Monday, April 17, 2006

AN INVITATION

Story contd.


Back on the surgical ward, I was thankful to be on a ward where the patients, mostly, were admitted, had their op and went home after a few days, fit and well. The majority were T’s and A’s (tonsils and adenoids). Before WW2 it was the norm to remove them at the first sign of trouble. I had mine out aged three. During the war the hospitals were more stretched, the lists got longer and longer and it was realised that in most cases, by the age of eight, the problem had disappeared

The one thing we dreaded were ‘bleeders’: patients who bled unremittingly after their op. A close watch was kept on their pulse rate to monitor this, but our hearts would sink if there was a redhead or a certain wishy- washy, mousy hair colour coupled with a pasty skin. I don’t know if there is a scientific explanation for why these patients were more likely to bleed, but as student nurses we believed they did.

We also treated mastoids and we had a staff nurse who was brilliant at dressing the most delicate wounds with such skill that the patients kept calm. I really enjoyed this type of nursing and took pride in following her example. Going to theatre with a patient could be nerve wracking when you didn’t know what to expect. The theatre staff were super efficient, had low fuses and Heaven help you if you had forgotten theatre socks or any of the things you were meant to remember. One of the anaesthetists had a whacking great diamond on her finger and I stared, fascinated as she spilt ether on it, as well as on the mask she placed over the child’s face. It was so mesmerising I used to wonder if I was soaking up the ether myself.

The consultants were treated like gods; a hot water bottle for this one – special soap for that one. In my ignorance I thought they were great fuss- pots but of course the soap was for an allergy and the hot water bottle to warm the consultant’s hands before he examined a child. Nevertheless when the ENT specialist entered the ward in white theatre gum boots and a lamp on her head, there were a few sniggers when a child called out:

‘Coo look! A miner!’

I went out a couple of times with the chap I met at the Christmas dance and then it fizzled out. One of our set – Ginny - was on the ward with me and we discovered that she lived just north of our valley and would travel on the same bus. Most of the girls came from round Manchester and there was a subtle difference. The staff in Kendal Milne’s Store used to blench when it was our Wakes Week, and they were over-run with these strange folk from the valley. Ginny and I spoke the same language and became close friends.

Just before my eighteenth birthday I got a lovely surprise: an invitation from MTL to go as his partner to a Commemoration Ball. I told Maddie when I phoned her and she said it would be a wonderful experience. I couldn’t wait to tell Mum and Dad on my day off.

9 comments:

Jennyta said...

I was so interested to find your blog. My mother was a nurse (a long time before you) and, strangely, she had brothers called Ernest and Bill. I did 6 months paediatric nursing in 1966 before I decided on teaching instead. I'll be back to read more....

PI said...

Welcome jennyta: You must love children to go from sick kids to teaching. Is your mother still around? She would have some interesting tales to tell. I always regret not asking my family more questions so that is one of the reasons I'm doing the blog

OldHorsetailSnake said...

What an interesting way to grow up...

mreddie said...

It is amazing how so many ways of treating things have changed over the years. Years ago I was put to sleep with ether and woke up very sick. ec

Tan Lucy Pez said...

What a lovely blog you have. I've just read every single post.

Good job.

Jennyta said...

Mum died three years ago. She was 87. I do have a short tape recording of her talking about past times but not as much as I'd like.

PI said...

Hoss: that's assuming I actually have.

mreddie: hopefully it's less traumatic these days.

tan lucy pez: well done. Glad you enjoyed it. There won't be and end of term exam!

jennyta: I did the same with my Mum but haven't played it since she died in '99. Maybe it's time I did.

FOUR DINNERS said...

Had me tonsils out age 5? at Oldham Royal I think. They tried to give me a pill to knock me out n I legged it. Doctors, nurses, porters, they were all chasing me around the hospital. Took 'em ages to catch me. A nurse bribed me to stop runnin' with a teddy bear. Still got the teddy bear. It's called 'Ads' as the nurse was nurse Adams. (Don't tell anyone it'll ruin me street cred)

PI said...

4d: just the sort of patient that would give us all heart attacks. What a baaaaad boy!
However if you have a teddy you can't be all bad.