Michele DeMeo, CRCST, CSPDT, is considered an expert in the hospital central sterile supply field, a profession responsible for the cleaning, disinfection and sterilization of surgical instrumentation. She is highly regarded for her management techniques, knowledge, expertise, professional product developments, and many contributions to various healthcare associations and professional publications. Beyond that, she has worked as an independent consultant, global educator, national and international sterile processing standards development contributor, author, and activist for many causes.
DeMeo is now tackling another important role -- learning to find peace and live well in the face of a terminal illness, and sharing her wisdom and personal experience with the world through her newly-published book, “The Beauty of a Slow Death.” Diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2010, DeMeo was immediately faced with the reality that this terminal illness would rob her of the life she had come to know. But rather than throwing in the towel and succumbing mentally and emotionally to this debilitating disease, the diagnosis wound up serving as the impetus behind her most important goal thus far: to start living well, as if each day were her last.
While DeMeo is a widely published author for some leading healthcare journals and trade publications, some may question why she chose to put her painful experience into words and carve out already limited time to author a book. Her response is aptly suited to her kind and compassionate nature: if her experience can help even one person live better and more fully, even in the face of a devastating disease or other major life challenge, then the hard work is more than worthwhile.
Indeed, “The Beauty of a Slow Death” is doing just that. Several hundred copies have already been sold and reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. “We all are on our own journey, and Michele has taken the time to share with us her journey. The honesty she has shared about her journey and her transformation is inspirational,” says Stephen Kovach, director of education for Healthmark Industries.
In addition to the many individuals who have shared how the book helped and inspired them, it’s also earning praise from a number of prominent healthcare organizations, including those that target ALS, and those representing hospice, palliative care, home health, and more.
“This book is a perfect reflection of what I see when people face life head on,” says Susan Walsh, RN, ACNS-BC, regional nurse coordinator for Greater Philadelphia Chapter ALS Association. “This book is not about dying a slow death, but the choices that everyone makes to fully live the life they have.”
Although the book is about DeMeo’s experience with living with ALS and dying a slow death, she, too, believes that its core message is for everyone. “Whether we’re told we have days or months to live, or we have every reason to believe that we’ll be here 50 years or more, the bottom line is we owe it to ourselves to live the best we can,” she says. “Our life goals and abilities may change over time, but we still have the power to take charge of our lives in a positive, meaningful and productive way.”