Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Following Family Footsteps

Here’s why I applaud, feel at home with and generally enjoy the company of nurses. And why I link to medical blogs from time to time. I’m declaring my interest.

At a young and impressionable age, before reaching ten, I’d go with my parents to visit Aunt V. in Surrey who owned and ran a nursing home for the elderly. Conversation over supper in the staff room invariably included discussions about bowel movements, the prevention of bedsores and other such intimate matters. So I grew up quite familiar with subjects lavatorial and nursing matters in general. This was my introduction to the world of nursing and care for the elderly and infirm.

My parents eventually bought the ‘home’ and I learnt, first hand, some of the nursing arts: how to utilize a failing memory to help a chronic smoker to stop smoking, how to navigate ‘doctors orders’- which sometimes were clearly bonkers. If I remember correctly, in one particular case, ‘orders’ involved pulling out Mrs’ B’s eyelashes! And then one day, after her visitors had left, I found Mrs. H spitting out gobs of pink, orange, blue and yellow fragments mixed with glutinous drool. ‘Oh my dear, the sweets they brought me are HORRIBLE’! ‘Gosh Mrs. H’ they look like bath salts to me! ‘Cup of tea’?

The home continued until the residents were substantially younger than my parents, at which time they closed up shop. Around that time I offered to take on the home and run it for them. They wouldn’t hear of it, pointing out they didn’t want me to automatically just fall into the family nursing/medical tradition. As it has turned out I’ve followed in the footsteps of my great grandfather, who was a clergyman.

Retaining a sense of humour in grief and adversity, is the saving grace of both nursing and the religious life too.