THE WEIRDEST HOME VISIT

This originally appeared on 08/12/2012. The Weirdest Home Visit is one of many stories that didn’t make it into the first book. I am considering it for inclusion in my second book.

Nursing Stories

When I worked in the home care program at a VA hospital in Illinois, medical students sometimes came along with us nurse practitioners while we made our visits. I enjoyed showing them the reality of delivering care in the patient’s home—where we were guests—the subtle line between suggestion and decree, education and instruction, doing for the patient and letting the patient do for himself.

One afternoon, when I had a female medical student riding with me, I had trouble finding the house. In the day of no cell phones or GPS’s, I stopped at a gas station to call the patient’s wife. Was I being paranoid when she sounded like she was being deliberately unclear?

We finally drove down the well-manicured block in a rather upscale neighborhood. One house in the middle of the block was “protected” by a row of stately cypresses or if cypresses trees don’t grow in…

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Wishes, Dreams and Hopes for My Book: Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic

ik-wens...

 

I imagine Oprah Winfrey being told by one of her many assistants about a book she should read that is set in Chicago, that focuses on a female protagonist and deals with the disenfranchised on the West Side. Oprah, immediately after reading my book, writes a glowing review in O, the Oprah magazine. Great Summer Read!

My other fantasy is that an older woman who lives in Los Angeles, reads my book, which has been recommended to her by her nurse daughter or nurse son. She loves it so much that she passes it on to her best friend. Her best friend also loves it, and just so happens to be married to a well-connected TV producer, and soon my book is slated to premier as a new Netflix series.

And then reality sets in as I read the following quote.

“I did not get there by wishing for it, or dreaming about it, or hoping for it. I got there by working for it.” –Estée Lauder

Bummer.

 

 

How to Handle This Age Issue

The woman who was interviewing me asked my age. She was apologetic. “My boss wants me to get ages.”

I was ready for her.

“I am 76,” I said. “Not a problem to ask. I think it’s good that folks realize that older people can still be productive.”

“That’s one way to handle it,” she said, flatly.

Handle what, I wondered? But I didn’t ask just in case she would think I was being snarky and end our conversation. She was a columnist from a newspaper published in my old home town, calling to conduct an interview about me and my first book, a memoir.

Quite a few years ago, when I was dipping my toe into the writing life, I heard a local cookbook author being interviewed on a radio program. When the interviewer asked the author her age, she said, “I never tell my age. There are too many ageist readers out there.” I was floored. How would ageist beliefs disappear if those who are successful and of a certain age don’t sing their own praises? I wanted to reach into the radio and shake this woman. Since then I had been on a mission to tell my age. That was the way I was handling the age issue.

Once I stopped into a Weight Watcher’s storefront to get help in dropping the ten pounds that I have habitually lost and gained over the years. The helpful clerk was promoting the additional support one could find on the internet. “There is a Weight Watchers’ Blog,” she said, eyeing me before she continued. “Do you know what a Blog is?”

I immediately assumed she thought that I was too old to know what a Blog was. Since I had just recently set up my own Blog following advice on how to promote my future book, I huffed and puffed and said rather haughtily, that I have my own Blog, thank you, then turned and marched out the door. Only later did I recognize that was the wrong way to educate the clerk. Now she knew I was not only older but super sensitive. I should have just laughed and told her I had a Blog as if it were no big deal. Then she would be impressed by my age and my poise.

Since it is obvious that I am older, my new tack is to just be me and disregard any real or imagined mannerisms of others that are demeaning. While I don’t shy away from confrontation, and in some instances enjoy the battle, I would have to make an extra attempt to be cordial. Why call attention to my age? Let my actions and accomplishments speak for themselves. Yet another way to handle the age issue.

Now you can see that I am conflicted. Tell my age or not call attention to my age?

A week ago, a woman contacted me via email. She had seen my memoir on the publisher’s website. Could she talk with me about the indie publisher I had chosen? She finished her first memoir and now was exploring options. The memoir was about her grandmother who had sold alcohol during prohibition to support her family. The woman told me that she had written a few professional books and self-published a fiction story. We spent almost an hour discussing the pros and cons of self-publishing versus using my indie publisher.

