Friday, 27 January 2012


I was in hospital this week.
(You don’t even want to know. Let’s just stick with the plain, simple, ubiquitous hospital term: ‘procedure’.)

Actually, I was going to say, I was unlucky enough to be in hospital this week, but – you know what? I wasn’t unlucky. Something got checked out, ticked off and dealt with, instead of hanging in the balance, causing worry or causing problems. And everything was OK – so in fact, I was lucky.

Not having any nice pictures of hospitals, I thought you'd like a stormy, January sea

What wasn’t quite so lucky was having a general anaesthetic.
I don’t know about you, but I must knock out so easy! They could practically save themselves the drugs, spare me the dreaded cannula and use a rubber mallet instead.
I never wake up!
Last year, when I had to go in for an operation (or are they just ‘procedures’ as well?) they had to keep me for an extra day because I couldn’t be trusted on my own two feet for so long afterwards. Sad really. Obviously nothing between the ears to soak up all those chemicals.

Maybe I didn’t smoke enough dope at college to harden the old head up a bit.
That’s probably it. I never took to that slightly dizzy, out-of-control feeling.
I never enjoyed sliding down the passage in my socks when I was a kid, either.
(Someone once told me that’s what water-skiing is like, so I never tried it.)

Still no hospitals, but lots of sea...

Anyway – as always I digress.

So I spent a blurry afternoon on the Day Ward in Sligo Hospital, pondering the really profound issues of life – like why the curtains round my bed had turned pink, when I could have sworn they started out blue.
It’s a great way to focus your mind, anaesthetic.
I wonder if that’s how Edward de Bono started? (Although technically, curtains are more perpendicular than lateral.)

The thing that really struck me, lying there, shivering and helpless, was just how nice nurses are, and how lucky we are to have them, pretty well on tap, all the way through our lives.

Let’s face it, most of us look upon our first nurse within moments of being born, and many of us look upon them as we die, and by and large, they’re taking up the slack on our behalf regularly in between as well.
I know it is a job of work, for which they are paid (if you call shirt-buttons pay, that is) but truly, how many of you would readily deal with someone else’s blood, guts, phlegm, vomit, urine and faeces, not to mention body odours?
Well, OK, every parent – or at least, every mother.
And a good few wives. (Or should that be a few, good wives?)
Fair comment, anyway.
But there is a certain amount of having signed-on-the-bottom-line on that.

How many of us would do it, not just as a one-off ‘here’s my ticket to heaven!’ – but every day.
And smile.
And say encouraging things.

I don’t think I’d last too long.
(And next time some pompous politician is deciding whether or not nurses deserve a pay-rise, maybe they should think of all that blood and guts, that piss and shit, that sick and snot, and debate how much they would need to be paid to deal with it, every day.)
It’s not even as if the average sick person is looking their best or giving anything in return.

Not nightingales, but seagulls

 Dread to think what I was looking like. Puffy-faced and bleary-eyed.

There were four or five nurses on the ward the other day, and they were all bloody marvellous (which is a household expression here, and must be uttered in suitably rallying accents.) They really helped me feel better – by smiling a lot for starters, and by stuffing some weird vacuum cleaner-type-hose-thing under the blankets to pump glorious hot air at me when I couldn’t stop shivering, by soothing, and helping me stagger out of bed, by bringing tea and toast and saying things like 'take your time' - right down to insisting that I be taken to my waiting car in a wheel chair when, eventually, I went home.

I believe only the nurses who are trained at St Thomas’s Hospital in London are entitled to be called Nightingales. The name comes, of course, from Florence Nightingale, who started the first ever secular school of nursing there. I shared a house with two Tommy's girls when I was at uni, and they wore starched white caps and were perfect role-models for all nurses everywhere.
Apart from them, the only other nightingales I know are the small brown birds that you’d never really notice until, under cover of darkness, when no one is looking, they start to sing.
And then they give it everything, and their gift transforms the darkness.

I think all nurses deserve to be called nightingales.

And I think we should all stop now and again, just to appreciate them.

At last, a nightingale.                    Photo borrowed from Chris Thomas, British Bird Photography 

Thank you, dear Readers, for so many lovely comments left recently. And thank you very much for the Candle Lighter Blog Award! I am very touched to receive it.



I still haven't sorted out my blog problems, so if you have technical wizardry at your fingertips, I'd love to hear from you!


  1. Fabulous reading. I am so glad you commented on my blog as I should never have found you otherwise. I prefer pix of the sea to pictures of hospitals.

  2. I have been in the hospital with my mother for the last eleven days and I could not agree more with your thoughts on these nurses. Bless them.

  3. I tend to be the opposite, takes a lot to get me under, I even came close to waking once during a procedure. I hope this will post, and I did get your comments finally, I guess my blog didn't recognise you for some reason.

  4. And I meant to add - beautiful photos! And what a capture on the nightingale, incredible!

  5. Thank you all for your comments. I really appreciate them, and you taking the time to leave them. Come back soon!

  6. Hope you are on the mend. Well said about nurses and being there at the beginning and end. Thank goodness for nurses and thank goodness people actually want to take that on as a career.
    lots of love from Canada


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