Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Monday, March 14, 2016

Memoir Monday and... The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients' Lives by Theresa Brown, RN

In a book as eye-opening as it is riveting, practicing nurse and New York Times columnist Theresa Brown invites us to experience not just a day in the life of a nurse but all the life that happens in just one day on a hospital’s cancer ward. In the span of twelve hours, lives can be lost, life-altering medical treatment decisions made, and dreams fulfilled or irrevocably stolen. In Brown’s skilled hands--as both a dedicated nurse and an insightful chronicler of events--we are given an unprecedented view into the individual struggles as well as the larger truths about medicine in this country, and by shift’s end, we have witnessed something profound about hope and healing and humanity.

Every day, Theresa Brown holds patients' lives in her hands. On this day there are four. There is Mr. Hampton, a patient with lymphoma to whom Brown is charged with administering a powerful drug that could cure him--or kill him; Sheila, who may have been dangerously misdiagnosed; Candace, a returning patient who arrives (perhaps advisedly) with her own disinfectant wipes, cleansing rituals, and demands; and Dorothy, who after six weeks in the hospital may finally go home. Prioritizing and ministering to their needs takes the kind of skill, sensitivity, and, yes, humor that enable a nurse to be a patient’s most ardent advocate in a medical system marked by heartbreaking dysfunction as well as miraculous success.

I saw on fellow book blogger Deb Nance's blog, Readerbuzz, that she received a copy of The Shift by Theresa Brown, RN to review. I don't know why, but these kinds of "behind the scenes" books just fascinate me. Lately there have been quite a few books published looking deeper into the medical profession. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi comes to mind, along with Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande, both books giving us a sense of how someone with a medical background views the meaning of life and dealing with the end of life. I remember also enjoying reading Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside
by Katrina Firlik, which for me was probably the first look at a Doctor as a person, and looking through her eyes at what she considers her just her "job".

Is it because I'm getting older that these books fascinate me?! At age twenty we really don't think of our own mortality yet, do we? For whatever reason these pique my interest, The Shift looks to be a worthwhile read... at least for us getting nearer to "over the hill".


Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I find myself equally fascinated with books about health. I loved The Shift. How can one woman be expected to care for so many patients? Being Mortal was compelling, too. Doctors just don't want to let go.

This should be my next Top Ten free choice list, I think. Top Ten Stories of Life and Death? Top Ten Hospital Tales? I'm pretty sure I could come up with at least ten.

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Deb!
I like the idea of the Top Ten list! And I'm sure you could definitely come up with ten! Thanks for sharing The Shift! And thanks for stopping by!

Anne@HeadFullofBooks said...

I gobbled up THE SHIFT. It was really eye-opening. I also like BEING MORTAL. That book seems really important to me and should be widely read.

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