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A Nurse's Story [Paperback]

Tilda Shalof
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 19.95
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Book Description

Feb. 22 2005
The team of nurses that Tilda Shalof found herself working with in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a big-city hospital was known as “Laura’s Line.” They were a bit wild: smart, funny, disrespectful of authority, but also caring and incredibly committed to their jobs. Laura set the tone with her quick remarks. Frances, from Newfoundland, was famous for her improvised recipes. Justine, the union rep, wore t-shirts emblazoned with defiant slogans, like “Nurses Care But It’s Not in the Budget.” Shalof was the one who had been to university. The others accused her of being “sooo sensitive.”

They depended upon one another. Working in the ICU was both emotionally grueling and physically exhausting. Many patients, quite simply, were dying, and the staff strove mightily to prolong their lives. With their skill, dedication, and the resources of modern science, they sometimes were almost too successful. Doctors and nurses alike wondered if what they did for terminally-ill patients was not, in some cases, too extreme. A number of patients were admitted when it was too late even for heroic measures. A boy struck down by a cerebral aneurysm in the middle of a little-league hockey game. A woman rescued – too late – from a burning house. It all took its toll on the staff.

And yet, on good days, they thrived on what they did. Shalof describes a colleague who is managing a “crashing” patient: “I looked at her. Nicky was flushed with excitement. She was doing five different things at the same time, planning ahead for another five. She was totally focused, in her element, in control, completely at home with the chaos. There was a huge smile on her face. Nurses like to fix things. If they can.”

Shalof, a veteran ICU nurse, reveals what it is really like to work behind the closed hospital curtains. The drama, the sardonic humour, the grinding workload, the cheerful camaraderie, the big issues and the small, all are brought vividly to life in this remarkable book.


From the Hardcover edition.

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A Nurse's Story + The Making of a Nurse + Lives in the Balance: Nurses' Stories from the ICU
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Review

“Tilda Shalof’s A Nurse’s Story is the first time the work of nurses has been documented in print in Canada in such an honest, no-holds-barred account. . . . Shalof has seen it all, and writes about it, too.”
The Calgary Herald

“But her book isn’t a doom-and-gloom account of overworked nurses. Interspersed with tales of tragedy are accounts of the funny, often bizarre events that transpire on an ICU.”
Canadian Press

“A compelling book laced with humour.”
Times & Transcript

“There are genuinely heart-rending, disturbing and thought-provoking stories to be found in the pages of A Nurse’s Story. If this book doesn’t give you pause, you’re made of stone.”
Edmonton Journal

“In a post-SARS world where nurses are finally being recognized for the heroes they always were, A Nurse’s Story is the best-seller no one can put down.”
–Montreal Gazette

“This is a difficult book. Its content is difficult. Its tone is difficult. But it is also difficult to put down, so compelling and beautifully written are these stores.… Shalof’s stories are naked and vulnerable. Nothing is held back in her portrayals of her most memorable experiences from the early ‘80s to the SARS crisis.… Shalof’s colleagues point out during one of their ongoing discussions about the value of their work, that eventually everyone needs a nurse. And for that reason alone, A Nurse’s Story would worth reading, in order to understand where it is most of us will end up sooner or later, what it is that might be visited upon us and just who it is that will be looking after us.… A Nurse’s Story helps us understand where it is most of us will end up sooner or later.”
Winnipeg Free Press

“Readers may approach this book with the hope of reading dramatic tales such as those seen on television shows such as “ER.” While such readers are not likely to be disappointed, they are likely to discover more than they had hoped.… By turns sad, funny and touching, the author has done an admirable job of providing an insightful look into the real world of an ICU.”
Brandon This Week

“A cracking good read.… Despite the overt moralizing, this is undoubtedly a strong memoir. I hope it’s not the only story Shalof has to tell.”
Quill & Quire


From the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

“Tilda Shalof’s A Nurse’s Story is the first time the work of nurses has been documented in print in Canada in such an honest, no-holds-barred account. . . . Shalof has seen it all, and writes about it, too.”
The Calgary Herald

“But her book isn’t a doom-and-gloom account of overworked nurses. Interspersed with tales of tragedy are accounts of the funny, often bizarre events that transpire on an ICU.”
Canadian Press

