Claudia Sanborn is a retired registered nurse and author. Her book, The Yellow Sick Road has received positive reviews and claims from those in the field of nursing and the lay public. I welcome her to share her most interesting story as a traveling nurse for many years.
What inspired you to write the book?
When I started to be a nurse some of the experiences that happened to me were so surreal and unbelievable I started to keep a journal. I said to my self--when I retire I'm going to write a book of all that I have been through. I wanted the public to be aware of what nurses go through. I also wanted to write about some of the most moving and memorable experiences. I was afraid of getting blackballed and labeled while being a nurse so I waited until I knew no harm could come to me as far as my career.
How did you come up with the title?
When I was working as a travel nurse in Washington DC I went to the Smithsonian Museum. While there I saw the Ruby Slippers Dorothy wore in the Wizard of Oz. I was so homesick and related to the movie quote--"there's no place like home." I was obsessed to find out more about the Author Frank Baum and how he came up with the story. I wanted to see if there was really a Yellow Brick Road. I read the book and the characters reminded me so much of my many work experiences that I implemented it into my book. I even spray painted a sidewalk I have that goes to a cabin by my house--yellow.
Do you see writing as a career?
I have two more books in mind that I keep thinking about. I had help with my book by going to a writer’s guild at a small junior college that is located near where I live. They helped me a lot. I found an editor and all the right people to help me put it together and on amazon. I got close to having it published and it was referred to one of the top five publishers---but I think I didn't have enough notoriety to really make it happen.
If you could do it all over again, would you change anything in the book?
I'm thinking of doing a revised version. I think I would not have mentioned certain family members--even though I asked permission--certain things that happened to me. My revised book I'm working on right now has some quotes from famous people, which are more inspiring. At the end of each chapter I am putting Lesson Learned. I'm putting how it helped me to go through some of these experiences and why I'm now a better person (hopefully). I would like to be more of an inspiration. But--I could not lie. The things that happened to me as far as abuse and bullying in such a fragile setting are very serious. I am not alone and my feed back from readers is that it helps validate what they also have experienced. New nurses need not be afraid of my book but be aware and go into the field knowing what some of their challenges are going to be. They need to know in the beginning if they are cut out for this occupation. It's better than going through and then finding out later.
My brother-in-law Bruce Sanborn is an art major and has taught at junior colleges in California. I was fortunate enough that when I did a nurse travel assignment there I would go to his house and we would work together on cover and pictures throughout the book. I loved the creative part in doing the book. I don't think I have seen a nurse book out there that is like mind. I wanted it to be whimsical and to imagine what it was like to experience what I experienced. I didn't want a boring sad storybook.
Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?
I spoke at the Pre-Rally this year in Washington DC. I am trying to help make change for the nurses and the patients. We need public awareness for change. I'm on a committee in Utah where we are trying to make it a misdemeanor to abuse or bully in the workforce.
I would not discourage anyone from being a nurse. My last 22 years have been the best and the worst--but have helped me be who I am today. You just need to be prepared and tough. I think I helped my patients and some will probably always remember me. I have been fired to protect cna's and nurses. They don't even know I was their advocate--but I do. It is a secret quiet feeling I have deep down that I did the best I could. I am still a nurse and in good standing. I have two more months before it has been two years since I last took a travel assignment. But I think I want to leave well enough alone.
What were the greatest challenges in writing this book?
I should have been more organized and did an outline first. I wish I had known more about writing memoirs and nonfiction. I have lost a lot of sleep wondering if I was going to be sued for what I wrote--even though I tried to disguised places, times, and people. I wish I knew the laws better about nonfiction. I probably would have used a pen name and that would probably give me more peace of mind.
An excerpt from my book:
"In the morning, I put my levis on, added my cowgirl belt, slid into my western shirt and pulled on my boots. Then I walked into the Witch's den. It didn't matter that I had seven years of good standing at the Big hospital. All they cared about was the last six months at their sister hospital.
I walked up the stairs into a big auditorium-type room where all the big chiefs. HR, DON, and management personnel sat with their Witch's smiles. I don't remember what they said. I just took there little termination of employment paper and walked out. I wanted to yell, "Hypocrites!" but I didn't say a word.
I drove away, beside myself, not knowing who to call or if I should just start yelling and crying. If there had been a cliff nearby, I may have driven off it."
I want to thank you, Karen, for asking me to do this interview. I wish I could have ended it on a more cheerful note but unfortunately that is not what this book is about. Nurses have emailed me in the middle of the night so overwhelmed and not knowing where to turn and I feel I have helped them through some unbearable times.
In closing---"Before all of us stretches a Yellow Brick Road of sorts. Everyone born into this world gains life experiences along the way. Some spots along the road are pleasant, while others may be bumpy and treacherous. For me, the road has been filled with many unexpected twists and turns."
Claudia Sanborn RN, ONS, ACLS, BLS