cover image Already Toast: Caregiving and Burnout in America

Already Toast: Caregiving and Burnout in America

Kate Washington. Beacon, $26.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-80701-150-8

Washington chronicles in her wrenching debut the devastating ordeal of her husband being diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma and the two years she spent, from 2016 to 2018, taking care of him during treatment. Her life became a blur of doctors’ appointments, battles with insurance companies, juggling dozens of prescriptions, and learning to administer IVs. The work was all-consuming and led to a strained marriage that “felt less like a ballast keeping me on an even keel and more like a weight so heavy it could sink me.” After a stem-cell transplant, Washington writes, her husband saw a limited recovery but still lives with a chronically weakened immune system from chemotherapy. Her account ends with a persuasive plea for a federally funded caregiving stimulus plan, citing president-elect Joe Biden’s recent statement: “We’re trapped in a caregiving crisis, within an economic crisis, within a healthcare crisis.” Throughout, Washington notes the gender disparity among caregivers; with three-quarters of caregivers being women, Washington writes, “There was an implication that the only point of me, as a human, and especially as a woman, was to care for another person. What about my own life? Didn’t I deserve care?” Washington’s tale serves as both an evocative memoir and a strident call to action. (Mar.)