“A compelling book laced with humour.”
Times & Transcript

“There are genuinely heart-rending, disturbing and thought-provoking stories to be found in the pages of A Nurse’s Story. If this book doesn’t give you pause, you’re made of stone.”
Edmonton Journal

“In a post-SARS world where nurses are finally being recognized for the heroes they always were, A Nurse’s Story is the best-seller no one can put down.”
–Montreal Gazette

“This is a difficult book. Its content is difficult. Its tone is difficult. But it is also difficult to put down, so compelling and beautifully written are these stores.… Shalof’s stories are naked and vulnerable. Nothing is held back in her portrayals of her most memorable experiences from the early ‘80s to the SARS crisis.… Shalof’s colleagues point out during one of their ongoing discussions about the value of their work, that eventually everyone needs a nurse. And for that reason alone, A Nurse’s Story would worth reading, in order to understand where it is most of us will end up sooner or later, what it is that might be visited upon us and just who it is that will be looking after us.… A Nurse’s Story helps us understand where it is most of us will end up sooner or later.”
Winnipeg Free Press

“Readers may approach this book with the hope of reading dramatic tales such as those seen on television shows such as “ER.” While such readers are not likely to be disappointed, they are likely to discover more than they had hoped.… By turns sad, funny and touching, the author has done an admirable job of providing an insightful look into the real world of an ICU.”
Brandon This Week

“A cracking good read.… Despite the overt moralizing, this is undoubtedly a strong memoir. I hope it’s not the only story Shalof has to tell.”
Quill & Quire


From the Hardcover edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Highly Recommended; Appealing on Many Levels March 10 2004
Format:Hardcover
Initially purchased title, recommended by a collogue, to augment my clinical research on our medical care crisis, shortage and inadequacy of nursing care, high prescription costs, etc., here in Maine, vis a vis our Northern neighbors. Was hoping to find Ms. Shalof's work informative; but very pleasantly surprised to find it so very engrossing and moving, as well.
Must've feared receiving a dry recitation of facts and figures, with a few bare-bones character sketches sprinkled in. Hardly the case, fortunately. Quite detail-rich and filled with a myriad of fascinating characters, both care givers and patients. Confess I finished it, and it's not slim by any means, in 48 hours (my Inbox is now suffering for it!).
Must note, Tilda's work personalized the sometimes heroic challenges high-pressure, medical care practioners struggle with, particularly ICU; at the same time it opened a fascinating window on patient perspective I suspect could not've seen otherwise. Insight on quality of care issues, as well as the "essence" of the nursing experience, will certainly inform my project recommendations. Personally, intrigued by the Canadian nursing perspective -- which, as it turns out (least for this nurse) is not so unlike the best of ours here in the states.
Finally, must comment: top-notch writing! Don't usually lavish praise, but having just finished (for recreation) Hemingway's "Farewell to Arms," I found the unadonred, yet touching directness of her prose, esp. for a first-time author, to've stood up well; in particular, reminiscent of the emotional impact of Hemingway's Catherine in Childbirth scene. Must confess, found as entertaining as P.D. James' "Shroud for a Nightingale," too. Read this book! Won't disappoint on any level.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A nurses review of the book Jan. 3 2006
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Having worked in acute care for over 10 years, reading the book really brought things to home and related many experiences I have had over the years in nusring and why continue to be be a nurse. Tilda has a way with words that describes everything to a tee. A very accruacte heart felt, emapthetic book well worth the read, that at best i could not put down. Look forward to raeding more from Tilda.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bonnie RN May 3 2004
Format:Hardcover
Well written, with humour and compassion. I work on a Medical unit and Step-Down Unit, in a downtown Toronto Hospital (across from the writers') and can strongly relate to her experiences.
Excellent read - she voices very well so much that I have felt and seen in my own experience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Facing ethical dilemmas Aug. 5 2012
Format:Paperback
I innocently started to read Tilda's book thinking I could read bits intermittently. Wrong! She is a magnificent story teller with wonderful characters - both nurses and patients. At this time in history with such a fine line between life and death her book gives compassionate and heart-rending details of the challenges of being a nurse in the impossibly high-pressure of an Intensive Care Unit in a Toronto hospital. As a retired nurse I found myself in awe of her ability to effectively function in the ICU environment.
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