Life really does go backwards at 40

Would you like an almond dearie

Back again to my days as a district nurse.

We had an old lady who had alzheimer’s and required assistance getting to bed. Every night we would pop in to put her to bed, she was such a lovely lady and every night before we left we would be offered an almond from the bowl by her bed. I always refused as I’m not a fan of almonds however the nurse assisting me always took one. This ritual went on for weeks until I was asked to cover for one of the day staff that was ill.

I arrived for my shift and checked down to see who was on my list and the lovely almond lady was to be my first visit.

I arrived at the almond ladies house and was greeted by her daughter who has just popped in with a few bits. I get almond lady up and dressed and settled in her front room whilst we chatted about her daughter and her grandchildren. As I was about to leave the usual offer of an almond was made, but wait no I was offered a sugared almond this time. I politely refuse and say I didn’t realise you liked sugared almonds, almond lady smiled sweetly and said I don’t dearie I just like the sugar, my daughter keeps buying them so I suck the sugar off and place the almonds in the bowl. The bowl being the same bowl that was by her bed.

In future when the almond lady asked if my colleague would like an almond she would politely accept and place the almond in her pocket to be thrown away later 🙂

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What’s in the Wellie then…….

When I was a teenager there were only two things I wanted to do when I left school,

1, Be a professional 3 day eventer, this was cut very short when at the age of 13 and despite my instructor having the patience of a saint it became apparent that I had the patience of a 2-year-old and was actually very rubbish at the dressage bit. I did try extremely hard to concentrate but found myself distracted by the slightest thing. I’m not really that good at doing the slow stuff so that idea went out the window.

2, Train to be a nurse, now before any of you fall off the chair laughing, yes I did say nurse. So once I left school I applied and was accepted and had the biggest hoot ever.

I loved nursing and when I qualified I was offered a job in A&E, oh yes believe me I could write a book about some of the things I have seen, great place to work. Some years later and due to a move I left A&E did some further training and was offered a job as a District Nurse in quite a rural location.

I worked what was called the twilight shift, I started at 8 had an auxiliary nurse to assist me and between us both we covered a large area. All visits were usually finished by 1.00am and I would be on call until 8 the next morning when the day shift took over.

Nurse Gladys had nothing on me 🙂

So on to the tale…

This one particular night I received a call from the local hospital asking if I would go out to see an old chap that had a sore foot. Now usually I wouldn’t get called out for these types of things but there had been a major road accident and there were no available ambulance crew to attend. I take down all the details and they add you will need to take a pair of wellies with you.

Half an hour later I’m dressed, bag packed with various items as you never know with a sore foot, so off I go, The address I’ve been given is that of a farm, now I have no sense of direction what so ever and this being before the days of satnav, regulation map books were issued, fine but I’m also rubbish at map reading. Now I sort of have an idea of where the farm is, I’m looking for a break in a field with a track, yep most bleeding fields have tracks of some form in them so yes I entered a few fields that night before I eventually find a track that leads to the farm, in my defence its the middle of the night and it is pitch black.

As I approach the farm-house I see a light on downstairs which fingers crossed means I’m heading for the right farm. I squelch to a stop, open the door and met by mud everywhere. Fortunately for me my wellies were on the passenger seat. Wellies on I squelch across the yard. I knock on the door, no answer but lots of barking so I open the door and I am met by a vast assortment of dogs, good job I like dogs. A voice from the corner cheerily shouted, what’s taken you so long I could have been dead by now. Sitting in the corner was a very old man who was best described as a cross between Compo and Victor Meldrew fully dressed and wearing wellies. I introduce myself and before I have finished my name grumpy farmer shouts, I’m not blind I can see you’re the district nurse. So I can only assume he is obviously not a happy farmer.

I am told to put the kettle on, district nursing is not just about injections, dressings, a thirst for tea and a good ear is a must. Kettle on I address the purpose of my visit.