During our conversation, we never mentioned age. Afterwards, looking over her website, I discovered that she was 82. I was impressed with her vitality, and enthusiasm to get her memoir published and promoted. Oh, to be so cavalier about one’s age! I now know how I will  handle this age issue.

Just ignore it.

 

decisionsright

Learning to Heal

I’ve long been a proponent of nurses writing their stories to educate the general public about what we really do. Here’s a book: Learning to Heal: Reflections on Nursing School in Poetry and Prosethat does that and more.

The essays, from seasoned nurses as well as recent grads and “respected elders,” are set in the United States and abroad and show the history, rigors, challenges, humor, and sadness that alternate during the nursing school experience. Not every author in this collection makes it to graduation.

The prerequisite of nursing—compassion, empathy, and psychological support—threads through the stories. The reader will learn the depth of the nurse-patient/family connection. This connection becomes ingrained in the nurses’ psyche as evidenced by Courtney Davis’ Wednesday’s Child. Her story mirrors my Baby in the Closet. She, too, wrote about a newborn with a deformity who was left to die in a linen closet. Courtney, like me, carried the fate of the baby along with unanswered questions for almost 50 years!

Never a specialty I wanted to practice, psychiatric nursing demands a special temperament.  Poetry especially captures the depths of human understanding needed to make a difference.

. . . Come to my group, my plea, as I knelt offering

filtered cigarettes as free admission tickets.

In an empty silence, we sat on single beds, arranged

in a square, in a room as cavernous as an airplane hangar.

What was my hurry? Most had lived there twenty years.

Hardly a word dropped into the atmosphere.

—Ward 24, Nancy Kerrigan

I associated with Geraldine Gorman’s Learning the Wisdom of Tea, who takes us though her education from a diploma nurse to a PhD. I, too, wondered where were the “(f)irst person accounts of interactions of patients and family . . .”  Where were the nursing stories? And I, too, questioned the authoritative methods of instructors in nursing academia. And I, too, felt fortunate to find a career path that allowed me to “practice outside the hospital.” My “wisdom of tea” began at the kitchen tables of my patients when I visited their homes as a guest, learning that I needed to obtain their cooperation in order to institute a treatment plan.

The stories and poems in this anthology are varied, educational, entertaining, and poignant. Whether the reader is a nurse or not, all will learn that nursing has come a long way as Learning to Heal stories excellently show.

Nursing Truths for a New Era: Author Interview with Marianna Crane

A serendipitous meeting with Michele Berger reminded me of the long road I traveled conceptualizing, creating, and finally completing my book. Many folks that I met along the way inspired and supported my efforts. Most I never had the chance to thank. Fortunately, now I can tell Michele that her creativity workshop and follow-up coaching encouraged me to stay on track.

Thank you, Michele.

Below is Michele Berger’s recent post spotlighting me and my book.

The Practice of Creativity

Happy new year, everyone! It feels especially poignant to begin the first post of the year with a special Author Q&A. More than a decade ago, before I formally began my coaching practice, I taught creativity workshops at UNC-Chapel Hill’s The Friday Center. They had a thriving adult enrichment program. My classes were popular and I met and coached people from all backgrounds. It is always a delight to run into people many years later and hear about their creative adventures.

Two months ago at the North Carolina Writers’ Conference, out the corner of my I saw a distinguished-looking woman. Her face looked familiar, but I only caught a glimpse before moving on to my next panel. To my great delight and surprise, this same woman came up to me at the reception. We immediately recognized each other. She had taken one of my classes at the Friday Center and…

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What Was My Memoir Really About?

This guest post was written for She Writes Blog on November 29, 2018.

My book, Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers, took me about seven years to complete. I couldn’t seem to rush the process. A mentor told me “the book will take as long as it needs to take to be done.” And only after I finished the book did I understand what my story was really about.

