May is the month where we celebrate nurses and others who are also our healthcare providers. In addition, it is the time when we remember those who have served this country and those whose lives were lost.
As a nurse myself, I’ll speak to this first off. Recently I came across a quote by a nurse describing what she had imagined nursing to be, and then what it turned out to be for her. “What I thought nursing involved when I started: chemistry, biology, physics, pharmacology and anatomy. And what I now know to be the truth of nursing: philosophy, psychology, art, ethics and politics.” (Christie Watson—see below—p.11) While the writer practiced for twenty years in a variety of settings in England, I do think her perspective could be shared by nurses worldwide. Here are two additional books that may prove of interest:
· Stenrose, Melody M.: Inside the ICU: A Nursing Perspective (2009). A view of what really goes on behind closed doors in the Intensive Care Unit. This author and I published our first books at the same time and it was nice to have shared this experience!
· Robbins, Alexandra: The Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama, and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital (2015). A recounting of four very different nurses in four very different hospitals, providing great insight into what the life of a nurse is like today.
· Watson, Christie: The Language of Kindness: A Nurse’s Story (2018). This looks at the truly positive side of nursing, despite the tragedies and challenges.
As to remembering those we lost in our country’s wars, it seems like we’ve had quite a few wars since the last of the “big” wars. I came of age during Vietnam, but I remember very little discussion at home or in the news aside from daily statistics. I do remember having some school project and asking my father about the “domino theory”, which said, in effect, if one country fell to Communism, then a series of countries would subsequently fall. It was a theory which was used to legitimize our war in Vietnam. I didn’t understand why we were there and I didn’t know if I should be for or against. I never participated in any demonstrations because of this, but I do remember my mother wanting to do this. I also never knew anyone who was lost in the war. In later years, I’ve come to feel a sense of guilt for that lack of understanding. At one point, I wanted to go to Washington and see the wall—The Vietnam Memorial. I finally decided that money spent on a trip could best be donated to our vets today. There are many worthwhile organizations supporting our vets, those currently serving, and the families of both.
Of the many resources about our role in Vietnam, I’d have to say Ken Burns'
The Vietnam War, was certainly comprehensive and worth viewing. As I tend to favor fiction, it was happenstance that I came across one recommended by another author, and one which I did previously recommend: Robert Dugoni’s The World Played Chess (2021). It’s the moving story of a father and his son, and two Vietnam vets with whom the son works one summer. It was difficult to put this book down.
Finally, I’ll end with a personal note. I was recently stopped for speeding in a school zone; I thought I had passed the end of the zone. Fortunately the cop who stopped me, just gave me a warning, and then he said: “Thank you for your service!” I was totally taken aback. That day I was on my way to working/volunteering at a neighborhood clinic where we are required to wear white; that was my uniform. His comment has become something of a catch phrase, but no one had ever said it to me! So, think about that when you meet a health care provider or our current first responders—firemen, police, ambulance, and others. Thank them.
It makes one feel pretty good.