An Autoethnography on the Liminal Spaces in an Intensive Care Unit
Liminality is an in-between space that, as for the teenager who is neither fully child nor adult, accompanies new norms, routines, and expectations while simultaneously remaining in flux. This thesis explores the history of liminality, its presence in the literature, and then applies Victor Turner’s notion of liminality to various as-yet unexplored aspects of a hospital, its Intensive Care Unit, and life itself within this context. In this autoethnography, the author, an ICU nurse, identifies and describes such liminal spaces as the Code Blue where a patient is neither dead nor alive, the challenge of caring for patients for whom the nurse believes treatments to be futile, and the ways in which the nurse finds humour within a context of death. Fictional literature is employed throughout to demonstrate how liminality feels to the author, who invites the reader to look behind the hospital room curtain and see what the ICU nurse sees.