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Confessions of a Trauma Junkie: My Life as a Nurse Paramedic

Confessions of a Trauma Junkie: My Life as a Nurse Paramedic

4.3 13
by Sherry Jones Mayo

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Ride in the back of the ambulance with Sherry Jones Mayo

Share the innermost feelings of emergency services workers as they encounter trauma, tragedy, redemption, and even a little humor. Sherry Jones Mayo has been an Emergency Medical Technician, Emergency Room Nurse, and an on-scene critical incident debriefer for Hurricane Katrina. Most people who have


Ride in the back of the ambulance with Sherry Jones Mayo

Share the innermost feelings of emergency services workers as they encounter trauma, tragedy, redemption, and even a little humor. Sherry Jones Mayo has been an Emergency Medical Technician, Emergency Room Nurse, and an on-scene critical incident debriefer for Hurricane Katrina. Most people who have observed or experienced physical, mental or emotional crisis have single perspectives. This
book allows readers to stand on both sides of the gurney; it details a progression from innocence to enlightened caregiver to burnout, glimpsing into each stage personally and professionally.

Emergency Service Professionals Praise Confessions of a Trauma Junkie

"A must read for those who choose to subject themselves to life at its best and at
its worst. Sherry offers insight in the Emergency Response business that most people cannot imagine."
--Maj Gen Richard L. Bowling, former Commanding General, USAF Auxiliary (CAP)

"Sherry Mayo shares experiences and unique personal insights of first responders.
Told with poetry, sensitivity and a touch of humor at times, all are real, providing views into realities EMTs, Nurses, and other first responders encounter. Recommended reading for anyone working with trauma, crises, critical incidents in any profession."
-- George W. Doherty, MS, LPC, President Rocky Mountain Region Disaster Mental Health Institute

"Sherry has captured the essence of working with people who have witnessed
trauma. It made me cry, it made me laugh, it helped me to understand differently
the work of our Emergency Services Personnel. I consider this a 'MUST READ' for
all of us who wish to be helpful to those who work in these professions."
--Dennis Potter, LMSW, CAAC, FAAETS, ICISF Instructor

"Confessions of a Trauma Junkie is an honest, powerful, and moving account of
the emotional realities of helping others! Sherry Mayo gives us a privileged look
into the healing professions she knows firsthand. The importance of peer support
is beautifully illustrated. This book will deepen the readers respect for those who
--Victor Welzant, PsyD, Director of Education and Training The International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, Inc

Learn more at www.SherryJonesMayo.com
From the Reflections of America Series

Modern History Press www.ModernHistoryPress.com
Medical : Allied Health Services - Emergency Medical Services
Biography & Autobiography : Medical - General
Psychology : Psychopathology - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Editorial Reviews

Lovitt - Paige Lovitt
I highly recommend "Confessions of a Trauma Junkie" by Sherry Jones Mayo to nursing and EMT students. I think it should be required reading for them. I also recommend this book to people who are already working in the field. They will enjoy the stories and I believe that it will be reassuring to them to know that they are not alone in both their feelings and their experiences on the job.
Gelean - Betty Gelean
All told, this book will bring a greater understanding of just how much these very special people are capable of, how caring they are, and why some burn out so soon. I definitely recommend this book on many levels. Who has not had some connection to this field at some point in their lives. This is how it is, written faithfully and dealing more with outcomes and feelings than a gory tale. The book is very well written with a nice balance to hold the lay person's attention.
Koltes - Melissa Koltes
The stories within this book took me on such an emotional roller coaster but it gave me a sense of what they go through. Some stories made me laugh, some made me cry and others just broke my heart. The reader is allowed to know of the first death the author experienced on the job, the loss of children, family and coworkers but also lets you see the joy of camaraderie and the closeness that can only come from the experiences they have shared.

Product Details

Modern History Press
Publication date:
Reflections of America , #3
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Barnes & Noble
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File size:
672 KB

Meet the Author

Why you are uniquely qualified to write this book?

I can tell these stories because I have lived them. Like many, I grew up watching EMS and ER shows on television, and they seemed to focus on the hero aspect with predictable outcomes. While the television and movie representations are more true
to life these days, there are still thousands of untold stories. My slant is in telling the side of the story you may never know about: how the emergency services worker feels about his experience, how it impacts him (sometimes for the rest of his life), what he is thinking as he is going through the calls, how he internalizes most of the bad thoughts and experiences lest his coworkers or family consider him weak, and what happens after the call is over.

