Just last week I came across a folder in an old box on the bottom of a closet. There I found accordion-pleated sheets of paper where I had written about the Donovan family in single space dot-matrix some twenty years ago. Bill Donovan had lung cancer with metastasis to his bones and brain. He died on a cold December day in Chicago.
I still have my Day Timer—who is old enough to remember those? I kept statistics on my patients: address, phone number, date of birth, diagnoses, if and when they received a flu shot and the date they either were discharged from home care or died. I wrote sporadically about my more difficult or worrisome patients in journals, which I kept all these years. I knew someday I would write my nursing stories.
But I never did forget Bill. I just didn’t remember enough detail about him and his family to add him to the book I’m working on. But now I’ll flesh him out along with his three daughters, a live-in girl friend and a hired caregiver, Stanley, who emigrated from Poland where he claimed to be a medical student and who withheld Bill’s medication on the grounds he, Bill, could die from the morphine.
Now you couldn’t make this stuff up.
I’m writing a book. I’ve been writing this book for the past five years. Longer if you count the time I worked with a friend to co-author a book of nursing tales until I knew I had to take this journey alone. Add the amount of time it took for the book to take form and we’re talking ten years. There have been many renditions. It started out as a chronological account of my nursing career. Then it morphed into a story about a particular job I had. I added more about my immediate family. My mother ambled into the book complicating my theme and opening old wounds. I changed the book from past tense to present tense and back to past tense again. I’ve had many more working titles than I can remember. Over the years I paid large amounts of money on writing classes and workshops and to consultants to look over my work only to disregard what they recommended. The book remains incomplete.
I don’t believe any of my efforts were worthless. In fact with each rendition of my book, I grew into a better writer. But now enough is enough. I am ready to declare what this book is really about and proceed to complete the manuscript. That’s the scary part. Maybe it’s the real reason it’s taken so long to be done.
I was listening to my long time friend, fellow writer and nurse, Lois Roelofs being interviewed on the Laura Dion Jones Show from Illinois on WRMN 1410, last week. With my I-Pad up to my ear, I settled in a comfy chair in the living room of my daughter’s home in Raleigh. For the next half hour, my four-year-old grandson repeatedly circled my chair, lunged at the dog, and jumped on his eight-year-old brother who was playing Mario Kart and protested loudly. Besides ignoring my grandsons, I ignored the ringing phone and hoped no one would press the doorbell.
Lois wrote a book: Caring Lessons: A Nursing Professor’s Journey of Faith and Self. Lois not only promoted her book but also discussed the special characteristics of the nursing profession. She told Laura’s audience that nurses are not just caring but use manual dexterity along with cognitive and social skills in their interactions with patients. “It’s an intellectually vigorous profession.” And the ultimate multitasking profession, I might add. Anyone who has been hospitalized will appreciate the benefits of a being cared for by a competent and compassionate nurse.
Lois and I met years ago in a baccalaureate-nursing program. We share the same irreverent sense of humor and the love of nursing. And the belief nurses have an important message to share with the public—how and why we make a difference. Lois does a good job during the interview to make this point.
Listen for yourself. Brew a cup of tea. Click and fast forward into the broadcast to 3:05 minutes and hear Lois promote her book and the nursing profession.