A fascinating and poignant memoir of the body and its care, told through the experiences of a young nurse.
As a teenager, Molly Case underwent an operation that saved her life. Nearly a decade later, she finds herself in the operating room again—this time as a trainee nurse. She learns to care for her patients, sharing not only their pain, but also life-affirming moments of hope. In doing so, she offers a compelling account of the processes that keep them alive, from respiratory examinations to surgical prep, and of the extraordinary moments of human connection that sustain both nurse and patient.
In rich, lyrical prose, Case illustrates the intricacies of the human condition through the hand of a stranger offered in solace, a gentle word in response to fear and anger, or the witnessing of a person’s last breaths. It is these moments of empathy, in the extremis of human experience, that define us as people. But when Molly’s father is admitted to the cardiac unit where she works, the professional and the personal suddenly collide.
Weaving together medical history, art, memoir, and science, How to Treat People beautifully explores the oscillating rhythms of life and death in a tender reminder that we can all find meaning in being, even for a moment, part of the lives of others.
About the Author
Molly Case is a spoken-word artist, writer, and nurse. She was born and raised in London, where she currently works at St George’s Hospital as a cardiac nurse specialist. Her debut collection of poetry, Underneath the Roses Where I Remembered Everything, was published in 2015. She has appeared in the Guardian, the Independent, the Times, Elle magazine, and Huffington Post, and was named in the Health Service Journal’s Inspirational Women list and the BBC’s 100 Women list.
Molly Case takes us on a wondrous journey into healthcare’s mysterious world, interweaving her nursing care with science and history while, most importantly, offering her patients compassion, all in the midst of allowing us to peer into her personal life as she manages health issues striking her and her father. No one lives a life absent of illness or injury. I hope that when takotsubo syndrome (failing heart) overcomes me, Molly will be available to provide my care. — Henry Jay Przybylo, author of Counting Backwards: A Doctor’s Notes on Anesthesia
Case has produced a serious book, one that deserves a place in the rich contemporary canon of medical memoirs…She is best when describing the conditions that mysteriously hover between physical and psychological…She shows us that the unique role of a nurse is to understand and care for people both physically and emotionally.
This beguiling memoir traces Case’s career as a nurse in various hospitals, and is by turns gut-wrenching in its visceral descriptions of medical emergencies, and filled with the joy and satisfaction of seeing a patient recover…Case’s empathy and compassion are everywhere evident in this beautifully written narrative.
How to Treat People gets to the heart of who we are—how we live and also how we die. I was moved twice over—by the work Molly does as a nurse every day, and by the book she has written.
— Nina Stibbe, bestselling author of Love Nina: A Nanny Writes Home