Thursday, 14 September 2017

Accident And Emergency 1990


" And what do you do for a living?" 
I'm on the train to London and the question came from a woman sitting opposite me half an hour ago.
She is middle aged and is dressed well. She is going to visit her son who lives in Chiswick .
I already know that his name is Harry, that he is a successful urban landscaper and that he has a partner called Luis.
She's a chatter, so I am now pretending to work on my tablet. We have already covered a great deal of mutual information swapping and we are only at Crewe!
" I'm a retired nurse" I told her, and the phrase suddenly felt rather odd being spoken out loud.
My companion wanted to hear some nursing stories and I was happy to oblige her.
I, as you know, love an audience.
I told her about Finlay pulling a patient's tracheostomy tube out. The amusing tale of how we nurses used to take our spinal injury patients out to the pub in their wheelchairs to get pissed and the story of how an elderly senile patient died on a minibus outing to Delamere forest without any of us noticing.
Stock stories all well rehearsed .
She then asked me what my saddest memory of nursing was and this brief memory popped into my head out of the blue.
I shared it as we drank our coffee.
My father died in 1990, just as I was in the middle of my accident and emergency placement as a post  registered student nurse. He had a sudden heart attack, so when I returned to work after his funeral I was rostered to work in the minor injuries department as it was thought that " majors" was a little too stressful.
One morning a junior sister from majors rang down to see if there was a nurse free to help her with a job and so I volunteered myself to go. The job, as it tuned out was the "laying out" of an elderly lady who had been brought in dead after collapsing in the city centre whilst out shopping.
I remember that the sister had an incredibly strong Scottish accent.
Anyhow, Our job was to tidy her up before her husband arrived from home.
The husband, who was in his eighties duly arrived and I left the sister to take him behind the curtains to see his wife.
I had only been gone fifteen minutes or so, before the Scottish sister sought me out again.She looked upset but was composed. " I need you to help me ! The husband wants us to do something for him!" 
She explained the husband's request and asked if I was up to it.
I nodded.
We returned to the cubical where the man sat quietly with his wife.
He was dressed neatly in a shirt, tie and pullover I remember
I stood on one side of the bed and the Scottish sister stood on the other and after a nod, the old man climbed awkwardly onto the bed and lay almost on top of his wife, with his head over her shoulder.
The sister motioned to me and we each took one of the woman's arms and gently wrapped them around the man's back as he started to cry.

He had asked us to help him have a last moment in his wife's arms

68 comments:

  1. NSFW. I'm crying at my desk.

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  2. That has really choked me up. How beautiful.

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  3. It flattened the mood on the train journey for sure !

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  4. I'm wondering how many bereaved people would miss out on that last moment for fear of asking?

    I'm pleased you could do that for him.

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  5. You always make me laugh, John, sometimes make me cry...but this is the first time I've done both in the same post.

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    1. Better than making you sick

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  6. makes you stop and think......thank you for sharing.......

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  7. I'm literally in tears, probably because I lost a dear colleague yesterday. But also because that man wasn't embarrassed to show his love for his wife. Beautiful.Being in your 60's sucks your friends start to disappear.

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  8. Tears...I Wonder how I will ever say goodbye to the man I have spent 53 years with. Hopefully I'll go first.

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    1. I know what you mean Linda... He is 9 years my senior and we have been married 28 years.. This last year i feel like he has aged considerably and it breaks my heart to see... and i wish the same thing... that i go first... Hugs! deb

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  9. Oh my . . . my heart . . .
    So thankful you were a nurse . . .
    and that you shared this moment . . .

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  10. Love is such a heartbreaking emotion. Would there was such compassion in all of us.

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  11. This story is so moving. So glad you both felt you could grant this poor husband his request.

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  12. I am sorry I read this first thing in the morning.. sadly I know exactly how that old man felt .

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  13. You bastard! Sitting here like an idiot crying! Wasn't expecting that.

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    1. I remember that when the Scottish sister started to cry so did I

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  14. You know, a lesser person or a person hardened by life or damaged by hurts, would have mocked this. I've known a few like that and wondered how they lost their humanity or who the hell hurt them so much. Thank you.

