“At my job, people die,” writes Theresa Brown, capturing both the burden and the singular importance of her profession. Critical Care chronicles Brown, a former English Professor at Tufts University, on her first year as an RN in medical oncology and the emotional ups and downs she encounters in caring for strangers. In contrast to other medical memoirs that highlight the work of doctors, this book focuses on the critical role played by nurses as health care providers.
Brown walks readers through the rigors of chemotherapy, reveals the odd things that can happen to people’s bodies in hospitals, and throws in some humor with her chapter titled, “Doctors Don’t Do Poop.” During her first year on the hospital floor, Brown is seriously injured but her recovery allows her to take a new perspective on the health care system, giving her a better understanding of the challenges faced by her patients.
Ultiimately, Critical Care conveys the message of learning to embrace life in times of health and sickness. “The antidote to death,” Brown says, “is life.” Brown writes powerfully and honestly about her experiences, shedding light on the issues of mortality and meaning in our lives.