Opening My Heart
By Tilda Shalof
Published by McClelland & Stewart Ltd, 2011
I have no idea how I missed this great book, or indeed the many others Tilda Shalof has written about her nursing experiences, but I am glad to have finally discovered her as an author.
Tilda is an ICU Nurse, working with some of the sickest patients in the hospital. She is active, busy, constantly on the go, combining her life as a nurse with her family life, pushing into the background that her own long-term heart valve problem is getting worse and her cardiac health is deteriorating. Eventually she is forced to confront reality and is advised that her only option is open-heart surgery to replace the defective valve.
She is now on the other side of the bed-sheets, having to adjust to the thought of having a serious albeit relatively routine operation, and she is afraid, despite of - or more likely because of - her knowledge and experience. How she comes to terms with that fear, documents her thoughts and wishes should things go wrong, informs her family and friends of her impending operation and prepares for surgery makes fascinating reading.
Even more fascinating is her experiences as a post-operative patient, seeing things very differently now that she is ill, dependent and helpless, and how frightening this can be. She skilfully interweaves her current thoughts with reminisences of experiences, patients and colleagues from her nursing past and has created an absorbing diary of this turbulent and traumatic time in her life.