TUMBLING AFTER: Pedaling Like Crazy After Life Goes Downhill

Susan Parker, Author . Crown $24 (288p) ISBN 0-609-60856-8

Freelance writer Parker charts life with her "quad" husband Ralph, a nuclear physicist who became a C-4 quadriplegic after a bicycling accident, in this poignant and sometimes hilarious memoir. Because of poor insurance coverage, Parker can only afford to hire "non-green card holders; people right off the boat or just out of the clink; alcoholics and drug addicts... people desperate for jobs of any kind" to meet Ralph's many needs. (Paralyzed from the shoulders down, Ralph must be fed, cleaned, medicated, carried, catheterized....) After several disastrous experiences with live-in helpers, the couple has successfully shared their home for the last six years with Jerry, a sweet-natured, card-playing ex-con who became Susan's lover, and Harka, a preppy, culture-shocked Tibetan. The extended family includes Mrs. Scott, a 300-lb., gospel-singing neighbor who cooks, shops and provides spiritual support; Jerry's ex-wives and children; and several ethnic members of their community. Transformation stories abound. The author overcomes anger, hostility, depression and loss of friends; endures financial instability; builds new friendships and a satisfying family life; and becomes a columnist and radio commentator. Her husband survives serious falls, overdoses and septic infections; creates his own Web site; trades stocks online; and becomes a disability activist. Daily life continues to be unwieldy, but the strength and optimism this family displays is heroic. This uninhibited account will take readers to the heart of the predicament faced by quadriplegics and their families, and there they will be entertained, touched and amazed. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/04/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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