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Over three decades, more than 4,000 patients and their loved ones have shared "their most wrenching ultimate experiences" with Culkin, a critical care nurse living near Seattle. In this compelling memoir, her moving reflections on life and death interweave clinical encounters with her own life. She looks back at the "clockwork of hormones" as she began her relationship with her future husband while working 12-hour shifts in a San Francisco intensive-care nursery, moving on to become a traveling nurse in Anchorage, then living in the Alaskan wilderness, "completely alone at the edge of the civilized universe." Her marriage, sons, problems with her parents and family dynamics intertwine with memories of patients extricated from wreckage and an impromptu procedure in a helicopter on a patient who couldn't breathe. Culkin details the "sisterhood" of nursing, with its risks and stress and sharing "cups of 0900 coffee," and her own bouts with multiple sclerosis. Describing her life as a flight nurse in the final chapters, Culkin sees herself and others clearly, and poetic juxtapositions make her sentences soar. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.