Port De Soller Mallorca

Port De Soller Mallorca

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Book Review: One Foot In Heaven, Journey of a Hospice Nurse by Heidi Telpner

Look inside Amazon UK here
Look inside Amazon US here
Not sure that this was a good choice of book to read in my current condition, but hey, life is all about taking a risk, isn't it. In the end it didn't make me feel any worse. Indeed like most of those dying in the book, I accept my fate with equanimity and really have done so since the moment the surgeon told me, "I can operate but  the thoracic surgeon who needs to be working on you at the same time as me and the consulting anaesthetist also feel that your chances of surviving the eight and half hour surgery that it will take to cut that foot long tumour out, are slim to none."

I have to say it was a little disappointing to be told that, and I did shed a tear or two, but only because Ishbel was in the room with me and SHE burst into tears, which set me off.  But all in all at 57, while not quite ready to die, I have come close to it on any number of occasions in the past and so wasn't too surprised that it had finally caught up with me......

But this is a book review and not about me although I do feel/ hope that it highlights the positivity of what you would probably think of, by looking at the fly leaf of this relatively short volume and think, death equals doom and gloom equals depressive reading.

Not at all, Ms Telpner, (and I do have to confess at this juncture, to knowing the author and she hadn't told me she had produced this book, as an RN specialising in Hospice Care) I imagine, decided to write about her patients and the specialist care they need as a means to show that death, like life itself, should not frighten those who are coming to the end of theirs and nor should families and loved ones fear what is to come.

My understanding of hospice Care was people going into a 'home or unit' to live out their final days, weeks or months. I am not sure if that is the case now even here in the UK as even in my condition I haven't actually considered that far ahead and so have not looked into it at all. But here, the author informs us that this is not the norm in the US and that Hospice Care normally involves the patient being looked after at home with Hospice Carers visiting as often as required to tend to the patient and to support the family.   She describes a variety of cases frankly that go from the sublime to the ridiculous; some with loving caring family rallying round, supporting the dying from both poor and wealthy backgrounds to the downright crazy of visiting the dying relatives of 'caring' drug producer/dealers and occasionally to the dying with relatives who all find it such an inconvenience.

It is a little surreal in places, as Ms Telpner has both strong beliefs and views. Me on the other hand, while I wasn't particularly religious at any point in my life although have been known to read the scriptures from the lectern on more than one church attendance, I can't say I every fully believed in an all powerful god of any denomination. But, what I can say with some certainty is that when the author talks about and refers to 'out of body' experiences, I am a believer in those, having experienced one myself circa 1999/2000 when I had been engaged to run a car park operation at Scotland's premier outdoor event, T in The Park. I became so stressed out over the course of the week/ weekend that during a briefing to my senior operational staff I suddenly became aware of floating above myself and those present and watching from above as my deputy grasped me and sat me down while he continued the briefing.

Is it stress on becoming aware that you are close to death or just stressful situations that bring you closer to these experiences. Clearly from the authors patients point of view it is probably a combination of both and while my experience was borne from the stress of the operational requirements for the event I am not sure if this then leads on to a belief in an afterlife!

I found the book, in parts quite moving and in other places a little disturbing, only because of what might be my future, but through it all it was clear that the author is a person with deep feelings for those who were entrusted to her through Hospice Care and it seems a shame but entirely understandable that due to later incidents that she has taken a 'sabbatical' from a calling that she was clearly meant to be involved in. 

This book clearly isn't for everyone but I don't think I would hesitate to recommend it to a family member who has someone close to them who is dying.  It gives insights into what you can expect to cope with in terms of your loved ones body beginning to shut down and the problems that you will have to cope with and reminds you that while their body may be shutting down that in many cases their minds are still active and lucid and that WE know what is happening but can't always communicate that to you whom we love.  Give it a go, if becomes too much for you you can always put it down...

Editing for Kindle:  5 out 5 
Reading Enjoyment: 
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
Chapters: 5
Page length: 148


  1. Thank you, Tom. And many thanks to Jaye who helped with the formatting. I know this was a difficult book for you.

    1. xx and that Jaye is clever for her own good xx


All posts and photos copyright to the author, unless otherwise stated, and should not be reproduced without permission. If reproduction permitted, full accreditation and link to site must be provided.
Anonymous comments are not invited and will be sent direct to the SPAM box....