Why did you write this book?

Whenever I tell people what I do, they are immediately interested in what I have seen, the gory side of life that draws people and prevents them from looking away. What they don’t realize, until it happens to them, is that those horrible
experiences happen to someone who is loved and cherished, especially the children. I want people to see the world, for a moment, through my eyes, to walk with me through the broken glass, to sit next to me and hold the hand of the injured
or dying, to fight against death. And then I want them to see the complete lunacy of it all and laugh.

What do you think readers will get out of it?

I’m hoping that readers will see emergency service workers in a new light and realize we are human, too. We have our own challenges, pains and sorrows; we have surgeries and broken bones, we have been in accidents, and our backs are
killing us from lifting. The misperception I get almost daily in the ER is that “you don’t understand what I’m going through.” Maybe not, but you might be surprised. And while we hold our tongues during work hours, maybe some readers
will appreciate knowing what we are really thinking about after the call is over when we leave our professionalism back at the station, strip off the uniform, and settle into an easy chair at home.

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Confessions Of A Trauma Junkie 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
NBBoston More than 1 year ago
I would like to Thank Sherry Jones Mayo for putting this incredible book together for all of us out there in Emergency Services trenches of all kinds to read the story of so many of our own lives. I have never had the opportunity to read what I thought I was feeling through my 35 years in the field in the Emergency Services. I know in all our agencies the "F" word in Emergency services is Somethihg that for too long has NOT been taught in our Academy's our schooling or anywhere in most any of our trainings. That F word is "Feelings". Thanks Sherry for allowing us to hear, read and acknowledge what I thought I was going through in my career but could never adequately give a voice to it. You have captured it and given all of our "FEELINGS" a voice in Emegency Services and for that I thank you!! I felt as if I was riding in the same Ambulance along with you and hanging at the same ER. I have already highly recommended this book and it's reading of it to the many classes I have been a part of. I strongly encourage anyone from the field, from any training academy or simply anyone that thinks they are alone in feeling how we do about the last call we were on. You most likely think you are alone in your "FEELINGS" of what you just went through!! YOU are NOT ALONE!!! Thanks Sherry, I have learned a lot from your book and I have learned much about myself and my own personal reactions to what we in the Emergency Services we see in maybe a shift or even just a call. It is way beyond what most people do NOT see in their entire lifetime!!! I look forward to your next book and thanks for giving a voice to my experiences! Read, Learn and listen to what is being said in the stories and chapters within the content of this book and you too will feel as if you need to share this book with others!!! Thanks again Sherry. I had not heard of your writings until someone had told me about your book. If you have others or if there are others in the works please keep us all in the loop! Sincerely and thankfully, Neal Braverman
bruce_b More than 1 year ago
"Confessions of a Trauma Junkie" is a compelling and enlightening collection of stories in the life of a medical professional, telling us what goes on at the accident scene, in the ambulance and at the hospital when dealing with a variety of emergency situations. The stories are revealing, personal and touching, which gave me an appreciation of what EMTs and others do for the public many times each day while somehow maintaining their sanity. I especially enjoyed the "Dog in the road" story line, that made me laugh out loud! Buy this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a cardiac floor nurse I couldnt read another line after that scene on the airplane as if the ER nurse is the only one that can read a monitor, put a line in , take verbal orders, stabilize Pt then give report. Please, this is what we ACLS floor nurses do every day
readerbynight More than 1 year ago
You may never have the opportunity to read a book like this again. This true life documentation is an interesting look into the quality and care presented in the most traumatic incidents. Sometimes sad, sometimes humorous, the first part deals with Sherry Jones Mayo's time served as a paramedic. Vignettes of life, injury and death on the run. As with all traumatic jobs, there must be comic relief, and so there is, the "gallows humor" method of retaining one's sanity in an insane world. I do not use the word "insane" to mean anything degrading, simply as that is how the world appears in chaotic, traumatic incidents of life. You will find all of these in this honest non-fiction book. The second part gives the reader insight into who Sherry is, what inspired her, what obstacles she had to overcome in her own life, and where/how the breaking point can suddenly appear. No holds barred, this is again a very honest approach to her life at several stages, her love of family, and how incidents in the ER can impact her concerns for her family. She has seen it all. It is extremely difficult not to interpret what is happening at work with what might be happening to her own family. Separating family and work is definitely not as easy as in other occupations. The third part