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  15. Jesus John! I am a blubbering idiot right now!!
    Thanks pal!

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  16. Thank goodness you could make his wish come true. Gosh, I cried. I really don't understand people who ask about the saddest moment in your,or any one's,career or life.

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    1. She was rather frivolous at first Jane and the question came on the back of the funny stories , I don't think she expected it to be so sad either

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  17. What a sad story.

    That said, I really dislike chatty people on public transportation!

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  18. Tragic yet beautiful.

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  19. Now I have to go grocery shopping with red eyes from crying....what a touching story.

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  20. Well shit. These kinds of emotions remind me that the only life worth living is a genuine one.

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  21. O.k., tears in my morning coffee. I am glad that he loved his wife, I am glad that he ask for the favor, and I am glad that you both obliged.

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  22. "asked", of course, but try talking into the speaker of your phone when your voice has gone all snotty from crying!

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  23. Well John you managed to do it this morning...Tears before my first cup of coffee... not fair! Hugs! deb

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  24. How sad. No other words.

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  25. John, you truly are a compassionate loving person. Anyone whose has been tended and nursed by you during their life or their death has been truly blessed. The nursing world has lost a gem.

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  26. OMG John.. I am bawling now.. I get the gesture.. I surely do...it is very ethereal... is that a word that couples itself with death.. I don't know. but in this week where I lost one of my cats in situation that I wouldn't want to retell...I am in bits anyway so this just sends me south ....
    Jo in Auckland. NZ

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  27. In the future, on a train with a chatty person, I hope you will be able to say... "you can read all kinds of stories in my new book!" I know I want to hear/read more of them!

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  28. I thought you were going to say you had to undo his flies or something.

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  29. Admiration for you. That behaviour and compassion is what being a nurse is about. I was a nurse 30 years ago. A very difficult thing to do but that man will always remember you for that act of kindness.

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  30. That has certainly made the tears flow.

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  31. I had a dream sort of like this last night. Of course you did it. How kind.

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  32. Man, no words.

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  33. Heavens! I'm glad that the request was limited to just lying in his wife's arms.

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  34. Oh, that's so dear. Thannk you.

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  35. brave and beautiful

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  36. Oh John.....the love.xx

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  37. Couldn't stop the tears after this story. Very sad and poignant.

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  38. Talk about choked up. The power of love.

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  39. This was very touching. And then there was Yorkshire Pudding's comment :)

    When I ask people questions to get the conversation going, I try to avoid the "worst times of your life" ones. And like Steve above, I don't like chatty people!

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  40. I must say John that I would have liked the opportunity for that too - but it is far too late now.

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  41. That was very moving but I must admit as many others will have done had to titter at some of the comments and brought a lighter side to death. God bless people like you John

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  42. My god, i am sobbing, reading that. i can't even see to write this. yes, that is beyond heartrending.

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  43. Dammit, you keep wrecking my mascara!!

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  44. Thank you and the very Scottish nurse. So much. And yes, I too am weeping.

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  45. Now you made me cry. But in a good way. Thank you for your big heart.

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  46. That was so very kind of you and the Scottish nurse. A bit of comfort for the poor man.

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  47. Oh geez, that made me cry.

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  48. Dammit, you keep wrecking my mascara!!


    เย็ดสาว

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  49. John you left an imprint on her as you do us. I can on imagine who she first told your story to? Maybe a daughter or a besty.😘

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  50. You seem to be in the right place so often....like a visiting and so needed angel. What a wonderful that husband was
    Goes to show..love moves us all. Glad you were there

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  51. Ohh John... that memory moved me to tears too. Having been married nearly 50 years and having strength together..with age that reality is far too close.

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  52. I read this at work on my phone just as it was published. I have thought about it many times since. It is a lovely and moving story.

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  53. That was some story...very touching. Thank you for sharing.

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  54. like a visiting and so needed angel. What a wonderful that husband was


    หีฟิต

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  55. That brought tears to my eyes. Now THAT is love.

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