Saturday, May 31, 2014

What if -- or Just in case . . .

What would you do if one of your loved ones was suddenly admitted to an Intensive Care Unit? Even folks with medical backgrounds don’t always know who is who and what is what in an ICU. Regardless of the kind of unit, generally, they all operate under similar rules and policies.

But, what if you need extra help – of whatever kind – and don’t know who to ask?
What do all those people do, anyway? Why are there so many people in there? Are they all necessary?

For the last year or so I’ve been writing in this space about the Regency period and Regency novels as Hetty St. James. But the real me is Kelly Ferjutz, and it’s in that guise that I’d like to tell you about the latest book of which I am a part.  I am fortunate to live in Cleveland (by choice!) where we have nationally-ranked hospitals. The Cleveland Clinic may be the best known of these, and perhaps ten or so years ago, the Clinic (as it’s known here in town) formed its own publishing company, with an expansive program of books to be co-authored by one (or more) of their physicians and a free-lance writer.

I was fortunate enough to be selected to work with a bright young man – J. Javier Provencio, a neurologist and intensive care specialist. We were to collaborate on a book about Intensive Care Units. Neither of us had a real clue as to what we wanted to do, or just how to approach the topic, which is much like an iceberg – 90% of it and what it does is mostly unknown or understood by non-medical personnel.

Javier took me on a tour of several of these units, and left me with so many unanswered questions, I hardly knew where to start finding answers. I made notes and by the time of our next meeting, two weeks later, I had a list of things to which I would want answers.

I remembered when my Mom was in the hospital for the final time – in an ICU, as it happens, and I knew nothing, and they weren’t going to tell me anything, either. I was the only child, but she had married again, and so, her husband was the only one they really wanted to talk to. He was about as talkative as a rock, so I finally pitched enough tantrums to get some answers, even if they weren’t exactly the ones I wanted.  Five days after Mama died, my 11-year-old daughter ended up in an ICU with a ruptured appendix that had been untreated for several days. Kris nearly died, as well. However, being young and strong and stubborn, she refused to die, and set about proving the doctors all wrong. But that’s another story.

Still, these two episodes made a strong impression on me, and a few years later when I ended up in an ICU, Kris was there to badger the medical staff into telling her what was going on.  Once they assured her I was probably not going to die, she settled down – somewhat – and became a fabulous advocate for me. No one ever had a more staunch supporter than I had in my daughter.  This last episode was in 1978. It might as well have been during the Flintstones’ era compared to the units Javier demonstrated to me in 2006.

Patiently, he explained the process and we worked out an outline of what we wanted our book to be. First and foremost, although the medical portions HAD to be accurate, we weren’t writing for medical personnel. We wanted our book to be a guidebook for the family of the patient – a non-medical family who would have no good idea what was happening or why, or by whom?  And so, over the next 18 months, we devised our book, with which we were well-pleased. We made a final version of the manuscript to be submitted to the Press.

A week later, the Press was closed down, and a week or so after that, it was sold to a small but well-known publisher in New York. They kept the ms. for about a year, finally deciding that although it was well-done, it wouldn’t fit in their catalogue, so they were returning it to us, with best wishes.

Over the next four years, that happened again. Twice. Two different publishers agreed it was a well-done book, but they didn’t think they’d be able to sell it, so, with regrets, they were returning it.

I had been in favor of publishing it ourselves through Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle, and this time around Javier agreed with me, and we are pleased to announce that our book is now available to hopefully answer the myriad questions any family member might have when faced with an Intensive Care Unit.

Since we started the book, Javier and his wife have added a third child to their family. The charming picture at the top of the cover was a collaborative effort by the three of them!

Currently, the book is available as a Kindle e-book, ($4.99) and by (or before) June 15, will also be available in print for $9.99.

We now also have a web-site -- without content, but any day now, it will be live: www.intensivecareguidebook.com    In the meantime, you may send either of us an e-mail to:  intensivecareguidebook@gmail.com 

Of course, the hope is that you'll never need to have this information, but just in case . . . 

Best regards, 

Kelly Ferjutz    and J. Javier Provencio, MD


Tina Donahue said...

Awesome post, Kelly. I have to get this book. It's a service to everyone. Hospitals are scary places, especially ICU's. The fact that no one will tell you what's going on is even worse. Thanks so much for writing this book and sharing with us!

Sandra Heath Wilson said...

I agree with Tina's comment. This is a treasure of a book that will be of immense help to anyone who finds themselves with a loved one in an ICU. It's written so sensibly and considerately that it is bound to bring some relief from the awful anxiety and uncertainty. Kelly and Javier are to be thanked and congratulated.

Fiona McGier said...

Isn't it odd that such a useful book full of information most of us will need at some point can't find a publisher, but some of the most egregious crap is picked up with huge advances? No justice in the world. Best of luck to you with this very useful guide.