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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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-07-27
- Reviewer: Staff
Books about nurses abound, but this meticulous, absorbing shift-in-the-life account of one nurse’s day on a cancer ward stands out for its honesty, clarity, and heart. Brown, a former Tufts University English teacher who later became a nurse, juggles the fears, hopes, and realities of a 12-hour shift in a typical urban hospital with remarkable insight and unflagging care. “To be in the eternal present of illness and unease, never knowing the future,” a weary Brown writes at the end of her long day, “it’s where my patients live so I, ever hopeful, live there with them.” Brown’s shift on one cold November day is focused on four patients. Dorothy, whose leukemia is in remission, is waiting to go home. Sheila’s excruciating abdominal pain turns into a life-threatening surgical emergency. Richard will get a drug that will help his body kill its cancer cells—unless the drug kills him first. Candace, enduring a long hospital stay for an intravenous infusion of her own cancer-free cells (an autologous transplant), says it “feels like an emotional chess game.” Brown notes that “an oncology nurse’s favorite words to a patient are ‘I hope I never see you here again.’” Her memoir is a must-read for nurses or anyone close to one. (Oct.)