My nursing career covered forty years. As soon as I retired I began to record those years starting with nursing school. When I reached the early 80s, a tug in my gut told me that I couldn’t go any further. During that time I was the coordinator of a not-for-profit clinic in Chicago targeting the underserved elderly. Throughout the years, I always remembered the clinic as being totally different from any other job I ever had. Located on the tenth-floor of an apartment building for low-income seniors, the open door policy allowed anyone to walk in—with a heart attack or carrying a loaf of zucchini bread.

As a new nurse practitioner (I had been a registered nurse for twenty years before I went back to school to become an NP), I narrowly viewed my role as a health care provider. I would see patients in the clinic for illnesses or health maintenance. That the elderly had multitudinous social and economic problems initially eluded me. Or was it that my lack of education in geriatrics, a new specialty at the time, that contributed to my misconceptions?

Many of my patients’ stories were captured in a journal that I kept while I struggled with the dilemmas that challenged me—patients choosing between food and medicine, or were victims of family abuse, or targeted by scam artists from the community. I often vacillated whether I had any right to step in and take over a patient’s finances or change the locks on the doors. With no road map, I fumbled along, sometimes butting heads with my staff in deciding how to intervene. 

I learned that what I wrote initially in the book was not a clear map of what I wanted to convey. I just wanted to tell this story. But what story? My memory cast my co-workers in roles that inhibited my progress. With each rewrite, I softened my harsh critique of others and uncovered some detrimental actions that I had initiated. My insight became sharper when I let the story percolate in my head rather than rushing to rewrite. Reflection and patience, albeit over seven years, finally enabled me to be truthful to what happened in the tenth-floor clinic.

In retrospect, I see that having a preconceived notion of what I wanted to write had caused me to miss what was behind the real story. My belief about the stories from the tenth-floor clinic stemmed from what I remembered—my truth at that moment. The passage of time has a way of rearranging recollections. It was only after examining my place in my memoir that I uncovered what the story was really about, even if I had already lived it.

The book took as long as it needed to take to be done.

Announcing Publication Day: Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic

 Immediate Release 

RETIRED RALEIGH GERONTOLOGICAL NURSE PRACTITIONER’S IMPORTANT MEMOIR OFFERS LESSONS FOR TODAY 

Retired nurse practitioner and Raleigh resident Marianna Crane’s memoir, Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers, has earned kudos for its depiction of the early days of gerontological nursing. Windy City Reviews called the book “important” and Kirkus Reviews praised it for being “thoughtful and compelling.” Released by She Writes Press this month, the memoir has been heralded for the valuable insight it brings to understanding the complex web of care required still today for this vulnerable population. 

Crane celebrates publication with events at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill on November 11th at 2 pm, at Two Sisters Bookery in Wilmington on November 17th at 7 pm, and at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh on December 5th at 7 pm. 

Crane loved her job working in one of the country’s first programs in gerontology. She felt a connection to her patients and valued her role in their care. But when she herself was not valued for her work, Crane decided to make a change and accepted a position coordinating a clinic that cared for poor, underserved elderly and which was located on the tenth floor of a Chicago Housing high-rise. 

Crane knew how to be a nurse, but what she didn’t know, and what her memoir so movingly recounts, is how much beyond her role as a nurse practitioner was required to assist older patients. She found herself planning a funeral, exposing relatives preying on the vulnerable, and hauling a mattress up the elevator. Also, she learned to offer medical care in people’s apartments even when people would not seek it —because care was needed. Most importantly, she learned how significant teamwork is in working with this population. 

In Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers, Crane offers readers a compassionate and insightful look into the world of nursing but even more so, she offers readers stories about endearing people, stories that remind us all what it means to human. 

Long an advocate for the importance for recognizing the invaluable work nurses perform, Crane uses her memoir to give readers a greater understanding of what nurses/nurse practitioners do each day, a perspective that she hopes will increase understanding of the nursing profession. 

