BED NUMBER TEN by Sue & Mary Zimmeth Baier


Email this review


All about the ICU unit of a Houston hospital that was Baier's home for four-and-a-half months. She was a victim of Guillan-Barre syndrome, a disease that paralyzes every muscle in the patient's body while leaving the mind and nervous system fully functioning. This first-person account of the illness serves both to inform and to warn. Guillan-Barre is not fatal. Thought to be linked to flu shots, it destroys the myelin sheathing of the neuromuscular system. The myelin does grow back--at the rate of one inch per month. Baler is six feet tall. Her recovery included eleven months in the hospital--four months of which she was totally helpless, attached to a respirator, able to communicate only by blinking her eyes--and six months with a nurse at home. Four years after the onset of her illness, though she lives a fully normal life as a housewife with a husband and two daughters, she continues physical therapy for certain muscles she is still working to control. Though the story of Baler's recovery is dramatic, it is her account of the time spent in ICU, completely at the mercy of the hospital staff, that could convince even the most ardent supporter of America's current health-care system that something has to change. Doctors too busy or self-absorbed to care; nurses, male and female, who treat the patient as so much meat--the charges have been made before, but the daily humiliations suffered by Baler (and her overwhelming joy when she finds a nurse or therapist who wants to communicate and help) make them immediate and terrifying. Bed Number Ten offers little in the way of an examination of the system it quietly questions, and nothing in the way of answers. It is meant to be an inspirational tale and is written in a generic ""woman's magazine"" style that tends to be boring when it drifts off the course of the disease itself. Nonetheless, in its simple, straightforward way the book offers encouragement and hope--and some much-needed cautions--to victims of Guillan-Barre or any other disease requiring long-term hospitalization.

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 1986
ISBN: 0849342708
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston