Confessions of a Trauma Junkie: My Life as a Nurse Paramedic
Sherry Jones Mayo
Modern History Press (2009)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (6/09)
My initial reaction when I started reading this book was, “Thank God for people like Sherry!” Having worked in clerical positions in radiology and pharmacy, at two hospitals, for several years, I saw a lot, but never had to get my hands dirty. When making my career choices I knew to head into the counseling realm because I didn’t have it in me to handle situations like the ones written about in “Confessions of a Trauma Junkie.” It takes a very special kind of person to handle emergency response situations, especially on a daily basis.
This book contains stories that take us inside the lives of people who deal with traumatic emergency response situations. The author has been an Emergency Medical Technician, an Emergency Nurse and she is involved with Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) teams. In her writings about incidents involving both herself and those close to her, we learn about the depth of humanity that is involved in being willing to work in this field. Sometimes the humanity is reflected by finding humor in macabre situations, other times it is reflected in the despair that the worker feels when they are unable to save someone. As to the humor, it is amazing what some humans are willing to attempt to put in their bodies. As to the despair, I would imagine it is very humbling to realize that you can’t save everybody.
I found each essay to be incredibly compelling. Several also reminded me of similar situations that would occur at the hospitals that I worked at, especially the humorous ones. I was also reminded that in addition to dealing with the job stresses and long hours, each person also has to deal with their own personal issues. Some of the incidents that they are involved with, might be especially difficult if they trigger a personal response, such as when dealing with the tragic death of a child that might be the same age as one of their own. It is very important that emotional intervention is provided when needed to help avoid Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and job burnout.
I highly recommend “Confessions of a Trauma Junkie” by Sherry Jones Mayo to nursing and EMT students. I think it should be required reading for them. I also recommend this book to people who are already working in the field. They will enjoy the stories and I believe that it will be reassuring to them to know that they are not alone in both their feelings and their experiences on the job.