MARIANNA CRANE became one of the first gerontological nurse practitioners in the early 1980s. A nurse for more than forty years, she has worked in hospitals, clinics, home care, and hospice settings. She writes to educate the public about what nurses really do. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Eno River Literary Journal, Examined Life Journal, Hospital Drive, Stories That Need to be Told: A Tulip Tree Anthology, and Pulse: Voices from the Heart of Medicine. She earned her Diploma in Nursing from Saint Peter’s School of Nursing; her Bachelor of Health Sciences at Governors State University; and her Master of Science in Public Health Nursing at University of Illinois at Chicago. Crane lives with her husband in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is a member of the North Carolina Writers Network. Find her online at https://nursingstories.org/. 

She Writes Press is part of SparkPoint Studio, LLC.    

PRAISE for 

Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic: 

“…an important memoir detailing the complex needs of an aging population…” 

—Windy City Reviews 

In this thoughtful and compelling memoir, Crane’s keen eye for detail brings her stories, by turns heartbreaking and humorous, to life on the page. . . . Crane’s passion for helping others is obvious even as she struggles to figure out the best way to do that. An honest, compassionate look at what it takes to care for some of America’s most vulnerable citizens.”—Kirkus Reviews 

“Marianna Crane writes with compassion and insight about what it’s like to serve on the front lines of the medical profession—treating the most vulnerable among us. Her vivid account is moving and enlightening, a valuable contribution to the literature of social justice.”—Philip Gerard, Professor, Department of Creative Writing, University of North Carolina, and author of The Art of Creative Research 

“The book is a case study on how nursing is so much more than caring for a patient’s medical needs. Nurses care for the whole patient including all of their medical, physical, mental, emotional and social needs. Being a nurse myself, I really enjoyed reading this book and getting to know glimpses of the patients she saw in the clinic. This was a quick and easy read and really reminded me that we have such an impact on our patients’ lives long after we stop caring for them. I would recommend this book to any nurse or human-being who enjoys reading about human relationships and the bonds we form with one another.”—Nerdy Book Nurse 

Crane truly is an inspiration . . . Readers will see her compassion, heartache and ability to admit her mistakes in her emotional writing . . . I highly recommend Stories from the Tenth Floor Clinic by Marianna Crane to all families, caretakers and those who work with the elderly.”—Reader Views 

“Nurse practitioners are well known for their willingness to be primary care providers for the ‘underserved’ . . . Society prefers that such patients remain invisible, because acknowledging their existence is too unsettling. It is my fervent hope that Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic will find a wide audience of readers who are willing to meet and care about the people nurse practitioners allow into their lives every day.”—Marie Lindsey, PhD, FNP, health care consultant and founding member and first president of the Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nurse 

“ . . . poignant and compelling . . . With empathy, compassion and wit Crane makes an important contribution to the literature of a frail population. We, who research these folks, are indebted to the author for her insights and unvarnished truth.” —Peter J. Stein, Ph.D. former Associate Director, Aging Workforce Initiatives, University of North Carolina Institute on Aging 

RE: Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers 

By Marianna Crane 

        

Web
 

She Writes Press

 

Publication Date: November 6, 2018; Memoir: ISBN 978-1-63152-445-5; 5.5 x 8.5; Trade paperback; $16.95 U.S.; 212 pages 

E-book ISBN 978-1-63152-446-2, $9.95 

Part of the proceeds of the sales of this book will go to Erie Family Health Centers 

For more information, please contact: 

Caitlin Hamilton Summie, President 

Caitlin Hamilton Marketing & Publicity, LLC 

Phone/Fax: 865-675-3776 

caitlin@caitlinhamiltonmarketing.com        

                            

COUNTDOWN TO PUBLICATION DATE: THREE WEEKS

This past week I promoted my book.

Monday, after a class I attended on public speaking, I collared a woman who had also attended the lecture as she exited the ladies room. “How will you use the information?” I asked. She told me she had planned to start a class for widows on ways to rebuild their lives. Then in the course of our conversation, she told me she belonged to one of the oldest book clubs—meeting over 100 years. Maybe, I said, you would want to discuss my book and I handed her one of my business cards.

Tuesday, I spent the day at a retreat for my hospital volunteer group. The facilitator was a nurse whose office was located in Chicago. Didn’t I write my book about a clinic I ran in Chicago? And am I not scheduled to give a talk at that clinic early next year? And don’t I need to schedule some more speaking engagements to make that trip worthwhile? So I approached her during a break and asked if she would she be amenable to helping me figure out what venues in Chicago that might be possible?

