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Book Review: 50 Years in the OR by Ron Whitchurch

Ron Whitchurch’s book is an insightful and honest exploration about how an OR nurse, specializing in anesthesia manages to cope. The stories contained in this book are priceless. They clearly showcase that a normal day for a nurse anesthetist is difficult and hard to bear. Yet because of this its probably the most exhilarating and exciting type of nursing practise there is.


    Whitchurch’s career spanned five decades. And during this time, he has a lot of stories from the OR. All his stories have heart and soul. They transport the reader into the world of the OR with all its successes and failures.


    From airway management to intubation, working as a nurse anesthetist requires skill, hard work, empathy, and much more. Some patients were boisterous. Others were patient. Some were in pain. Others were scared. Some patients were laughing. Some were crying. It wasn’t uncommon for Whitchurch to witness all these emotions in a day. Being a nurse anesthetist was always an adventure.


    Whitchurch was always extra empathic and patient with his patient. He always knew how scary it can be to go into surgery. However, when in the last third of his career he developed a deadly blood and immune system cancer called multiple myeloma, he had another kind of wake-up call. Before that he was in excellent physical condition. He was working full time and riding his bike about nine miles, three times a week. Suddenly, things became quite different.


    The early symptoms he experienced were extreme bone pain in his ribs and sternum as well as thoracic pain. He had a cold which turned into pneumonia. This put him into the hospital. For the first time, he experienced how it felt to be a patient instead of a health care provider. Whitchurch now became aware firsthand what it meant to suffer and experience extreme pain. He knew how it was to be scared by a serious diagnosis. And he knew what it meant to feel hopeless because he no longer was able to function as he used to in the past.


    Today, he continues to be in remission. But he must endure monthly infusions of an immunotherapy drug, along with pills, to keep him healthy. In the process, he developed even more empathy for his patients and what they were going through. This was a time of reckoning.


    Its hard for any of us to know precisely what it is like to feel sick. Its equally difficult to realize how hard it is to go into major surgery with any kind of equanimity. All we know is that we need to have the surgery otherwise we will experience a low quality of life. When our thoughts get to this point, the choice is easier to make.


    I loved this book. It is a book that will make you laugh and cry. But in the end, you will have an appreciation for how hard it is to be a nurse anesthetist and how hard it is to ensure that you care for more than just the body but also reach into the inner depths of the patient. Because when it comes to administering health care, its important to care for the body and mind. That is what humane health care is all about.


To purchase Whitchurch’s informative and inspiring book, please double click on this link:



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