Tending Lives: Nurses on the Medical Front

Tending Lives: Nurses on the Medical Front

4.4 5
by Echo Heron
     
 

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As the healthcare debate rages on with the growth of the HMO industry, nurses quietly continue to provide the day-to-day grit and deeply-felt passion that hold the healing profession together. Within these remarkable women and men are poignant, outrageous stories drawn from the edge of life. But fear of career backlash and reprisals have made them reluctant to talk to…  See more details below

Overview

As the healthcare debate rages on with the growth of the HMO industry, nurses quietly continue to provide the day-to-day grit and deeply-felt passion that hold the healing profession together. Within these remarkable women and men are poignant, outrageous stories drawn from the edge of life. But fear of career backlash and reprisals have made them reluctant to talk to outsiders about their experience. Now Echo Heron, New York Times bestselling author of Intensive Care, draws truths far stranger than fiction out of her colleagues--and allows the nurses to speak to us in their own words.

Ranging from inspiring to tragic to outrageously funny, these narratives are real life medical dramas as experienced by nurses across the country--each practicing in a variety of specialties, including cardiac care, labor and delivery, burns, the ER--even a nurse who works in dolphin care.

Tending Lives portrays a penitentiary nurse responsible for orchestrating a murderer's execution; a stroke victim who rose out of his depression when his nurses began telling him jokes; and, perhaps the most riveting testimony, the moment-by-moment memories of several nurses who served in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing--gripping accounts that give us new perspectives on the horror and heroism of that nightmare day.

Pediatric nurses, psychiatric nurses, home-care nurses, intensive care nurses--all with distinct voices and unique stories to tell. Filled with both tears and laughter, and charged with the issues that afflict nursing care today, Tending Lives is a gripping, moving, inspiring book, a fitting tribute to a noble profession.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Heron, a California nurse who has written previously about her professional experiences (Intensive Care: The Story of a Nurse) collects oral histories drawn from interviews she taped with nurses who represent many aspects of the field. The majority of the deeply involving selections emphasize the strong commitment to caring that characterizes these health professionals and their struggle to dissociate enough from their patients' sufferings so that they can be effective. Many of the nurses, such as Margie O.'s description of geriatric nursing and Diane C.'s account of caring for an abused baby, express extraordinary compassion. A highlight is the chapter of interviews with nurses who treated victims of the Oklahoma City bombing. One unusual contribution, by Calista H., details the assistance he provided at an execution in which a lethal injection was administered. Author tour. (June)
Library Journal
Heron's earlier books, Intensive Care: The Story of a Nurse (Ivy, 1988) and Condition Critical: The Story of a Nurse Continues (LJ 3/1/94), were personal narratives reflecting the author's experiences as a nurse and her views on hospitals and the industry that is healthcare today. Her latest volume invites colleagues to share their stories. Some are heartbreaking, others hilarious (if you think you've had a bad day, read Carol P.'s story of her encounters with Delbert and Mr. X). A brief introduction to each contributor provides background about age, education, and specialty (trauma, pediatrics, etc.). Vignettes may be as short as two pages. On the other hand, in the book's longest chapter five nurses laboring behind the scenes through the tragedy of the Oklahoma City bombing bring the confusion, sadness, and professional grit vividly to life. Unless you can handle an emotional roller coaster, savor this book one chapter at a time. Either way, it is a welcome addition to nursing or larger health collections.Anne C. Tomlin, Auburn Memorial Hosp. Lib., NY
Kirkus Reviews
The first-person stories of some 40-odd nurses in a variety of fields reveal in a sometimes shocking and sometimes comical fashion what the caring profession is really like. In her search for interviewees, Heron, who told of her own life as a nurse in Intensive Care (not reviewed) and Condition Critical (1994), found few nurses willing to talk openly about their experiences. Thus, the identities of many of the speakers here are concealed by pseudonyms. Heron sought out nurses, male and female, old and young, from a broad geographic and professional spectrum. After introductory biographical sketches, she lets the nurses tell their stories in their own words. Although individually uneven in quality and interest, collectively the stories provide a convincing portrait of nursing as a beleaguered but honorable profession, full of weary, caring men and women. Besides the usual emergency-room tales of dreadful trauma and outrageous behavior and poignant stories of death and dying on intensive care units, a prison nurse matter-of-factly describes the execution by lethal injection of a death-row inmate, a movie-set nurse tells of coping with the tender egos of Hollywood actors and actresses, and an operating-room nurse gives a quick rundown of the typical personalities of surgical specialists (urologists have a bawdy sense of humor, neurologists are total prima donnas). Doctors generally do not fare well in these stories, and the flaws of todayþs profit-centered health-care system are duly noted and railed against. Of special interest is the chapter on the Oklahoma City bombing, for which Heron interviewed five nurses, with follow-up reports weeks, months, and a year after the bombing.Enlightening for anyone considering entering the field, but unsettling for anyone contemplating entering a hospital.

From the Publisher
"DEEPLY INVOLVING."
—Publishers Weekly

"ENLIGHTENING . . . REVEAL[S] IN A SOMETIMES SHOCKING AND SOMETIMES COMICAL FASHION WHAT THE CARING PROFESSION IS REALLY LIKE."
—Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307560537
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/04/2009
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
232,907
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Echo Heron is the author of the bestselling Intensive Care: The Story of a Nurse; Condition Critical: The Story of a Nurse Continues; and the medical thrillers Pulse, Panic, and Paradox. She was a critical-care nurse in the San Francisco Bay Area for eighteen years and is a spokesperson for nurses and patients' rights. Ms. Heron and her cat, Mooshie, currently reside in California.


From the Paperback edition.

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