A Nurse's Story

A Nurse's Story

Life, Death, and In-between in An Intensive Care Unit

Book - 2004
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The team of nurses that Tilda Shalof found herself working with in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a big-city hospital was known as Laura's Line. They were a bit wild: smart, funny, disrespectful of authority, but also caring and incredibly committed to their jobs. Laura set the tone with her quick remarks. Frances, from Newfoundland, was famous for her improvised recipes. Justine, the union rep, wore t-shirts emblazoned with defiant slogans, like Nurses Care But It's Not in the Budget. Shalof was the one who had been to university. The others accused her of being sooo sensitive. They depended upon one another. Working in the ICU was both emotionally grueling and physically exhausting. Many patients, quite simply, were dying, and the staff strove mightily to prolong their lives. With their skill, dedication, and the resources of modern science, they sometimes were almost too successful. Doctors and nurses alike wondered if what they did for terminally-ill patients was not, in some cases, too extreme. A number of patients were admitted when it was too late even for heroic measures. A boy struck down by a cerebral aneurysm in the middle of a little-league hockey game. A woman rescued too late from a burning house. It all took its toll on the staff. And yet, on good days, they thrived on what they did. Shalof describes a colleague who is managing a crashing patient: I looked at her. Nicky was flushed with excitement. She was doing five different things at the same time, planning ahead for another five. She was totally focused, in her element, in control, completely at home with the chaos. There was a huge smile on her face. Nurses like to fix things. If they can. Shalof, a veteran ICU nurse, reveals what it is really like to work behind the closed hospital curtains. The drama, the sardonic humour, the grinding workload, the cheerful camaraderie, the big issues and the small, all are brought vividly to life in this remarkable book.
Publisher: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, c2004
ISBN: 9780771080869
Characteristics: xiii, 337 p


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Apr 14, 2014

This book is one nurse's memoir of her career in the ICU, along with her group of friends. It is funny, serious, and (for me as an ICU RN) cathartic. I would recommend this to both nurses and non-nurses, especially those who want to know what nurses really do (hint: it's not just bedpans!)
Like several other readers, I read this book very quickly. As one of the other readers commented, it does deal with death a lot, but I think that that is because ICU nurses see a lot of death (which are often traumatic, horrible and distressing).

Mar 21, 2014

A great book, and one that people should read to educate themselves about the subject, just in case you end up in one of those predicaments. Like one of the other commentators here, I read this book in a day. Not a lot of non-fiction books are page-turners, but this one is!

ser_library Jul 03, 2010

the stories kept me reading so that i finished the book in 1 day, almost in 1 sitting

the points of view of the nurses, families and doctors which are given in numerous anecdotes would, i feel, be a great starting point for discussion

i have a renewed appreciation of nurses

Jun 15, 2010

I just loved this book. I don’t think it is suitable for a book group
as it is a biography and descriptive and once you get beyond that what
would you talk about, but it is a great read and very real. About a
nurse’s experience working in an ICU in Toronto.

I could not put it down (which is rare for me). Also, even though it
is written by a nurse who does not pretend to be a “professional”
writer the writing is gripping and engaging.

The only caveat is that it is graphic. If you don’t like hospitals and
medical stuff you might want to elide over some of the descriptions.

Nov 08, 2007

Well written but too obsessed with "do not resucitate" orders

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