Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Go on a Journey...

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Author Mark McGrath discovers that to raise four children as a single parent, along with continuing a career in nursing, he needs more than a pair of ruby red slippers. He needs the help of family and friends. Tears and laughter flourish throughout his many adventures, trials and unforgettable moments as a nurse and as a father. Join him as he makes...

the journey home.


And we all continued to watch Rico.

Still he struggled, and his breathing remained in the high forties. His daughters were each holding an arm and his wife was stroking his face telling him it was all okay now, that they would be fine and to please go to wherever he needed to go. They all told him to let go, that the family loved him and would miss him, but that his suffering needed to end. His breathing came in short pants, much as a winded athlete breathes after a long race or shift of ice time on a hockey rink (something yours truly can personally relate to).

I listened silently and struggled with the scene myself as it was heart rendering and touching to
witness. I thought to myself how lucky he was to have a family who loved him so much that they wanted him to die so that the pain and illness he was suffering would finally come to an end. The girls were begging Daddy to please let go and stop suffering. The sobs coming from them were unbearable for me to hear.

I watched intensely as another half hour rolled past and Rico continued to writhe and moan. As soon as I was able, I increased the drop rate to eight mg an hour and went about monitoring his progress. His respiration rate dropped from the mid fifties to around forty. But even though the rate had dropped, he still was uncomfortable and was extremely rest-less.

I called Barbara when I increased the rate and asked her to please come speak with me on my dinner break. She told me she would be there shortly and to meet her in the conference room. I told her I would and got myself ready to leave for a well deserved half hour break.

I quickly gave my relief nurse an overview of what was going on and told her that I would change the drip rate if needed when I came back. Both of Rico’s daughters had left to get something to eat themselves and his wife had her head on his hand in what seemed to be a prayer vigil.

I met Barbara in the conference room and gave her the latest news on how he was doing. She knew I was still struggling with things and she sat listening again about how I felt. I told her that I felt I was contributing to his death and that I was having an issue increasing the drip to 16 mg.

What she said to me made a profound difference in how I have approached life and death since that day in the ICU. She told me to put myself in Rico’s place, and asked what would I want?

“Not to be in pain, that’s for sure,” was the first thing I said.

“Mark, he is terminal. You are smart enough to under-stand what’s happening and know that nothing more can be done. The family wants his suffering to stop. Whether he dies now, five minutes from now or five hours from now, don’t you think that the best thing is be humane and make him as comfortable as you can? You can’t kill someone with humanity, Mark. What you can do is treat him as best as you can given what you know, and make the last hours as pain free and comfortable as humanly possible. You need to increase the drip and not worry about how things look. Remember that you are the nurse in charge of making sure he is getting what he needs to be comfortable and pain free. If that was you there, what would you want your family to tell me to do?”

As I listened to her words, I realized that she was right. Both rules applied here: he was one of those patients who got sicker and was going to die, and nothing I knew or did would ever change the fact that he was going to die. So, I did what I would want someone to do for me in my time of dying, in pain, and suffering unbearably.

I went back into the ICU and turned the drip rate to 16 mg.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Outline of Murder- Now available!

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Tired of the politics as well as the bureaucracy of his job, Lieutenant Brad Schrader is contemplating early retirement and pursuit of another career, that of a mystery writer. His endeavors prove useless when he’s called upon to investigate the murder of Melody Anselmo, a Radio City Music Hall Rockette. While searching for the killer, Brad becomes personally involved with the twin sister of the victim.

The story is based on Lieutenant Brad Schrader’s notes while working the case with his partner, Sergeant Detective Phil Barrecca. During the investigation, the pair discover something neither ever expected, something best left unsaid. They agree to let matters rest and not expose the killer even though they know the consequences of their actions could be disastrous.

To this date, the murder of Melody Anselmo is still on the books as a cold case in New York City.


It was the worst case of bad timing that I had ever seen. Everything seemed to be happening at once. The girl, carrying two mugs of coffee, entered, while at the other end of the room, with hat in hand, Phil came strolling in from the foyer.

