New ‘Journal of the Plague Year’
Living and Working with Veterans with AIDS
This book is a penetrating first person memoir by a male nurse and Vietnam era veteran who worked with AIDS patients at a Veterans hospital in NYC in the early ‘nineties. Though set in the first years of the epidemic, one reader has said, “This book will stand among the classic tales of illness and healing.”
Many of the veterans depicted suffered not only from AIDS, but also mental illness, PTSD, alcoholism and drug addiction. The story is set on the ward that was called “Paradise Alley” by the men, because it lay “somewhere between heaven and hell… but mostly hell.” The provocative story is grounded in the timeless essence of nursing: caring. But it also reveals the nurse’s frustration in dealing with bureaucracy and indifference, as problematic in the 21st century as it was decades ago… perhaps moreso during today’s ongoing national debate about healthcare.
Ultimately it is a beautiful story of one man’s struggle to stay sane and compassionate while working in an end-stage AIDS ward. It can also help today’s caregivers — not just of AIDS patients, but also the elderly, the mentally ill, the criminally insane and others whose conditions require long-term confinement — a better context for understanding their roles in the increasingly conflicted world of medicine today.