I gently suggest that perhaps grumpy farmer may like me to take a look at his foot and I’m told there is another patient that he needs me to take a look at first. Now if I’m not mistaken the information I was given is that grumpy farmer lives alone and has no family so I am slightly confused by this request and ask, do you have someone staying with you. Grumpy farmer points towards the oven door, I’m not great with surprises and ask, whats in the oven. Grumpy farmer points again to the oven and adds don’t worry lass it wont bite you.  Now I’ve heard this one before and had many a peck from a ninja budgie. So there really isn’t much for it I’ll have to look in the oven or I’ll never get to inspect the sore foot. So apprehensively I open the door. I am greeted by a piglet, oh great now what. Grumpy farmer tells me the pig hasn’t been suckling and his mother has stopped feeding it so he brought it in to get warm. At this point I’m still confused as to my role in this problem, Grumpy farmer tells me to feed it. Now I’m no sow nor do I possess teats so I’m now faced with a dilemma, how the fek am I supposed to feed it. rummaging through my bag I find some large syringes, that’ll do, warm some milk and feed the piglet. Piglet fed and back in his box in the oven we have one slighty less grumpy farmer.

I have now been at grumpy farmers for over an hour and need to call the hospital to update that I’m still alive and havent been trampled by cows. Call made its time to address the sore foot, grumpy farmer really isn’t wanting to show me his foot as I am requested to make more tea and listen to his tales.

Time to bite the bullet, I tell grumpy farmer I need to take a look at his foot and hurrah he beckons me over. Grumpy farmer lifts his wellie clad leg and says to me, I think my foot has fallen off. At this moment in time I want to run for the hills but being a professional I can’t so I take his left wellie firmly in my hand and atempt to tease it off. Despite teasing this wellie doesn’t want to come off so I casually ask grumpy farmer, when did you last take your wellies off. Grumpy farmer thinks for what seems like ages and announces last year some time, oh the joys. The boot appears to be stuck so I announce I’ll have to cut it off, at this point what I should have done was called an ambulance and let A&E deal with the stuck wellie. Scissors in hand I attack the boot, grumpy farmer continues to grumble about the cost of wellies and I keep hacking away. Now I’m not sure at what point during hacking the most horrendous smell starts permeating from the boot and it does not smell like almonds, well not any almonds Ive smelt. With brute force the remains of the wellie comes off and oh my days goes through my head.

Grumpy farmer has gangrene, he clearly hasn’t been looking after himself and is probably diabetic. Not sure if anyone has ever been faced with gangrene or the smell, all I can say it’s quite horrific. At this point I realise there isn’t much I can do, he needs to go to hospital and have whats left of his toes amputated.

Call made to the ambulance service who assure me they will be with me as soon as they can. I set about trying to clean grumpy farmers foot as best as I can but I admit defeat and offer to make tea and explain to grumpy farmer he needs to go to hospital.

Now at some point during this grumpy farmer realises he has a slight problem, he has no relatives, help or friends to call on so I am instructed to grab a pen and paper to take notes.

Cows need to be moved from cattleshed to field.

Pigs need feeding.

Chickens need feeding.

Dogs need feeding.

Notes taken I tell grumpy farmer we need to pack a bag as he may be in hospital for a while. I am instructed where I can find everything and after climbing over things squeezing through gaps as this house is rather similar to those on the hoarder programes. We have a bag packed and we are ready for the off. The ambulance crew arrive and start getting grumpy farmer ready for the off.

Grumpy farmer is wrapped up and in a chair ready to go so I start clearing my things away and I’m stopped in my tracks when he announces the note Ive just written is for me and I will also have to look after the piglet. Ok so now what, my negotiation skills fail terribly as grumpy farmer insists that I must stay and feed the animals but agrees to me taking the piglet to the vets and asking them for assistance with the farm.

I wave grumpy farmer off and promise to pop in and see how he is getting on. Right now to find the phone and a phone book to call the vets. After much pleading the vet agrees to take the piglet but only when surgery opens at 8.00.  So here I am stuck in the middle of nowhere with an assortment of animals that require feeding and a sick piglet and its 5.00 am.

Yes the cows got let out, all the animals were fed and the piglet safety delivered to the vets after being towed out of the mud by the RAC. As for grumpy farmer, I visited him a few days later in hospital, unfortunately he lost most of his toes but he was pleased to see me. I popped into see him when he went home and was pleased to see that he had hired a couple to help with the farm and housework.  🙂

I gave up nursing 13 years ago when it became more about paperwork and performance stats and retrained. I miss nursing but have good memories and a few more tales to tell 😉