they are all names for the bits of ditties that get stuck in your head that you can’t get out. The term earworm was created over 100 years ago, so apparently, this is an ongoing problem — one I got rid of after I stopped taking dance classes and before I started elder sitting. Oddly, the earworms that most infest my brain are from commercials for various drugs. No wonder people can remember what drugs to ask their doctor about — a whole lot of time and money is spent creating those earworms.
Sometimes I mute the commercial, but that is such an unfair trick to play on the elderly — they have no idea what happened when the sound suddenly stops. So I deal with the earworm, and the condensed books. They are such a small price to pay for the privilege of being a caregiver.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.