Everyone has their own story. Stories are important. They are born of experiments and feelings. They have a beginning, middle and end.
Sanna’s story began on a dark autumn night in the car somewhere on the plains between Pyhäsalmi ABC gas station and Rajahauta, Oulu. A pharmacist, who this time is not the culprit as they tend to be in the literature. The topic stayed stewing in my brains although we didn’t discuss about it for quite a while.
The more time I spent doing research and some other things I realized how many hurdles there were involved in telling the story. Most of them I managed to build myself by doubting my competence.
Sanna’s character was built slowly. I knew exactly what she was like, but how could I make her act as I wanted her to act? I raised her to life and she started to have a life on her own. She became a strong woman who had a hint of both Modesty Blaise and Miss Marple. She can listen people talking with a sensitive ear. As a pharmacist it is within her job description. People talk differently to the doctor and even the police. In a pharmacy it is often heard people saying: “There is no point in bothering the doctor with this. They have better things to do than bother them with vain complaints.”
Especially in the countryside this is a very common way of thinking. It is the same thing with the nurses. They are the ones dealing with the patients in the wards most of the time. The nurses monitor the patient 24/7 and execute treatments prescribed by doctors. Their actions are always under scrutiny and criticism. Especially relatives visiting their loved ones in the care departments are always ready to make notes of every flaw. As the visiting time begins, the patients are being bathed, garmented and fed. The rooms are cleaned and beds are made. The caregivers have withdrawn themselves to the nurse’s station or to the coffee room to make space to the visitors. So, in the eyes of the visitor they have sat around all morning neglecting the patients.
The story of the novel was easier to develop. Especially due to common usage of knockout drops both in true life and fiction. Nobody bothers to mention the victim’s experience or the fact that people don’t have similar reactions on drugs. When studying the basics of pharmacology, we learned that the difference between poison and medicine is dosage. That is, safe drugs do not exist.
After the completion of the manuscript, I realized how actual the whole plot was. The biggest news of the past years has been concerning exploitation cases based in Oulu. The other big issue has been the malpractices in private eldercare. The caregivers were thrown under the bus. People were talking of their work ethic and staff sizing.
Yet the thing is the stature of the industry. Eldercare is in the crisis due to it is not considered as challenging as for example working in operation theatre. As a matter of fact, it is more demanding due to the elderly living in nursing homes are really poorly, both mentally and physically. It is very hard for the staff since the patients are erratic, you never know what they come up with next. Fortunately, the covid-19 pandemic has made nurses more visible and more appreciated than ever before.
This is the most important reason to write Sanna’s story. The nurses and pharmacists need to make their voices heard.