Thursday, 21 October 2021

Sheffield’s Manor

 

When I was a student nurse I had a placement with the district nurses in The Manor which was the well recognised roughest part of Sheffield .
The nurse I accompanied , was a no nonsense city woman. She drove a second hand car, called a spade a fucking spade and swore at joyriders in the street with a broad Sheffield accent 
She also told me not to look so  fucking gormless on our many visits 
Keep your wits about you she warned you look soft
I must have looked geeky….and painfully bookish
But I found her funny and  warm and big boned and I so wanted to please her, so we got on
Like a boy does with his favourite teacher.

I remember accompanying her to visit a man in the top of a block of flats who had terminal cancer. 
The man’s elderly and frail wife greeted us at the door with the comment “ Hes been a bit quiet all morning love” and I didn’t really notice my colleague quietly donning gloves and looping her stethoscope around her neck

The patient had bled to death in bed
He had bled from his mouth from a cancer of the oesophagus and unseen by his wife the blood had pooled inside his bedclothes and bed frame . 
My mentor passed me gloves and an apron silently  and asked the wife to make us a cup of tea.
My eyes grew to the size of saucers…the blood soaked the carpet black , like a pond in winter.

This was my very first traumatic death and I went on automatic pilot 

But I learned so very much that awful day
I learned to be calm in a crisis 
I learned how to break bad news with sensitivity and honesty 
I learned how to spare people’s feelings with information they didn’t need and
I learned how important it was to cry in the car afterwards and be hugged by a co worker who knew more and better than I did.

Her name was Janet and she was a district nurse in Sheffield many moons ago now
And she died last week of cancer at home , with her family and friends and a dog called Daisy around her




46 comments:

  1. So many career and life skills passed on by an outstanding nurse and wonderful human.

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  2. She would be touched that you remember her so fondly. She helped shaped the man and nurse that you have become. I'm glad she had family with her at the end. xx

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    1. We were never friends
      But I loved her because she taught me so much

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  3. That is so beautiful-and perhaps Janet may live in some way alongside you occasionally x

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  4. She would be very happy to know how much she helped you, and amused to hear your warts and all description of her down to earth personality. She sounds like the very best kind of nurse to work in the community.

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  5. I note the bit about sparing people information they don't need. So true in so many things.

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    1. Yes. A helpful reminder. -Kate

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    2. Siebrie8:42 am

      My parents have 5 types of cancer between them, and they told the doctors: 'just do your research and tell us what it is in the end. Don't keep us up to date on what it isn't and what you are now looking for. We don't need that information to worry about.' Mum was first diagnosed 10 years ago, they both have had treatments and are have regular check-ups and daily medication; they have a full life, very social, out and about all the time, taking their rest wherever they can. They are 80 and 85 now.

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  6. Dear, dear John. I wonder how much of that empathy and wisdom you have passed on in your turn.

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  7. You can't beat learning on the job, being the apprentice, humble and grateful and not greedy to walk before you can run. Not enough of it these says.

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  8. Yorkshire Liz10:43 pm

    And so life turns. Her blessing was to be your mentor and pass on the most intangible and most treasured nursing skills. And for you to record her humanity and compassion with your own.No small thing.

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  9. May I too leave tiny ripples that go unnoticed by most but go just the same.

    To the next great adventure Janet!

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  10. Having a strong mentor on the job is tremendous. The skills learned and memories of the experiences stay with you for a lifetime. RIP Janet, you are remembered here.

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  11. Oh, John. You have honored Janet here and more importantly, in how you do your job. Nursing is a profession that those who are not part of it, will never understand. It is god's work and I say that, not believing in a god.

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  12. She sounds like a very practical and down to earth nurse. Just the type of person you need as a mentor. RIP Janet. That circumstance is the reason I could never be a nurse.

    Jo in Auckland

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  13. John, this is a lovely tribute. Thank you for noticing her passing.

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  14. Anonymous1:28 am

    I sure she was loved by the folks in Sheffield too. All we can ask for on this is earth is to be kind and not forgotten. She was a good one and not forgotten!

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  15. Barbara Anne1:46 am

    What a wonderful story about an amazing nurse in an awful situation with you. How insightful to ask the wife of the deceased to make tea while you and she cleaned the patient and surroundings as much as possible. No doubt you've made her new star twinkle brightly with this loving remembrance and the lessons learned.
    The layout of Sheffield is very interesting. Is your former home in the photo?

    Hugs!

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  16. Lighting a little candle for Janet and her loved ones tonight. Thank you for sharing this touching story.

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  17. Aamazing story John. Thank you for sharing her humanity and no nonsense approach to life...and death. X

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  18. Thank you for that. There are so many untold stories of amazing people in this world.

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  19. People such as me are so protected from the realities of life, and death. Thank goodness for people such as you! This is why I have such admiration for nurses.

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  20. You are a man of merit.

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  21. Glad you were able to learn beside such a capable and kind nurse. I agree with Rachel that apprenticeships where you can learn in real time by watching and being with someone like this are absolutely invaluable. No amount of book learning can replace it.
    Thanks for sharing this.

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  22. I wish I were the kind of person who knew how to act in a given situation. Much admiration to Janet and this story.

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  23. One of your very best blogposts John. Authentic and movingly written. I hope that Janet felt no pain as she drifted away.

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  24. What a lovely tribute a live well lived John how lucky to learn from one of the best, I think Janet probably touched many lives may she rest in peace.

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  25. You had the best teacher out.
    Sheffield is a hard but caring place

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  26. Thank goodness for tough old boots like her! I'm a complete wuss when it comes to illness, so hats off to you all!

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  27. You were so fortunate to have a teacher and role model like that.

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  28. That's a poignant story John. You learnt on the job - as we did back then. It's stood you in good stead It's a hard job as a district nurse. I liked it because it gave me more autonomy than ward based work and you had to have your wits about you - so many different situations - leg ulcer dressings as standard fare, manual evacuations that wouldn't be allowed now, care of the dying in their own home, maintaining syringe drivers, lifting small old ladies who'd been stuck down the loo before you arrived ...people in poverty who were so grateful for help and wealthier people who sometimes were not...I had a rural patch and drove around in an old Renault 4, a bit different from a city beat, but care is care. I sometimes regret leaving that no nonsense job to enter public health and university work. Hey ho. Yes, funny how one remembers certain good nurse 'mentors' and the impact they have. Janet clearly left a legacy with you.

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  29. I admire the calm under pressure approach.

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  30. The experiences that change a person and stick with them. Good that she was able to go at home, surrounded by loved ones.

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  31. If only there were more like her on this earth. Lovely story. RIP

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  32. Wow, that's a helluva story. May your nursing coworker rest in peace.

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  33. Lynn Marie1:42 pm

    Thank you, John, for this.

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  34. You have honored her with this post. Thanks for sharing your memories of her. Well done!

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  35. "I learned how to be calm in a crisis." That is the trait I love most about those in the medical profession. That "calm" is what we stricken onlookers feed on.

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  36. She would be happy to know she made such a difference in your life.

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  37. A lovely story John and a fitting tribute to your former mentor.

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  38. Thank you all for your comments xx I’m tired after two long day shifts x

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  39. She was a good mentor and a kind human being.

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  40. Worked in many nurseries on the Manor.
    Full of great people.

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  41. And now you honor her . Sharing YOUR wisdom with others, she has taught you well. It is, I guess , now your turn to pass on all the many "tricks of the trade" that you have also learned in your career. Those around you, as those around her , are the better for having known you.
    This comment is about your Janet.

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