Friday, April 9, 2010
Confessions of a Trauma Junkie, my Life as a Nurse Paramedic by Sherry Jones Mayo, RN, EMTP, NCCM,
You may never have the opportunity to read a book like this again. This true life documentation is an interesting look into the quality and care presented in the most traumatic incidents. Sometimes sad, sometimes humorous, the first part deals with Sherry Jones Mayo's time served as a paramedic. Vignettes of life, injury and death on the run. As with all traumatic jobs, there must be comic relief, and so there is, the "gallows humor" method of retaining one's sanity in an insane world. I do not use the word "insane" to mean anything degrading, simply as that is how the world appears in chaotic, traumatic incidents of life. You will find all of these in this honest non-fiction book.
The second part gives the reader insight into who Sherry is, what inspired her, what obstacles she had to overcome in her own life, and where/how the breaking point can suddenly appear. No holds barred, this is again a very honest approach to her life at several stages, her love of family, and how incidents in the ER can impact her concerns for her family. She has seen it all. It is extremely difficult not to interpret what is happening at work with what might be happening to her own family. Separating family and work is definitely not as easy as in other occupations.
The third part could well be called survival of the staff from the patients in the ER. It is, for the most part, lighter and a definite theme of how to survive the abuse of the patients. Told with tongue firmly planted in cheek, it is a day-to-day list of patience above and beyond when it comes to receiving patients who are not really sick or are just simply demanding. The people who are "too sick" to tend to themselves but can manage well enough to treat the caregivers like servants. And then there are the "regulars", people trying to get drugs by acting out pain and telling the doctors what they need. Here, too, "gallows humor" reigns from necessity.
The fourth section covers in part living with grief, accepting it, healing, and remembering the positive. I found a personal connection in both getting through grief and, further in this section, the result of delayed grief. Apparently I did the right thing in dealing with the loss of my grandmother by writing a story of her childhood, as the only grandchild who had heard all the stories. With delayed grief, it is an entirely different feeling and can hit at any time, even decades later. It lays buried and unnoticed until some trigger leaves a person reeling and not understanding why, it is buried so deeply. The content of this section of the book was very helpful to me personally, and I highly recommend the book on the merits of this segment especially. Referring to grief, Sherry is not only talking about the need for families of patients, but also for those attending to the patients, and their own families too.
A separate story on Hurricane Katrina brings Crisis Intervention to the forefront and demonstrates just how important this is. So little could be done by the rescue teams and yet they felt the need to have done more. This puts a great burden on these people and consequently eventually on their families. This distinct section is a very important read, not only for that aspect but it does explain a lot of errors and delays that occurred at the time. This portion and the following deal mainly with the very real problems facing even seasoned ER personnel and the need for crisis intervention.
All told, this book will bring a greater understanding of just how much these very special people are capable of, how caring they are, and why some burn out so soon. I definitely recommend this book on many levels. Who has not had some connection to this field at some point in their lives. This is how it is, written faithfully and dealing more with outcomes and feelings than a gory tale.
The book is very well written with a nice balance to hold the lay person's attention. There is also a glossary at the end of the book, although most terms are either recognizable or explained along the way, also. 5 stars