- Paperback: 164 pages
- Publisher: The Lotus Circle (December 26, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1419980718
- ISBN-13: 978-1419980718
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,832,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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One Foot in Heaven Paperback – December 26, 2008
The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Heidi Telpner accidentally stumbled into nursing twenty-seven years ago and she never stumbled out. She's been a hospice nurse for the last nine of those twenty-seven years. Her initial training was as a midwife. She now midwifes her patients out the other end of life. Ms. Telpner and her husband live on the West Coast. They have three children, a dog, three cats, two birds and one lucky koi.
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"One Foot In Heaven" was a darker book than "Final Gifts." It captured my interest, but there were several times where I'd be reading the book and telling Ms. Telpner "You're the nurse! Get over it!" I felt like she whines more than a hospice nurse would and really believe she should get into a different arena.
Will this book tell you what Hospice is like? Sort of, but I think it tells you more about what Ms. Telpner is like. That's not a bad thing, mind you. But, instead of emphasizing that it is about hospice, the reviews should stress it is about how the author reacts to a difficult job. There is at least one story that I hope people don't pay attention to as it is a nurse's job to put the patient's wellbeing first and foremost, and they need to use community resources sometimes to do that. The patient doesn't always realize the situation they are in doesn't have to be and doesn't realize there are other things out there to help them. Ms. Telpner, in her book, appears to not have a real command of community resources and leaves her patients in unhealthy and sometimes dangerous situations rather than calling for help. Her excuse is that her bosses don't particularly like her. Hmmm, interesting.
Please don't let this be the only source you use to get a picture of what hospice is, but if you like reading memoirs, this is a perfectly adequate one.
Ms. Telpner's job as a hospice nurse isn't to cure her incurable patients. A hospice worker's job is to ease the suffering of those who are facing a terminal illness. And she gives us an unvarnished blow-by-blow account of her battles against this suffering.
Her weapons are pain medications, an open heart, and the tenacity of a pro who approaches her work as something more than a job, more than a career. Her approach involves her entire personhood. In other words, the reader detects the unmistakeable presence of a spiritual calling.
Her patients aren't merely broken "systems". they aren't mere machines that need a new part, or a fluid change.
They too, are embraced in their entire personhood. As complex beings, with complex needs: Spiritual needs, social needs, family needs, bodily needs, etc.
And yet, no idealized glow obscures the reality of her life in the trenches. Ms. Telpner's vivid portraits of the decaying body is depicted in all of its heartbreaking frailty. Likewise the realities of losing a beloved mother, father, or child is convincingly conveyed by the naturalistic style of the author.
Finally, the reality that sometimes the hospice professional is not always successful in alleviating this suffering is unflinchingly, and honestly, portrayed by Ms. Telpner. She is undeniably dedicated, but like the rest of us, she is certainly not perfect. Somedays the hospice worker's best efforts fall short. Sometimes the hospice worker's too weary or too overwhelmed to offer her best effort. But it is precisely this honesty that separates this memoir from the mundane stories offered by lessor talents. For it is the rare memoir that has the smell, the touch, the grit, and the beauty- of Truth.
Upon further reflection, I would say that "One Foot in Heaven" is more than a well-crafted memoir of a hospice nurse's professional life. It is more accurately, a truthful and artistic account of a women's spiritual awakening to the beauty that can be found in a world that is marred by mortality, by the sorrow of infinite loss.
Patrick Damon McIntyre