Monday, March 13, 2017

Small Great Things

This week, I want to try something new. In February, I started reading a book called Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. When I was in college, I read her book My Sister's Keeper, and I was quite fascinated.

My tastes tend toward fantasy and science fiction when I read or watch movies. I also like crime shows, like Bones and Criminal Minds. One thing that I don't tend to read or watch is anything medical related.

That's what I do on a regular basis. I've been a nurse for six years now, but even before that, I was a CNA and I was in nursing school. I know what it's like behind the scenes. I deal with death and sickness and on really difficult days, the whole spectrum of human emotions. I know what it's like to be talked down to -- by family members, by patients, even my coworkers at some point. I understand more than I want about the politics behind every decision made.

When I read, or when I'm watching a movie or TV, I want to escape. I want to leave the world that I know and enter a world that I don't.

When I read the description for Small Great Things, I was intrigued. It sounded like something I would be interested in, and after some recent misses in books, I wanted something I could connect with. I just didn't expect to connect quite so well. Small Great Things is a book about a nurse who is black and has to deal with prejudices of a family who is incredibly racist. At first, while I was reading, I thought the book was set in the 50's or 60's. Ruth speaks about racism in a way that made it feel real, that made it feel like it still happened. But then there were small references -- to Tiana from the Frog Princess, and even to Elsa from Frozen.

Suddenly, instead of reading an interesting book, I felt like I was reading about my life. I've been in her situation before. Not to that extreme, but I've been 'fired' by patients before -- just because of how I look. Because I'm not white. I've never stopped to think about what could have happened if an emergency had arisen like the one that Ruth faced.

I'm going to be honest, I had to stop reading. It was horrific to read, and mostly because I'm a nurse, I'm a minority, and I know exactly how she felt. I know what it's like to be treated like that by patients, and I've lived with the terror that maybe I didn't do enough, or that a family member would take me to court for something that I did. I didn't want to know how it ended. Good or bad, I knew that it could be me, and I didn't want to live it if I didn't have to. Maybe that's the coward's way out, but I'm okay with that.

But it made me think, which is exactly why Ms. Picoult wrote the book in the first place. It's supposed to make us reexamine our lives, and the society that we live in. So this week, I want to look at myself, at my race and at my profession, from the eyes of this book. I'd love to hear your comments, especially if you have stories to share as well.