Posted: November 20th, 2022
Critical book review on “BED NUMBER TEN”.
The book ‘Bed Number Ten’ is a compelling first-hand account of Sue Baier on her experiences while receiving care in an intensive care unit (ICU). Suffering from the disabling effects of Guillain-Barre syndrome that left her in need of a lengthy in the ICU, Sue recounts the painful experiences. She particularly notes how the medical condition limited her mobility and condition, and its implications for interactions with the medical personnel as well as its impact on the health care that she received. She goes on to describe the multiple accounts of task oriented medical personnel who largely ignored her emotional and physical needs. Critical book review on “BED NUMBER TEN”.
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In addition, readers are exposed to her sense of inhumane treatment and isolation, a truly moving account that compels readers to question the task oriented approach to healthcare. All through the book, readers are able to observe both insensitive and sensitive medical personnel. The sensitive medical personnel particularly stand out for taking care of her in a sensitive, effective and passionate manner that met her needs as she perceived them. The book offers an account of Sue’s experiences with long-term care in the ICU, identifying the hardships she faced and giving an outlook of how medical personnel can be sensitive to ICU and critical care patients, as should be the norm (Baier&Schomaker, 1995).
As a first-person, non-fictional narrative that offers a self-descriptive account of a patient’s experiences with a medical condition and care, the book presents an invaluable perspective and understanding of suffering, medical care, and disease. Critical book review on “BED NUMBER TEN”. Through Sue’s highly personal world of anguish, suffering and pain, a reader can complement his/her understanding with the experience gleaned from a patient. From an independent to a dependent adult within 48 hours who required a respirator to breath and unable to move any part of her body except for her eyelids, Sue explains how she survived in the ICU. She was unable to communicate for six months, and used her eyelids for communication purposes until she could talk again. She ended up spending four months on her bed. Throughout the book, readers are exposed to a prolonged essay on the immediate illness and health care in a task oriented environment (Baier&Schomaker, 1995). Critical book review on “BED NUMBER TEN”.
The book is written in the first person and is interspersed with ephemeral epigrams from the diary of her husband. Using a tone of noble, restrained and quiet suffering, the book exposes readers to Sue’s strong support from social systems and religious convictions that propped her up at times when the only predictable reaction should have been despair. She was, for all intents and purposes, helpless and heavily relied on medical personal to cater to her care needs as an invalid, a task that the ICU personnel bungled and left her feeling violated by the medical personnel. Remarkably, readers can perceive a holier-than-thou attitude from Sue as she resolutely goes through the suffering (Baier&Schomaker, 1995). Critical book review on “BED NUMBER TEN”.
The primary theme in the book is the cry of anguish, when Sue calls attention to the need for medical personnel to listen even when there is no sound. Through her experiences as a totally paralyzed patient in the ICU after the onset of Guillain-Barre syndrome, Sue learns with horror and fear that her inability to communicate relegates her to the identity of an object instead of a person who is suffering and in need of health care. She could have emotions, feel pain and hear, but was unable to respond in any way except move her eyelids thereby limiting her capacity for communication. An example of this so seen when she desperately blinks to express her disapproval of antibiotics use that she was reacting to, with her actions being ignored by the both the medical personnel and her husband. She listens to the medical personnel argue over who will provide what care with the argument taking place in her presence thus showing her that none of attending medical personnel is ready to take total responsibility for her care. She is subjected to unnecessary procedures as a result of communication breakdown between her caregivers. She specifically mentions a nurse who was in charge of her care, but was so incompetent that she should not have been placed in charge of any patient. Even considering that Sue was the patient and her account of the ICU experiences were unlikely to have been objective, readers cannot fail to perceive her helplessness to the situation as a patient. She experienced painful and insensitive occurrences that leaves readers feeling angry over the unthinking actions of the medical personnel (Baier&Schomaker, 1995). Critical book review on “BED NUMBER TEN”.
One must accept that Sue’s account as presented in the book is especially moving. The narration is inward looking with a focus on personal experiences, presenting a stinging indictment of the medical personnel who ignored her emotional and physical needs through their singular focus on offering task oriented care. The striking insight offered in the book articulates a combination of material and understandings that should be mandatory reading for medical personnel, particularly those providing care in the ICU and who engage dependent patients who are unable to communicate. In addition, the book offers invaluable messages for patients and primary care providers dealing with chronic or acute debilitating diseases, helplessness, loneliness, suffering, and dependency. No single person who reads this whole book will ever again regards an incommunicative or helpless patient in the same way, and will be more sympathetic towards meeting their emotional and physical needs. Overall, the book is well worth reading for families of patients receiving care in the ICU, but is more important for medical personnel who provide medical care to patients whose capacity for clear communication has been compromised. Critical book review on “BED NUMBER TEN”.
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