Tending Lives

Echo Heron’s TENDING LIVES: NURSES ON THE MEDICAL FRONT is a collection of stories describing the remarkable true-life experiences and emotions of nurses, practicing today under difficult circumstances in a variety of clinical specialty areas and settings. Based on Heron’s actual observations or on her interviews with other nurses about their experiences, each narrative depicts a graphic individual situation, written in first person. With the exception of the chapter on the Oklahoma City bombing, which is based on interviews with five nurses, the chapters are named for the nurses who shared their stories and begin with a thumbnail sketch of the nurse or a quotation. (Names and places are fictionalized.) Among the contributors is a nurse who also practices law, one who drives a race car, one who is a pilot, and many who are professional musicians and hold masters’ degrees or doctorates. Their stories share what it is like to care for a dying child, a depressed stroke patient, or even a murderer.

These are good stories. They are the kind of stories nurses tell each other. They are dramatic, humorous, filled with surprise endings or ironic twists, and often poignant. As a whole, they display the compassion, dedication, and strength of the nurses who hold the health care delivery system together-nurses who are tough and caring people doing difficult jobs. The image of nursing presented here is free of sentimentality. Some situations described are grim, hospital conditions do not always inspire confidence. Heron writes in a very engaging and entertaining style, and this book is a great gift idea for anyone, especially for nurses or people who know nurses, including doctors.