Monday, August 14, 2006

A DIFFERENT PLACE

A DIFFERENT PLACE


Just my luck as I arrived at the Fever Hospital Ginny was leaving.  I had just been home for my day off but called in at my own hospital to collect any post.  There      was a letter and chocolates from Jamie.  He would be with me soon and I hoped he would find his way to this unfamiliar locality.

After my first day I decided that ‘I hate it, hate it HATE IT.’  There was some ‘horrible language’ on the wards and the wards themselves seemed grimy in comparison to our own pristine wards.  I had two ambulance trips to pick up patients and had to remember which admission department to go to according to the disease.  I think the Fever Nurses were used to this reaction from the Children’s Nurses and they did their best to make us welcome and help us to cope with the very different circumstances.  We were treated with kid gloves.

Soon we settled in and things began to improve but one morning I was asked to bathe a new admission with erysipelas.  He was very dark and extremely hairy and as I started to remove the bedclothes he grasped my hand and leered at me.  I wrenched my hand away and fled to the sluice.  Staff Nurse was great and told me not to worry – they got all sorts on the ward and I wasn’t asked to bathe a man again.

One night on the women’s ward there was a sweet grey-haired old lady with long plaits twined round her head.  We weren’t busy so remembering how Gran used to love me to brush her hair I asked her if she would like me to brush hers.  She nodded, with a sweet smile and as I let down her hair I realised with horror that it was alive.
With shaking hands I excused myself and went to report to Sister.  I was horrified and angry that this could happen.  In my own hospital each morning the junior nurse would go round with the head tray and examine the children’s heads.  Any nits were dealt with and treated immediately so there was no chance of cross infection.

At that time there was a lot of polio, or infantile paralysis as it was also known.  It was a viral infection of the nervous system and patients were treated by being put in an iron lung.  FDR Roosevelt developed polio in the early 1920’s and spent the rest of his life in a wheel chair.  One night when I was on duty, we got this pretty young woman admitted with suspected polio.  She was very distressed as she had twin babies and didn’t want to be separated from them.  The doctor told her firmly that she was very ill indeed and naturally she became more distressed.  I stayed with her as long as possible trying my best to comfort her and was totally shocked next morning to discover she had died during the night.

  It was all part of one’s nursing experience and I concluded that I didn’t want to do Fever Training and wondered if I really wanted to do my General.  I felt very fortunate to be nursing children.

One of the younger doctors was very attentive and asked me for a game of tennis but I was waiting to hear from Jamie and didn’t want any complications so politely refused.
At last a letter came to say he was arriving that day.   I sent a telegram to Mum to ask her to get Jamie to ring which he did at eleven thirty pm.  We arranged that he would come here for my evening off so I washed my hair before going to bed.

Next day was a lovely day and I had an ambulance trip to Knutsford to pick up a patient.  Off duty at 5pm and there was my darling in the waiting room.  We went to a place, incredibly named Bogart Hole Clough.  I remember it as a steep valley with lots of trees.  We walked dreamily and ended up in Manchester at the Blue Angel for a meal.  Then Jamie took me back to Hospital and we parted.  But only for a day.

15 comments:

apprentice said...

You've got a great ear for capturing the way English was written and spoken then. It feels authentic to me, based on films and such.

PI said...

apprentice: honey maybe it's because i still speak like that. Is that why I get funny looks sometimes when I speak to strangers?

Life of a Banana said...

mmmnn, tell us about that young doctor.

When are you going to get to the grass on the skirt bit?

Life of a Banana said...

well, i think Keira Knightley should play the young Pat.

Can I be the matron in drag?

R. Sherman said...

I second LOAB's casting suggestion. Except the "drag" part.

Cheers.

R. Sherman said...

I second LOAB's casting suggestion. Except the "drag" part.

Cheers.

Josie said...

Hi, thank you for visiting my boring little blog. Knowing me, I would get hit by the train.

Josie

FOUR DINNERS said...

Hattie Jacques rules!!

PI said...

LoaB: you should read Mary Webb - her heroines were frequently 'thrown in the bracken'!
I'm flattered by your suggestion but I doubt if Keira would be.

Randall: how lovely to have two male commenters agreeing about something.

Hi Josie and welcome!

4d: sadly we never had a Matron lik Hattie!

Guyana-Gyal said...

My head has started itching now!

The things that happen in the senior citizens' ward, oh my goodness. I've heard a few from my cousin and her batch mates too :-o

As for leery male patients. Oh my.

PI said...

GG: mine's been itching since I wrote it.

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

My favourite part was the bit where you said the children's nurses were treated with "kid gloves."

That sounds like a tough ward. How does polio spread? Those poor wee twins - how did they not get it? Were health workers vaccinated at that point?

PI said...

Sam: it is a viral infection spread by droplet infection through the nose and mouth. We were given a Salk vaccine which was a few drops of liquid on a sugar lump but I can't remember if I had had it then. Hopefully her babies would have a certain amount of immunity. We didn't know so much about it then and thankfully it has practically died out in most countries. We were masked and gowned but when she was so distressed i did giive her a hug which wasn't very bright.

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

I remember getting my polio sugar cube too, at school. But how did the woman get it? Was vaccination not mandatory back then?

PI said...

Sam: I'm fairly sure it wasn't in 1949.