3 thoughts on “Sorry, Florence. No degree, no job.

  1. Mark

    The Skeptical Doctor at his incisive best.
    However in his long career Dalrymple has encountered the occasional nurse he did’t like. A couple appear in his personal memoir ‘Fool or Physician’; he describes them as ‘old school nurses’ who have no truck with new fangled ideas, ‘like science’.
    The first impression they made on the young Dr Daniels was how crisply white their uniforms were; in another evocative aside, he said he feared that staring at the ‘ample bosoms’ housed in the brilliant white uniforms could induce snow-blindness !

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  2. The Skeptical Doctor Blog
    Thank you for reminding me of that, Mark. I just had to pull the book off the shelf to re-read (and copy) that very funny passage:

    In one of the geriatric wards there were two old-time nurses, who had returned to nursing. They were splendid creatures, ample of girth, one of them in crisp green uniform, the other in fine blue and white stripes. Each vast bosom was kept in order by a stiffly-starched apron of dazzling whiteness: one would get snow-blindness looking at it for too long.

    These two nurses had a no-nonsense attitude to their calling. They didn’t hold with new-fangled ideas, like science. They believed that when a patient was destined to die no power on earth – certainly not hospitals, conceited doctors, or nurses – could intervene. The geriatric ward was their domain. Visited rarely by a doctor, and then only to withhold antibiotics from a stroke patient who had contracted pneumonia, these nurses had an elemental view of their calling: to keep the ward clean, the bowels moving, and to suppress by sedatives any human noise in competition with the television. In their ward, television was not an entertainment but an invariable accompaniment to every minute of the day. The only way for the patients to avoid the flickering screen was to close their eyes; but there was no escaping the stream of banal banter. (It is strange how many nurses think paralysed people are also deaf.) The ward often presented the visitor with a bizarre, not to say hideous, juxtaposition of impressions: the smell of urine, two rows of passive, incontinent old people lying motionless in cots, saliva dribbling from the corners of their mouths, and television pictures of young people gyrating to the latest hits in stroboscopic lighting, or a breathless young woman in a leotard demonstrating keep fit exercises to over¬weight housewives at home – AND one two three AND touch your toes AND one two three . . .

    And if the two nurses, who meant no harm by it, considered that one of their patients was being deliberately difficult, he or she was given the bath treatment. Into the bath the aged delinquent would go, where he or she would stay for a couple of hours or so. (Sometimes, on the other hand, the patients were left in the bath not as a corrective measure but because it was simply forgotten – until medicine time – that they were there.) As a method of sedation it was, I think, moderately successful, though a trifle old-fashioned.

    Reply
  3. The Skeptical Doctor Blog
    Thank you for reminding me of that, Mark. I just had to pull the book off the shelf to re-read (and copy) that humorous passage:

    In one of the geriatric wards there were two old-time nurses, who had returned to nursing. They were splendid creatures, ample of girth, one of them in crisp green uniform, the other in fine blue and white stripes. Each vast bosom was kept in order by a stiffly-starched apron of dazzling whiteness: one would get snow-blindness looking at it for too long.

    These two nurses had a no-nonsense attitude to their calling. They didn’t hold with new-fangled ideas, like science. They believed that when a patient was destined to die no power on earth – certainly not hospitals, conceited doctors, or nurses – could intervene. The geriatric ward was their domain. Visited rarely by a doctor, and then only to withhold antibiotics from a stroke patient who had contracted pneumonia, these nurses had an elemental view of their calling: to keep the ward clean, the bowels moving, and to suppress by sedatives any human noise in competition with the television. In their ward, television was not an entertainment but an invariable accompaniment to every minute of the day. The only way for the patients to avoid the flickering screen was to close their eyes; but there was no escaping the stream of banal banter. (It is strange how many nurses think paralysed people are also deaf.) The ward often presented the visitor with a bizarre, not to say hideous, juxtaposition of impressions: the smell of urine, two rows of passive, incontinent old people lying motionless in cots, saliva dribbling from the corners of their mouths, and television pictures of young people gyrating to the latest hits in stroboscopic lighting, or a breathless young woman in a leotard demonstrating keep fit exercises to over¬weight housewives at home – AND one two three AND touch your toes AND one two three . . .

    And if the two nurses, who meant no harm by it, considered that one of their patients was being deliberately difficult, he or she was given the bath treatment. Into the bath the aged delinquent would go, where he or she would stay for a couple of hours or so. (Sometimes, on the other hand, the patients were left in the bath not as a corrective measure but because it was simply forgotten – until medicine time – that they were there.) As a method of sedation it was, I think, moderately successful, though a trifle old-fashioned.

    Reply

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