E.R. Nurses: True Stories from America’s Greatest Unsung Heroes

E.R. Nurses: True Stories from America’s Greatest Unsung Heroes by James Pattersong and Matt Eversmann, Little, Brown & Company, 2021l

I bought E.R. Nurses: True Stories from America’s Greatest Unsung Heroes at my local independent bookstore. The book isn’t an easy read. I wanted to skip over the tales that involved babies and children. But I didn’t. I honor each author’s experience because he/she is willing to share these stories with me and expose their vulnerabilities. 

Real nurses write real stories about what they do on “routine” days. The stories are mostly short, from two to seven pages. Most of them twist my gut and bring me close to tears. The stories are a testimony to what nurses must overcome to help their patients. 

E.R Nurses. is a bare bones book. No preface, foreword, introduction or prologue. Just chapter after chapter of unforgettable nursing stories written by unforgettable nurses. 

That’s all that is needed. 

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James Patterson has been criticized for co-authoring many of his books and for being more of a brand that focuses on making money than an artist who focuses on his craft.

He has had more than 114 New York Times bestselling novels and holds The New York Times record for most #1 New York Times bestsellers by a single author, a total of 67, which is also a Guinness World Record. 

His books have sold approximately 305 million copies worldwide. (Wikipedia)

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I’m happy that James Patterson has authored E.R. Nurses. His reputation as a best-selling author all but guarantees that a wide audience will learn what nurses really do. 

Book review: Rewarding, heartbreaking stories of E.R. nurses

Mims Cushing

For the Jacksonville Florida Times-Union USA TODAY NETWORK

October 24, 2021

We clapped for them, we cheered for them, we banged pots and pans for them, we cried happy tears and sad. And now we can read about them. They were the first responders during COVID-19. But much of this book does not deal with the nurses who dealt with that. It’s about the nurses who go about their job as emergency nurses. They too deserve clapping. And the authors have dealt with, perhaps 100, day shift, night shift and flight nurses.

James Patterson and Matt Eversmann have come up with a book about the lives of hard-working men and women who work in emergency rooms in the United States. The authors have captured the essence and drama of their stories.

The nurses’ stories are sometimes heartbreaking and sometimes frightening, but all offer a close-up view as to what it takes to be a nurse. The night shifts are particularly difficult, even hard to read about.

Of course the outcomes are often painful, especially when children have to see their father or mother slowly ebb away. The nurses take solace in the fact that sometimes something wonderful happens as when a father takes off his rosary and places it around his son’s neck before being wheeled off to surgery. A nurse suggested that he do that. A few days later, the father dies, but his son will always remember that gesture.

It’s particularly frustrating when a patient is being particularly difficult when a nurse has just seen something tragic. A 7-year-old had fallen out of treehouse and was in cardiac arrest and the nurses worked on him for 54 minutes — as someone else made a petty request. During one night shift, a nurse is nearly strangled, with a choke hold by a severely mentally ill man.

No two days are the same. “Sometimes [one of the teaching nurses tells new nurses], “you get to be a part of a miracle. Other times no matter how well you do your job, it just doesn’t work out. People are going to live, and people are going to die. You have no control. You just do your job.”

One of the nurses wishes that people impatiently waiting for help in an ER would realize that, if they are not being treated, it means someone else is in worse condition than they are: “If we don’t get to you right away, it means you’re stable. If you’re waiting, that’s a good thing. It’s when we all rush in and jump on you that you should worry.”

Give this book to someone who is thinking of being a nurse or is one already. Read it yourself and bang pots and pans all over again, in your heart.

Mims Cushing lives in Ponte Vedra Beach and has written three books. 

Alphabet Challenge: S

I’ve signed onto The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2021.

The challenge is to blog the whole alphabet in April and write at least 100 words on a topic that corresponds to the letter of the day. 

Every day, excluding Sundays, I’m blogging about Places I Have Been. The last post will be on Friday, April 30 when I finally focus on the letter Z. 

S: San Francisco

Emergency runaway ramp

We left the Grand Canyon in early afternoon. As we began our descent into Death Valley, the sun slid behind the hills. The car started to pick up speed. Penny screamed, “the brakes aren’t working.”  She gripped the wheel, giving all of her attention to keeping the car on the road. On one side of us loomed the granite facade of the mountain. On the other a drop-off to the valley below. As the car continued to accelerate, Carol Ann and I grasped hands and prayed. Miraculously, Penny jerked the car off to the right onto an emergency runaway ramp. We slowed down. When the car stopped, we sat silently as we realized we hadn’t died. 

Penny, Carol Ann and I had graduated from St. Peter’s School of Nursing a year ago. We promised that we would work as hospital nurses for a year and then move to San Francisco to live. We left New Jersey in Carol Ann’s second-hand car in September 1963. We had driven cross country along Route 66 from New Jersey. On the way, Carol Ann’s old jalopy had to be serviced many times: two flat tires, overheated engine and now, after our close call, a garage in Lone Pine, California, where the car was towed, would fix the brakes.

We arrived in San Francisco, our final destination, on a sunny autumn day. Our bags were in the trunk. We were headed to the YMCA in the Tenderloin district where we had rented the “penthouse.” 

On the first hill in San Francisco, the car stalled. Penny was behind the wheel. She couldn’t seem to put the stick shift into gear. We sat looking down the steep decline in front of us. I sat in the middle of the front seat and Carol Ann sat next to the door, just as we had as we careened down the mountain days before. My hands started to sweat. Carol Ann must have felt as I did because she opened the door and jumped out of the car. I followed. Standing beside the car, we both watched helplessly as Penny sat frozen. The cars behind her started to honk. I knew I couldn’t climb back into the car to help. Neither could Carol Ann.

Poor Penny was behind the wheel again. Before we could figure out what to do, a guy standing on the sidewalk sized up the situation. He jogged over and opened the driver’s door. Wordless, he grabbed the wheel. When he put his foot on the brake, Penny slid out of the car. He slipped into first gear and drove the car down the steep street, waiting for us to join him at the bottom. 

The next day Carol Ann sold the car.

Penny began dating the fellow who came to our rescue.

I decided I didn’t want to live in San Francisco and, after a few months, went home—by plane. 

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