Monday, October 10, 2011

Caregiving Seeps into the Movies

With 65 million family caregivers in the United States alone, we are bound to see more and more movies with themes involving caregiving plus a few more with passing references to caregiving. Or, it’s entirely possible, that I now see caregiving everywhere since I am more involved with other caregivers and involved in caregiving itself. Kind of like when I bought my VW Jetta, all I saw on the road were Jettas. Everyone owns a Jetta! (Okay, not really. It’s a little trick the mind plays on us known as “the red car syndrome”).

Whatever the reason, caregiving has made it into the movies (and, no, I don’t think Misery counts).

On our day of little miracles we saw the movie 50/50. The movie is about cancer. And it is hilarious.

Yes, cancer and comedy do go together – who knew?!

I love a movie that makes me feel like a better person just for having watched it. Seth Rogen is not exactly someone I thought I ever would admire or be in a movie that moved me so much. He’s not the draw to a movie for me and I certainly don’t run out to see a movie because he’s in it. Matt Damon on the other hand – sign me up! (Although I have to digress to say he was completely wasted in Contagion and I would love it if Warner Brothers would kindly send me my money back).

Seth Rogen’s humor is a bit extremely crass and we all know crass humor can’t have any sort of redeeming quality, right? (yes, that’s me being judgmental and just a touch sarcastic).

50/50 is about a 27 year old man (an understated Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who learns he has a rare form of cancer. Really awful news to someone who declares he can’t have cancer because, “I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. I recycle.” In that short scene he sums up what anyone listening to a devastating diagnosis would think: this isn’t fair!

As I’ve recently learned, Seth Rogen is not just a comic whose range involves extreme profanity and acting like a complete jackass, he is a sincere and vocal advocate for education about Alzheimer’s disease . The film includes a character living with Alzheimer’s and touches upon the challenges of spousal caregiving. 50/50 also shows us that not everyone is cut out for caregiving yet others go about it in an unconventional yet loving and effective way.

I don’t want to say much more about the movie because I’m afraid I might give too much away (I’d be a terrible movie reviewer) but I do want to commend the writer, Will Reiser, for his light approach to such a serious subject.

The movie values friendship, love, family and humor and shows us there is no “right” way to be supportive. What’s important is being there.

Do you have an unconventional caregiving story to share? Does humor help you in your caregiving or is it all let’s-get-down-to-business-this-is-serious-stuff?


Jenn said...

I recently became an unprepared, accidental caregiver after my husband was injured in a motorcycle accident. We were stranded for 3 days in an icky, nasty hotel 6 hours from home. He was completely immobile and unable to get out of bed, let alone to the rest room to use the facilities. My strong, burly, fiercely independent husband became totally dependent on me. After a 2:15 am call from Mother Nature and the comedy of errors that followed, we decided that humor was the only way were were going to get through his recovery :)

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Jenn, That's a great approach! It's hard to be too upset about anything if you're laughing your head off! :-) I'm happy your husband is on the mend and I hope you don't have any more motorcycle mishaps. (You know how happy I'll be when you sell those bikes!).

Jenn said...

It's really hard NOT to laugh when the mishap involves a hand-held urinal :) As far as the bikes, those are considered therapy for both the caretaker AND the patient. Can't deny him of therapy!

Unknown said...

I saw 50/50 as well and really loved it. There was that moment in the movie where I thought to myself "this guy is simply using his buddy to get girls", but how great was is to find out that wasn't the case. Everyone deals with these kinds of things differently, but it's great to see these kinds of movies take a light-hearted approach to a sometimes scary situation. All we can do is laugh, right? Great post!

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

It may seem disrespectful to an outsider, but using humor to get through some really rough times is the best (and sometimes only solution if you ask me)! So happy when you stop by, Dennis. Thank you.

Heidi Alberti & Atticus Uncensored said...

I've been wanting to see this movie & love that you've written a recommendation. Now I must get myself to a theater!

I saw Seth & Will interviewed about this movie (it's Will's real life story you know) and their comedy plus compassion made me think this movie is a Must See.

From my experiences, humor plays a huge part in dealing with any situation -- even one as dire as cancer. Finding humor & comedy during the time I helped care for my father (cancer... death...) was imperative to keeping my sanity and clarity.

Just a few weeks before my father passed, while he was still at home, nurses came by a few days a week to check on him physically and mentally (cancer can cause a brilliant man to be...well... not quite as astute as usual).

The nurse was administering her mental acuity test and asked dad various simple questions. Some he got right, many were way off base. This was in the spring of 2008 and the final question from the nurse was "who is our president?"

Well, dad (always funny and witty) looks her straight in the eyes and says "they call him "W", but he's not My president!". Classic dad! and we all laughed (dad included).

Heidi (and Atticus)
"commentary to give you paws..."

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Heidi, I love that story! Humor is the only way to get through these difficult situations and I'm so happy you and your family were able to do so. Your dad sounds like such a wonderful man. He's still making people laugh with that line every time you tell the story! :-) I plan to see the movie again with my daughter. It really was that good to spend more time and money on it. Still waiting for my money back on Contagion!