Getting Older

In keeping with the theme of my last two posts, this one reflects my ambivalence about aging.

Nursing Stories

I promptly lost my first Medicare card. When I opened the envelope and saw the red, white and blue border, I was reminded of the elderly I cared for over twenty years ago when I was a gerontological nurse practitioner. I ran a not-for-profit clinic in a converted one-bedroom apartment on the tenth floor of a senior citizen highrise in Chicago. How many times had I asked to see someone’s Medicare card? Most of my patients were poor, illiterate and had multiple health problems. So when I first looked at my card, I could only remember loneliness, despair and disability. This couldn’t be happening to me. And, poof, the card was gone.

Slowly other patients strolled into my memory. Mildred, blind and lived alone, always asked me to put her kitchen cabinets back in order after her daughter visited. Margie, ninety-something with an Irish brogue, came down to the clinic…

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The Dreaded Question

I have become much better when I meet someone new at acknowledging that I am a writer and have published a book. After I give them the elevator speech describing the book, they usually ask, “How long did it take you to write?”

I have spent more time answering this question than telling them what the book is about. I feel the need to justify why it took seven years to finish.

A new acquaintance asked just yesterday, “So, how long did it take for you to write the book?” As usual, I spent many minutes with my in-depth explanation. I droned on as if giving a lecture that I had given many times before and had to reluctantly deliver it again. Why?

Then that afternoon, after I read Marlene Adelstein, The Dreaded Question, I knew why. My book writing journey doesn’t follow Marlene’s exactly but her story does help to clarify that my first book, Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic, has been growing inside of me for years. Years! My previous writing was mostly in preparation for this book. Like Marlene, I recognize that I have had subconscious motivations for finishing this book all along. I am still processing the reasons, which I will share in another post.

I hope you enjoy Marlene’s fine story and her lovely writing as much as I did.

Bloom

by Marlene Adelstein 

Now that my debut novel, Sophie Last Seen, has just been published and I’ve started doing readings and interviews to promote it, I’m hoping my least favorite question won’t pop up. But inevitably, it does. How long did it take you to write? It’s often the first question out of people’s mouths. Why the length of time it takes to complete a book is of such interest, I’m not sure. Maybe people secretly want to hear it took a long time so they can feel better about their own slow writing. Or perhaps they want to hear it didn’t take very long at all, and they’ll think, That sounds easy, I can do that!

The fact is, when I started writing this book the World Trade Center had just toppled. And it was only a little more than a year ago that I got a…

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COLD CLINICAL FACTS

This seems like a good time to revisit an earlier post as I start on my second book, which will be about various home visits I have made over the years. It originally appeared on April 7, 2013.

Recording sad, depressing, and unpleasant experiences is challenging. They are often the stories we nurses would rather block from memory. I empathize with nurses who choose not to write while, at the same time, I encourage them to do so. Motivation varies from writer to writer, and composing my stories grants me an absolution of sorts. Revealing my reactions to clinical situations will be challenging. But then who said writing is easy?

Nursing Stories

revising & revising

Four women in my Wednesday evening non-fiction workshop graciously agreed to be my beta-readers and look over my manuscript during a two week break, following suggestions outlined by our leader, Carol Henderson. What Carol stressed, among other things, was not to get bogged down with spelling and formatting but look for flow, bumps and where you fall asleep. How does the narrator come across? Make a note where things are not clear.

The four women are talented writers. Their stories deep, interesting and well told. I consider myself lucky to have willing and skilled readers. Their feedback, positive and negative, can only improve my book. They have heard my stories, isolated, standing alone, without any connection to what had happened before or followed next. Now for the first time they would have the whole picture of my creation.

Stein On Writing Stein On Writing

The “corrected” manuscripts (Sol Stein, Stein on Writing,

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Spotlight: Marianna Crane

There would be no Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic if it were not for my job as coordinator of the Senior Clinic at EFHC some 30 years. On Wednesday February 20th, I am speaking to the nurses at Erie Family Health Centers.

I thought it fitting to reblog the Spotlight Marianna Crane that first appeared in the EFHC Donor Newsletter on September 3, 2017.

More details about this visit to the windy (and snowy) city in my next post.

Nursing Stories

This appeared in the September 2017 Erie Family Health Center Donor Newsletter

Anniversary Spotlight: Marianna Crane

Over thirty years ago Dr. Sally Lundeen, a nurse and Erie Family Health Center’s first Executive Director, spearheaded a project that would provide care for the underserved elderly right where they lived. The Senior Clinic* opened on the 10th floor of an apartment building on 838 N. Noble, then managed by the Chicago Housing Authority specifically for low-income elderly residents. Marianna Crane was one of the first nurses to join Dr. Lundeen in this endeavor. She had recently left the VA Hospital, disappointed that, due to a lack of funding, she wasn’t able to provide the specialty care she knew that the elderly there needed.

Crane was at the forefront of a shift in health care, one of the first gerontological nurse practitioners at a time when geriatrics was barely beginning to be considered…

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Josephine Ensign (1960 – )

I am happy to see Josephine Ensign acknowledged by Nursemanifest. Ensign is an NP and her book, “Catching Homelessness,” tells not only about those without social supports but the role of the NP in helping those who fall through the cracks. The barriers we NPs face by the medical establishment is clearly documented in the story of her experience. She has also been helpful to me in developing my own nurse practitioner memoir.
Her book has been awarded the AJN 2017 Best Book of the Year in the Creative Works category. Congratulations, Josephine.

NurseManifest

Inspiration for Activism!

  •  Worked for three decades as a family nurse practitioner providing primary health care to homeless adolescents and adults in large urban areas on both coasts of the U.S.
  • Focuses her work on increasing understanding of the lives of marginalized populations, and developing ways to increase their access to effective health care programs.
  • Uses personal stories to highlight important public policy issues within an emancipatory framework.
  • Her essays have appeared in The Sun, The Oberlin Alumni Magazine, Pulse, Silk Road, The Intima, The Examined Life Journal, Johns Hopkins Public Health Magazine, and the nonfiction anthology “I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse“, edited by Lee Gutkind.  
  • Her first book “Catching Homelessness: A Nurses Story of Falling thought the Safety Net,” provides a piercing look at the homelessness industry, nursing, and our country’s health care safety…

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