An author, photographer and speaker who should spend more time with butt in chair to write, Monica Vest Wheeler focuses on listening, collecting and sharing the emotional and everyday challenges of living with and caregiving for brain-related injuries, illnesses and diseases.
Monica studied journalism, and after a dozen years working community newspapers, she “burned out” and left her job in 1992. Then she discovered the joy of creating regional history books, producing nearly a dozen in the next 25-plus years.
Her passion also turned to the emotional complexities of catastrophic health issues like cancer, Alzheimer’s, stroke, traumatic brain injury and more. She’s spent thousands of hours working with and interviewing hundreds of patients, survivors, families and caregivers, and healthcare professionals. This takes her on the road thousands of miles every year as she has volunteered for nearly 120 Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camps™ since 2008, and 30 brain injury camps since 2012 from coast to coast.
Monica’s mission is to educate, enlighten, engage and entertain on the topic of caregiving and the human side of brain challenges. Her personal caregiving experiences — for her father-in-law, mother and cousin — also bring a unique empathy to individuals and audiences. She’s facilitated hundreds of intimate group discussions for Alzheimer’s families and stroke survivors and caregivers to reassure them that while their experiences are unique, they are not alone. She also puts a “face” on brain injuries, illnesses and disease with her photography that shows that there is still life to be lived … and enjoyed.
Home has been Peoria, Illinois, since 1979 when Monica married Roger Wheeler, who remains her chief cheerleader, though he refuses to wave pom poms. They have a son, Gordo, and two rescue cats, Gabriel and Bling, both of whom have special needs and have found a special home.
Books & Publications
Monica's books and digital publications focus on the core messages of compassion, common sense, and communication. The mission of these publications is to provide individuals, families, and caregivers with valuable insight and opportunities to reflect, while also providing information and support needed while coping with the everyday challenges and emotions of health-related issues.
Alzheimers, Dementia & Memory Loss (Paperback)
In Alzheimer’s, Dementia and Memory Loss, you’ll learn from other caregivers and family members how to release the frustrations, loneliness and grief of caring for a loved one who seems to be slipping away because of these devastating conditions.
My goal is to comfort you with honest, easy-to-absorb suggestions that help you see that you aren’t alone in your struggles. You’ll find answers on every page. Even more importantly, you’ll find the courage to communicate your needs.
50 Answers to Everyday Caregiver Challenges (Paperback or Digital)
"To see what I see, you’ve got to be where I am.”
While the story of one survivor and/or caregiver can be extraordinarily moving, real life demands that you educate yourself in many classrooms to stretch your imagination and discover new resources and be reminded that you are not alone.
Because every stroke and individual is different, this book provides the perspective of hundreds of survivors and caregivers to bring the diverse realities of stroke into closer focus.
Meet Me in Myrtle (Kindle)
A unique and engaging first-person account of how the paths of two women crossed in coping with the loss of loved ones. Monica writes of how she continued to struggle with grief several years after her mother-in-law's passing, until she connected with a friend's sister, Susie, who was dealing with the recent loss of her boyfriend. Both discover much about life and love as they meet in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for a weekend to console each other.
This book is an excellent resource for grief support groups. It includes talking points to stimulate conversation about a necessary, yet delicate, subject.
Strike Out Stroke Children's Coloring Book (Paperback, Volume Discounts)
Join Eddie and Ella as they teach youngsters how to recognize and respond to a stroke emergency. Delightfully illustrated, this well-constructed, 8.5x11 inch, 8 page coloring book is a wonderful teaching tool.
Created in conjunction with Strike Out Stroke (www.strikeoutstroke.com) and Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp (www.strokecamp.org). A portion of proceeds are donated for every coloring book sold.