“Everyone I’ve ever known, loved, kissed, sat next to on a bus, watched on TV or hated in the third grade is going to die. Everyone. And I am the midwife to the next life for some” – Thomas Schwarz in I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse.
The New York Times calls I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse, a new anthology of essays by 21 nurses, “beautifully wrought, but more significantly a reminder that these ‘semi-invisible’ people,” as author Lee Gutkind calls nurses, are now the “indispensable and anchoring element of our health care system.” Jane Gross, the Times reviewer (who just so happens to be the daughter of a nurse), thinks nurses will love the new tome.
As Gross mentions in her review, there are 2.7 million registered nurses working in the United States today, compared with 690,000 physicians and surgeons. Gutkind, in the intro to his book, writes that that number is expected to “grow to 3.5 million in the next half dozen years, as members of the baby boom generation require hospitalization and home or hospice care.”
Gutkind selected the 21 essays from a submission pool of 200+ and was touched by the vast variety of stories he received. As he admits in the book, though “irreplaceable” nurses were the source of comfort and security during his family’s multiple health trials, “I cannot not tell you what any of the nurses looked like, what their names were, where they came from.” Sad, but not news to nurses (though if this book is his apology, it’s a pretty good one!).
Many of the essays revolve around a common theme: Nursing duties can be tedious but have profound implications. Eddie Lueken, a nurse of 30 years, wrote about her student years, a time when she was buried in homework but spent time working at a hokey restaurant where she had to wear a cowboy hat. She “yearned for the adrenaline rush of paddling people back to life; instead, she wound up mastering bedmaking, denture care for the terminally ill and measuring the diameter of bed sores,” writes Gross. Lueken goes on to describe how those duties changed her life.
Would you read a book like this? Let us know in the comments below!
Source: The New York Times