"Lieutenant, I…" Barrecca's words died in his throat. His mouth dropped open as he stared at the girl. He made a feeble attempt to recover his shock, but failed.

I slowly rose to my feet, taking the whole situation in hand. "Melissa," I said, "this is Sergeant Barrecca. We work together."

"Sergeant," she nodded.

"Phil, this is Melissa Anselmo, Melody's sister."

"Miss Anselmo," he said, and managed to smile.

The moment was awkward and as the girl leaned over to set the mugs down, I gave Phil a high-sign not to say anything.

"Will one of you kindly tell me what is going on around here?" she asked while straightening up. "I'm sure you didn't come here to feed Mr. Tibbetts, Sergeant. Or did you?"

"Who's Mr. Tibbetts?" Barrecca said in complete bewilderment.

"Thank you, Sergeant," she said. "Thank you for your honesty." With unbridled contempt, she looked at me. "I believe he called you Lieutenant. Exactly what division are you in, Lieutenant?"


Her shock was genuine. I could tell by her lower lip; it trembled. Fear flashed into her eyes. "It's about Melody, isn't it?" Her voice cracked with emotion. "Something dreadful has happened to her."

There was no easy way of putting it. "She's dead, Melissa."

"Dead!" Unbelieving, she shook her head from side to side. "It was minor surgery…one doesn't die…"

"The surgery had nothing to do with her death," I said.

"How? How then!" She lashed out at me.

"Melody was murdered."

"Murdered," she gasped. "I…I don't believe you. Why? Why would anyone…?" She started to back away from me as if I were an escapee from a loony bin. "You're wrong," she cried, eyes frantically searching the room. She spotted the fancy white phone on the end table and headed directly toward it.

I followed.

"You're wrong. You'll see," she said, tears spilling down her cheeks. "There's been a mistake. I'm going to call the hospital right now. How could you make such a horrendous mistake?"

Time and time again, I had witnessed the same reaction. The truth was tearing at her guts while her mind was clinging to the hope that a mistake had been made.

I roughly pulled her hand away from the phone. "Stop it, Melissa," I said, "there's no mistake."

My words struck her like a blow.

"Oh, God," she groaned. Her knees buckled beneath her and I caught her about the waist, backing her into the couch.

"Phil, see if there's some brandy in that cabinet over there."

"Sure thing."

Phil managed to get some brandy into her and then we waited. With a terrible feeling of helplessness, we waited. We waited until she was all cried out.

"Is there someone you would like us to call?" I said.

She shook her head in answer.

Finally, through red, swollen eyes, she looked over at Phil and me sitting in the occasional chairs opposite her. "Who…" she sobbed, "who would do…such a thing?"

"We don't know," I said.

"You never knew my sister, did you? All—all this time you knew she was de—dead, and yet…and yet you led me to believe—" she stopped, fresh tears clouding her eyes.

I swallowed hard. "No, I never met her. I'm sorry, but I had good reason for not telling you sooner."

She glared at me. "What reason could you possibly have?"

I didn't answer. If she despised me, I couldn't blame her. For that matter, I wasn't too pleased with myself. "What you might think of me isn't important," I said. "The important thing is to catch the person responsible for Melody's death. You can be of great help to us by answering questions that concern your sister."

"I can't," she whispered, voice filled with despair. "I haven't seen her in over two years." With the handkerchief that I had given her earlier, she brushed at the wetness of her face. "There's something I have to know," she said, making a strong effort to pull herself together. "How did my sister…"

I drew in a sharp breath. "Suffocation. A bed pillow was used."

Even from where I was sitting, I could see the sudden quiver of chills that ran through her body. In an attempt to control the trembling, she folded her arms across her chest. "I knew it," she said, "even before you told me, I knew it."

Phil and I exchanged a puzzled glance.

"How?" I carefully asked. "How did you know?"

