Monday, 21 May 2012
Funny how memory works.
One minute at the ungodly hour of 7am I am trying to give a cockerel his daily antibiotic
The next I am standing like a loon with a small smile upon my face, remembering the antics of a lumpy, much loved eccentric Irish nurse I once worked with by the name of Eunice.
Eunice was a ward manager's dream of a nurse.
She was a middle aged grafter; a carthorse of a nurse who would slog her guts out for a shift and still retain her loud,innately naive and essentially good natured personality, a vital aspect of keeping morale up in a high stressed environment.
Possessing a broad North Irish accent that could cut bread, Eunice could, at times be, incredibly insensitive ( and loudly so!), but as she often "put her foot into things" without any maliciousness whatsoever, her faux pas were generally viewed with some affection.by staff and patients alike.
Three "Eunice" episodes come to mind.....
Well with a handful of squirming cockerel, they came into my mind this morning.
Once we had a bit of a gangster admitted several weeks after he was the victim of a drive by shooting He possessed a little bit of a "bad boy" reputation,especially when nurse/patient relationships where involved, a fact that resulted in the more nervous of the staff giving him a wider berth. Eunice either forgot or chose to disregard this fact and I remember seeing her cheerfully whistling her way up the ward corridor with a tray of tea things when she spied him sitting up in bed in his side room all buff and bare chested.
She looked at him for a moment and yelled
"och YOU'RE a fine figure of a man!"
The patient half smiled at the comment and Eunice continued
"Have you an extra nipple there? so you have?"
The patient looked down at his chest and frowned
"It's a bullet hole scar" he said rather testily
"Och it looks just like a nipple to me!" Eunice shouted cheerfully and went on her way!
You couldn't make it up!
Another time, I recall meeting up with an incredibly distraught family in the public cafe which was situated by the main entrance of the Spinal Unit.It was one of those unexpected meetings that had to be dealt with "then and there" and using all of my counselling skills and sensitivity I found myself on my knees holding a mother's hand as she almost hysterically vented her grief and anxieties.
Eunice came out of a nearby hospital shop weighted down with chocolate for the ward staff and bounded over.
Without a thought she pushed between me and the relative and slowly inserted a family sized MARS bar into my uniform pocket, where it poked up next to my pens and scissors!
"Excellent for stress" she bellowed before skipping off, leaving me and the relative ever slightly bemused!
But my overwhelmingly affectionate and sweetest memory of Eunice was from Lodge Moor Hospital, which was the first rehabilitation unit I worked with her . I had finished my morning shift early and was walking up the long, long pre war main corridor for home when I heard her shout "Hold onto yer drawers!!".
In the distance I spied one of the electric porters "buggies" coming towards me rather erratically ( you know the ones you see in 1960's movies towing the catering wagons) and as it got closer I noticed that Eunice was driving it. Four or five shopworn rehab nurses were perched precariously on the back of it, all of them waving quite gaily and as it shot past me , I heard Eunice yell
"we've all had a bad shift and couldn't be ARSED walking back from the diving room"
Open mouthed I then watched the buggy turn the wrong corner , and with a loud bang it careered into the WRVS tea bar, scattering old ladies and overturning tables as it did so.
You could run by the seat of your pants in the nhs then.....
You would be shot!