Wednesday, I spoke with a nurse who organizes the Jersey City Medical Center Alumni Association. Jersey City is my hometown and my first job after graduation was at the JCMC. I accepted an invitation to speak at their 2019 spring luncheon.

Thursday, I happened to be a hospital gift shop. I approached the woman who buys the merchandise and offered my book. I’m still working on that connection.

Friday, I attended the NC State Fair with my longtime friend, Carol.  We met in the second grade at Saint Aedans School in Jersey City, and reconnected when she moved to North Carolina 15 years ago. Carol is in my book. The day before, postcard-size cards advertising my book had arrived in the mail, so I gave her a handful to distribute to her Bunko friends and dropped off the rest at strategic places at the Fair.

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Saturday, again laden with my postcards, I handed some of them over to a friend at lunch. She, too, is a writer and supportive of my book selling efforts.

After lunch, I drove to my monthly writing workshop. I passed the cards out to the women who have heard many versions of my stories over the years.

It is not lost on me that I am fortunate to have a group of friends that encourage, support and believe in me and my story.

On Sunday, I rested.

Countdown to Publication Date: Four Weeks

PrintMy book: Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers is due to be published on November 6, Election Day. Now isn’t that a bummer? In spite of the competition for attention, I plan to get an announcement out a couple of days before via Blog, Facebook and Twitter. Maybe folks will enjoy a distraction.

This is my first book and my first stab at marketing and publicity. My husband tells me it will be easier with my second book.

Most days, I am frozen with indecision where to put my attention and energy. Not being a detail person only encourages procrastination. I have a large legal pad where I list all I need to do. This is not in any priority order so you can imagine that every time I review it, I break into a sweat. Just last week, I made a time line on an old 18 X 24 sketch pad, noting what I need to do when, and the dates of the events I am participating in. No, I am not using an Excel spread sheet or any other computerized aid. I like the feel of paper in my hands, adding new information with a pen, and the satisfaction of crossing out items.

Somehow, just writing stuff down eases my anxiety.

to do list
To Do List

I am learning things that have nothing to do with writing. Like designing a postcard size advertisement for my book. It took me almost two days to finalize this. I ordered 250 copies and I plan to drop them off at various locations, like the Community Center down the block, restaurants, stores, etc. I will slip one into our Christmas Letter that I snail-mail to friends and family who are not computer savvy. Quiet a few years ago, a young woman stood outside my neighborhood library and handed out flyers announcing her new book. I wonder how many of us who took her handout purchased her book? Not me. But that won’t stop me from distributing my own handouts.

Last Friday, I listened to a webinar sponsored by my publisher, She Writes Press, on tips for public speaking given by another SWP author, Betsy Graziani Fasbinder, from page to stage.

She cited two important skills.

  1. Eye contact: Speak to or connect to one person in the audience at a time for about 3-5 seconds, or 2 short sentences, and then randomly connect with another. Avoid darting or scanning the room.
  2. Silence: Using pause will allow your audience to absorb and remember ideas, feel suspense, and adjust for a new vocabulary. The speaker uses silence/pause to help herself think, breath, and relax.

Betsy had more helpful suggestions. Many I have heard before, but now reminded of these skills, I will take time to hone in on them prior to my taking my book on the road. And that, taking the book on the road, should be the fun part. Or so I’m told.

Four more weeks to go.

Kirkus Review

My book, Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic, received a positive Kirkus Review.

A good review a best seller does not make. I have been busy, along with my publicist, lining up ways to promote the book. I find none of this easy.

In retrospect, writing the book may have been the easy part.

In this thoughtful and compelling memoir, Crane’s keen eye for detail brings her stories, by turns heartbreaking and humorous, to life on the page.  . . . Crane’s passion for helping others is obvious even as she struggles to figure out the best way to do that. An honest, compassionate look at what it takes to care for some of America’s most vulnerable citizens.”—Kirkus Reviews

See review here.