She vaguely looked over at Phil and me. "I don't think you would understand," she said.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What's Better Than Chocolate? Find out!

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Years ago Van Marshall, lead singer and guitarist of the metal band Bleeding Passion, let the love of his life get away because he lacked the courage to tell her how he felt about her. He has been plagued by the memory of her ever since then, unable to fully commit to another because of the love he still held for her in his heart. Now, she is thrown unexpectedly back into his life, bringing with her all of the feelings he has hidden inside for so long.

Because of a brutal assault, Kat Vauss hates men and trusts no one. She is a martial arts expert and devotes all of her time to her work and her training. The only person to ever come close to her heart was a shy, awkward boy she knew in high school who she thinks is gone forever.

When Kat is given an assignment to shoot a DVD for Bleeding Passion, she is not prepared for the way her body and heart react to the sensual singer, who coincidentally helped her out of a sticky situation some years before. His presence stirs to life dormant feelings inside of her, but will he show her that not all men are evil and life can still be beautiful and worth living?


He reached over to a bowl that was on the floor next to the couch and he offered it to her. “Chocolate?”

Kat looked at the chocolates and picked one out, smiling to herself. “I have very good memories of these,” she murmured.

She frowned. “My chocolate?”

He grinned. “No. Your memory.”

She looked away sadly and the deepest kind of sorrow welled up inside of her. She felt tears sting her eyes and she swallowed. “It was a long time ago,” she whispered.

He gave her a look of concern, as if wondering why the memory should cause her such sadness. “Are you all right?”

She tried to mask her grief with a fake smile and nodded. “There’s nothing better than chocolate,” she said, trying to change the subject.

He regarded her with an expression that was solemn, but exuded warmth. It was one of those unnerving looks that made it seem like he was looking straight into her soul. It made her squirm and her pulse accelerate in a way that was extremely abnormal for her.

“Some things are,” he said, his eyes holding hers.

Kat’s heart lurched and she felt sick to her stomach. She looked away and pretended to be interested in a thread on the couch.

“Van!” Lance cried. “Dude! This girl’s whipping us all! I’m gonna be naked soon!”

Kat and Van both looked over to see Lance sitting only in his boxers and one sock. Van laughed and Kat took the opportunity. She snapped her book open again and pretended to read, sticking her nose further into it than she needed to, trying to escape. She glanced at Van out of the corner of her eye. He looked at her and smiled knowingly, then stood and went over to Lance. She let out a relieved sigh and didn’t move for the rest of the trip. She had never been so happy to see a hotel in all her life.

Hank helped Rochelle and Kat with their luggage and got them checked in. Kat listened to Rochelle go on and on and on about Lance’s chest, Lance’s torso, Lance’s tattooed arms and rippling biceps, etc., etc., etc. as she put her pajamas on, glad to be in her own room and away from Van. Though she had refused to show any sign of life for the last leg of the journey, she noticed his continued quiet watching of her. He kept to himself, but she could feel his eyes burning into her. It had been the longest ride of her life.

“So I saw you talking to Van,” Rochelle said.

Kat sighed as she set her suitcase inside the closet. “Yeah.”

“What did you talk about? Did he hit on you?”

Kat rolled her eyes. “No, we talked about work and he gave me a chocolate. Big whoop. I’m gonna go find the ice machine.” She left the room and wandered through the halls for awhile, trying to regain her usual composure. Van had rattled her much more than she would have liked. She was always in control, always cool and collected and reserved, but he had made her feel completely neurotic. The things he had said…. The way he had looked at her…. It was freaky. He made her remember things she had tried to forget a long time ago. Things that still hurt like they had happened yesterday.

She paced restlessly for a while longer, until she felt like she had control over herself again, then meandered back to the room, never actually having located the ice machine. She stopped in the doorway and frowned when she saw a folded piece of paper on the floor. She picked it up and stared at it for a moment. Her name was written on the outside of it. She felt instant dread. This was something else that was going to freak her out. She could feel it. She opened it reluctantly.