Saturday, June 16, 2012
Some nurses escape the pressure of a high-stress job through sports, music, charity work, crafts or other hobbies. Jas Gabbidon writes about her experiences and emotions, both as cartharsis and to help others.
Gabbidon, an intensive care nurse at Emory University Hospital, wrote poetry as a child and has completed a yet-to-be-published novel. To many of her readers, she’s known as a grief and bereavement writer for www.examiner.com, an online source for entertainment, information and inspiration.
“Writing for me is therapeutic and a great stress reliever. Besides, I’ve learned so much through nursing. How could I not share it?” said Gabbidon, RN, BSN, CCRN.
A nurse for more than 16 years, Gabbidon spent 10 years in labor and delivery and then switched to intensive care. For the past six years, she has worked on the 5E intensive care unit at Emory.
“The ‘E’ does not stand for easy,” she said. “We get some of the sickest patients in the Southeast transferred here from other hospitals, but I like to learn and I enjoy the critical-thinking aspect of the job. You have to be on your toes all the time.”
In her unit, nurses see so much pain and hurting in patients and their families that “it would be impossible to work there and not have a heart for helping people,” she said.
While Gabbidon has no formal training in grief and bereavement, she has plenty of personal experience that helps her empathize with patients and write about the subject. When she was 9, Gabbidon was at her father’s side when he died. When Gabbidon was in nursing school, her mother suffered a ruptured aneurism that caused brain damage. She almost quit from the grief, but realized that her mother wanted her to stay in school.
The nurse also recently lost a sister to breast cancer. Gabbidon was grateful that her nursing knowledge helped her family make good end-of-life decisions.
All of those experiences inform her nursing and her writing.
“The message I took from my father’s death is to live life to the fullest,” she said. “I learned to love hard, to live hard and to be faithful to what you want.”
While Gabiddon had wanted to be a nurse since childhood, she also loved to write. When exploring freelance writing opportunities, she discovered examiner.com, which asked her to submit an article.
“I wrote about children visiting their loved ones before they die, which was a topic I knew something about,” Gabiddon said.
She has been submitting articles about grief and bereavement ever since. When Gabiddon wrote about miscarriage, she interviewed Marcia McGinnis of SHARE Atlanta, a group that supports families after the loss of a child.
Work and life experiences are the catalysts for many articles. For example, Gabbidon wrote a piece about grief for teens when one of her daughter’s classmates died suddenly.
“Sometimes something I see in the news will give me an idea, such as the suicide of Don Cornelius, a ‘Soul Train icon,’ ” she said. “I always do some research and reading to find information that I think might be helpful to readers. I don’t want to write an article just based on me and my knowledge.”