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Tending Lives: Nurses on the Medical Front

Tending Lives: Nurses on the Medical Front

4.4 5
by Echo Heron

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A critical-care nurse in coronary and emergency medicine for eighteen years, Echo Heron has seen and heard it all. Here she recounts narratives of real-life medical dramas experienced by nurses across the country, sharing with us the inspiring, the tragic, and the outrageously funny: a penitentiary nurse who wasresponsible for orchestrating a murderer's


A critical-care nurse in coronary and emergency medicine for eighteen years, Echo Heron has seen and heard it all. Here she recounts narratives of real-life medical dramas experienced by nurses across the country, sharing with us the inspiring, the tragic, and the outrageously funny: a penitentiary nurse who wasresponsible 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, moment-by-moment memories of several nurses who served in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing.

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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
—Publishers Weekly

—Kirkus 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.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
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4.20(w) x 6.85(h) x 1.06(d)

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.

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Tending Lives 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nurses from many different specialties share their experiences through Echo Heron's impressive ability to portray emotion through words. I laughed, I cried, and I developed a sense of pride in being a nurse thanks to the stories of pure heroism in this book. I've read my copy to tatters, and I've bought many more copies for colleagues and new nurses I've mentored. You can't go wrong with this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tending Lives is an outstanding read. It is an emotional roller coaster full of passion from nurses in different fields. I myself am pursuing a career in the health profession, and this book motivated me even more to pursue my goals. Heron¿s writing keeps the reader on their toes at every moment, and she tugs at the reader¿s heart strings. I would recommend this book to nurses and future nurses. However, I think the everyday reader would enjoy this book as well. As a reader, I could feel the passion that Heron felt while writing this book. Through her descriptive writing, it is easy to see that nursing is way more than just a profession ¿it is a calling¿.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Love this book! I have bought many copies to give as gifts for graduating nurses and cant help but read it over and over again. The stories alternate between sad and hysterical- but they are all just great. Treat yourself, you wont be disappointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book because I have read many of her other books, that I also very much enjoyed. This book I loved so much! It is filled with so many emotional stories. I cried about 90% of the time. Being an EMT myself I could relate. It was wonderful and I highly suggest this book in the medical field, anyone wanting to be in the medical field, or anyone that just enjoys a great, heartfelt story or should I say stories. Read this book. You will not regret it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago