Kristy Chambers would often share stories of her work as a nurse over coffee with friends.
But her stories often received a different kind of reaction.
“The response to my work stories was usually horrified silence or horrified laughter,” she said.
Kristy’s friends suggested she begin writing down her stories.
She did - and the end result is a newly published memoir titled Get Well Soon! My (Un)Brilliant Career as a Nurse.
“It seemed a shame to let these unique situations and interactions just turn to dust,” Kristy said.
“Some of the more traumatic moments I have experienced in nursing have been burned into my psyche, so I suppose writing is also somewhat cathartic, much like talking to your family or partner after a
hard day at work.”
Kristy’s book details how she fell into nursing, and provides an honest and funny account of her experiences working with patients ranging from drug addicts through to cancer patients and those in emergency.
Originally from Adelaide and now based in Brisbane, Kristy has spent almost a decade as a nurse, working in several hospitals in areas such as oncology, haematology, bone marrow transplant, in a methadone clinic, drug and alcohol detoxification, in clinical research and general medical wards.
Kristy said she hopes other nurses will find her memoir entertaining.
“I’ve had work colleagues read it and say that they are going to give it to their non-nurse family and friends to show them what the job is really like,” she said.
“There are a lot of universal themes in the book; grief, frustration, the black humour found in extreme situations, but I don’t proclaim to speak for all nurses.
“These are just my reflections of my experiences and I’m clearly no Florence Nightingale, but I don’t regret choosing nursing as my career, not even for a second.
“I’d like to think that the book might be reassuring for some people, especially to nurses new to the profession.
“I felt like a fish out of water at the beginning, but nursing eventually became comfortable for me.”
Kristy said it took about a year to write the book, spread out over three years of nursing and general life, and she is now about to embark on long service leave with some well-earned time spent in New York City.
“I have already begun writing another book and I am keen to get stuck into it while I have the luxury of free time, but I also plan on doing nothing at all if the urge should take me,” she said.
“There are a lot of bagels in NYC and I am determined to eat them all.”
Despite the pressures of nursing and the shift work, Kristy said nursing is a profession she loves.
“I love feeling that I am helping people by going to work and that what I do for a living matters,” she said.
“No day is ever the same in nursing, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to meet and care for such an interesting and diverse mix of patients.
“The situations nurses find themselves in can be so extreme that it sometimes feels like only other nurses can understand it, which makes you fast friends and creates a strong bond.”