Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Good Nurse by Charles Graeber

I picked up this page turner on my birthday, while I was away from home at a conference, my traveling companion was busy doing other things, and my family was far away.  I needed something to draw me in and help me forget that I was missing birthday among friends.  I am not sure where I first heard about this, but the minute I saw it on the shelf I knew it would be my birthday present to myself.  I love reading journalistic accounts of real life events.  I am interested and amazed to watch a writer recreate complex events and turn them into elegant narrative despite the fact the he or she was no where near the events of the story. This write especially was able to see and hear and interpret all that happens with his clever imagination and in the eye of his mind. The transformation and writing can be miraculous.
This story of an angel of death, a nurse who begins killing his patients, is a  difficult story to tell for a host of reasons.  Charles Graeber recreates the events of 16 years by reviewing police reports, hospital reports and interviewing the many many people why were involved, even the killer himself. The story is told in an exciting manner, first by following the nurse who is perpetuating the crime, and then by following the police who eventually clue in to his crimes. The difficult mitigating factor is the fact that the hospital was fighting the police who were investigating the crime. Hospital officials would never be complicit in investigating the system that allowed a nurse to kill multiple patients over and over. How bad would that look for the hospital?

The Good Nurse is a true life crime thriller complete with good guys, bad guys, and real heroes. It is scaring me away from hospitals for the foreseeable future.  Who know how easy it would be to get away with murder? I highly recommend this true crime/hospital drama.  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

True Stories of Becoming a Nurse

My life lately has been filled with nurses.  Between my father going into a skilled nursing facility, my son needing lots of doctor appointments, and watching Call the Midwife, I think about and interact with nurses all the time.  More than I realize.  Funny that way, doctors are the important ones, the ones we see for problems, but nurses really have all the answers, comfort, and common sense.  
Reading, I Wasn't Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse made me actually consider becoming a nurse.  Each essay, written by a different nurse, was thoughtful, articulate and presented me with a side of nursing I had not before considered.  The authors were mostly female, from all over the US and Canada, and most had discovered second careers in writing and had written about their working life with humor, pathos, and insight. 

There were nursing students, nursing home nurses, pediatric nurses, ER nurses, nurses in rural china, and nurses on ships that sailed to impoverished nations to aid the poorest of the poor, suffering from common ailments that would never bother us.  I read about nurses who dealt with AIDS patients in the era when no one would touch one and nurses who arrived at people's homes to check on them in their darkest hours.  There were hospice nurses, and nurses who survived cancer to go on and become nurses themselves and one beautiful essay about nurse whisperers: told from the point of view of the person watching the nurse care for her aging parents.  Great one!

I enjoyed every essay and would like to write to one woman who raises issues about HIPPA and confidentiality that I have always thought about and considered in my own career with writing circles and incarcerated women.  She articulated some of the things I think about with regard to storytelling beautifully.

The epigraph on the front of the book says, "required reading for anyone going into healthcare" I would go one further and say it is required reading for anyone needing healthcare.  Truly, that good.  Good work. Thanks Nurses!