Julie Cahill, who has been an intensive care patient and is a member of the Society’s Patients and Relatives Committee, reviews Alison Murdoch’s book ‘Bed 12’.

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When renowned Buddhist and radio contributor Alison Murdoch’s husband falls suddenly and severely ill with viral encephalitis her entire world is turned upside down. As Simon spends five weeks in a London ICU, Alison soon realises that the hospital has become her own, sanitised world within a world, and that she is merely ‘visiting’ the rest of her life in her brief moments of respite from her husband’s bedside.

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This is a very moving book, which gives a fascinating insight into how relatives of patients in ICU experience the ever-changing reality of their loved-one’s illness.

The alien world the author suddenly finds herself catapulted into is depicted with honesty and insight. The importance of the tiniest details (‘he asked for a blanket!’), the hourly rollercoaster between hope and despair and the amazing solidarity that the hospital walls engender between human beings are all sensitively portrayed.

There are moments of profound reflection on how one can cope with the possibility that someone closest to you may be about to die, and equally touching humorous anecdotes which will ring true with anyone who has been in ICU, known someone with a severe illness or indeed a professional working in that environment. Whilst Alison’s own faith provides her with much support and underpins many of her coping mechanisms, her book also resonates with universal life lessons, which will touch you, regardless of your beliefs or experience of life in Intensive Care.

 

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Bed 12 by Alison Murdoch ( Hikari Press) is available for purchase here.

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