could well be called survival of the staff from the patients in the ER. It is, for the most part, lighter and a definite theme of how to survive the abuse of the patients. Told with tongue firmly planted in cheek, it is a day-to-day list of patience above and beyond when it comes to receiving patients who are not really sick or are just simply demanding. The people who are "too sick" to tend to themselves but can manage well enough to treat the caregivers like servants. Then there are the "regulars", people trying to get drugs by acting out pain and telling the doctors what they need. Here, too, "gallows humor" reigns from necessity. The fourth section covers in part living with grief, accepting it, healing, and remembering the positive. I found a personal connection in both getting through grief and, further in this section, the result of delayed grief. With delayed grief, it is an entirely different feeling and can hit at any time, even decades later. It lays buried, waiting until some trigger leaves a person reeling and not understanding why. The content of this section of the book was very helpful to me personally, and I highly recommend it on the merits of this segment especially. Referring to grief, Sherry is not only talking about the need for families of patients, but for those attending to the patients and their families as well. Hurricane Katrina brings Crisis Intervention to the forefront and demonstrates just how important this is. So little could be done by the rescue teams and yet they felt the need to have done more. This puts a great burden on these people and consequently on their families. This distinct section is a very important read, explaining a lot of errors and delays that occurred at the time. This portion and the following deal mainly with the very real problems facing even seasoned ER personnel and the need for crisis intervention. All told, this book will bring a greater understanding of just how much these very special people are capable of, how caring they are, and why some burn out so soon. I definitely recommend this book on many levels. This is how it is, written faithfully and true.
schauml96740 More than 1 year ago
Good Read about Emergency Services Personnel and what they face each day “Confessions of a Trauma Junkie” by Sherry Jones Mayo is a tale of life as seen by emergency services personnel. The author has told this tale through the use of multiple emergency services personnel, including herself and her daughter, to shed light on this fraternity of souls and the challenges they face. As an Emergency Medical Technician myself, this was a difficult book to read – it evoked many emotions for me as I was able to identify immediately with many of the issues. From Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following a particularly difficult call, to dealing with personal issues while trying to help everyone else, each story resonated with me on a personal level. Like the ‘Other Side of the Gurney’ “We’re Not All That Tough” when the author passes out while a loved one’s hand is repaired in the ER – it’s funny how we can be superheroes when it’s someone else but not when it’s our family. I had a similar incident with my son when he had a Big Wheel accident at age 3, and was bleeding down his whole face; my neighbor (not a medical professional) had to come outside to calm me down because I couldn’t do anything but cry and scream when I saw him.  I wish my family could have read something like this when I started in the emergency services 20 years ago…I think it is a useful guide for helping our loved ones understand why we do this and the sacrifices we make to live our calling. Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. © 2013 by Laura Schaumberg
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Twink More than 1 year ago
Sherry Jones Mayo has worked most of her life in the emergency medical field, as an ER nurse, paramedic and critical incident debriefer for both civilian and military employers. Mayo explores and shares her own life story, from the initial inkling that she wanted to be involved in healing (as a youngster she brought home a dead dog and put it in her mother's bed so she could 'make it better') to the present day. Her daughter has followed in her footsteps, working emergency situations as well. We are privy to her personal problems, struggles and solutions, dealt with using her own personal tenacity and the strength of her faith. Sherry has gathered stories from other medical personnel as well. I was totally captured by these tales. Many are heartbreaking, reinforcing the strength needed to deal on a daily basis with the unexpected. Others are laugh out loud funny - especially those from the emergency room. Confessions of a Trauma Junkie takes an inside look at what goes on behind the scenes and the toll it extracts from those who serve the public. It also celebrates the joy and satisfaction that come from that same service. Mayo writes with great honesty and the pride she takes in her profession shines through her writing. If I was ever in need of medical help, I'd want Sherry on my side. As Sherry says " I held her life in my hands as God held my hand steadily over hers. These are the moments that reaffirm why we do what we do, and renew pride in our profession as one of doing the type of work that not everyone was meant to do, but that some of us are privileged to do."
Tyler_TichelaarTT More than 1 year ago
Sherry Jones Mayo has written a tremendously informative and humorous book about the daily experiences of emergency services personnel, whether paramedics, EMTs, doctors, or nurses. After twenty years in the field, Mayo reveals multiple aspects of the job from caring for people who need emergency care, to experiencing tragic losses, difficult and often humorous patients, and coping with fatigue, emotional breaking points, and personal issues. Most books about trauma are written for the victims and their caretakers-so the caretakers (counselors, responders to an emergency, even family members) can help the victims. Although television dramas pay homage to the courage of emergency services workers-especially in the ER-these programs tend to treat the situations as heroic and dramatic rather than showing the actual real effects-the emotional and physical toll-these experiences have on the workers. Mayo provides multiple aspects of how emergency services personnel respond to trauma, most of it becoming their everyday work, but the deaths of children, cases of child abuse, or situations that resonate with their own personal tragic experiences can require immediate counseling and crisis intervention to protect the workers. Burnout is common, but so is the deep feeling of reward when the greatest efforts pay off. This book is rich in a variety of experiences ranging from doing emergency care on an airplane to helping overweight people out of their homes, and an emergency services worker experiencing an accident and then seeing things from the patient's side as her co-workers care for her. Mayo shares her own experiences throughout, but she also shares the stories of co-workers, her daughter who was inspired to follow in her mother's footsteps, and numerous other first-person accounts of helping in an emergency. While "Confessions of a Trauma Junkie" has numerous telling and moving stories, what I appreciated most was the humor. The humorous passages actually made me better understand how emergency services personnel respond to the most difficult situations, the boredom they have to deal with, and the need for humor as a coping mechanism. The workers also do not always receive the appreciation and respect they deserve. They become rightfully irritated when treated like servants, when they are threatened with lawsuits, or when the lazy try to take advantage of them, refusing even to sit up by themselves because a worker can pick them up. While Mayo's experiences occur in the greater metropolitan Detroit area, and a larger economically and socially challenged population exists there, I imagine emergency services workers need to deal with rude and inconsiderate patients constantly, whether in rural or metropolitan areas. Thank you Sherry Jones Mayo, for writing this book and reminding us how much we should appreciate the work of emergency services workers.I know several EMTs and nurses to whom I'll recommend this book wholeheartedly. I trust anyone who reads it will do the same. - Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D., author of the award-winning Narrow Lives
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've always had an extreme interest in the field of medicine. And emergency medicine, especially. Needless to say, I was immediately drawn to this book, based only upon the title. I discovered that it totally lived up to everything the title promised. Thinking about emergency medicine, you realize that the only "routine " in this field would be the non-routine, ever changing situations. Sherry Jones Mayo has the ability as a writer to draw you into the stories, you feel an affinity for both the workers and the patients. In truth, you do feel as if you are a passenger in the emergency vehicle with her. I can honestly say I felt the rush of adrenalin, the nervousness, the dread, the anxiety, and the humor of each situation. Emotionally, I was draw to each story, feelling drained by some, giggling at others, and actually feeling for every person in each story. I couldn't put this book down. Ironically, 2 days after I read it, my elderly father fell at his home. My Mother telephoned me, I rushed to their home, and made the decision to place a 911 call for help. As I watched the paramedics and emt working with my father, I was able to realize what they were feeling, and know how much they wanted to help him and ease my Mom's anxiety. I felt a new respect for these people, and the tenderness and compassionate care they show strangers on a regular basis. I have since passed this book on to four other people to read. All of them have enjoyed it tremendously, and agreed that it gives the non-medical person a rare view of the daily world of emergency medical personnel. I would consider this a must read for any one remotely considering entering this field of work, as well as anyone with an interest in medicine and the world of medical treatment. All patients would probably have a new respect for the emergency medical personnel who care for them after reading it. I look forward to reading other books written by Sherry Jones Mayo. Her storytelling abilities are excellent, and she has a real grasp of personality, plot and writing
BevE More than 1 year ago
Sherry Jones Mayo first time author opens the door to her world as a nurse paramedic letting the reader experience the world of trauma and the ER. Her passion for her work shines through as she describes her experiences in a collection of essays. Never once losing her sense of humor she writes about some of the most absolutely unbelievable and funny things patients do and say. She also describes her patients most vulnerable moments and sadly the patients she couldn't save. Whether your a medical professional or someone who is lucky enough to have never stepped foot in a trauma unit this book will open your eyes and heart into Sherry's world, giving you a better understanding of what it is like to answer the call for help.