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What a Life

Nursing

Wash your hands

Ignaz Semmelweis 

On May 15th 1850, Dr Semmelweis stood on the stage at the Vienna Medical Society’s explaining his great discovery. He is regarded as the pioneer of antisepsis. Often regarded as the “saviour of mother”, he advised his surgical colleagues that death by simply washing their hands could be significantly reduced. Ironically, he died of infection himself.

Florence Nightingale heard about the findings of Semmelweis and adopted his philosophy with great success. Meanwhile, the arrogant surgeons ignored his findings and continued to operate during the Crimean war in their usual way. Arms up to their elbows in turds dressed in their leather aprons. Chopping off limbs. Deal with head injuries. The mortality rates were hideously high. A simple measure may have made a difference.

”Wash your hands” is not a new phrase. It seems to have been reinvented by someone out there for their moment of glory. No amount of glory can be achieved if a surgeon exits a toilet without washing his hands and heads off to the staff restroom for his cuppa. His filth is passed onto others in the coffee room. Rarely would they wash their cups but just throw them into the sink. That was an orthopaedic surgeon. They are so obsessed with infection insisting on ineffectual masks and endless other measures. None are effective unless the basics are adhered to.

Changing the subject momentarily, another great British nurse was Edith Cavell. Edith Cavell was recognized by Dr Antoine DePage. The two of followed in the footsteps of further moderation of medicine and nursing following Florence Nightingale. Cavell helped establish L’infirmiere describing modern methods of nursing. When WWI came upon the world, she told nurses that all casualties would be treated equally irrespective of nationality. They were working in a Red Cross Hospital.

Cavell not only ensured that all casualties were treated equally and fairly, she also helped allied soldiers escape.

I can’t stop while there are lives to be saved.

Edith Cavell

She was betrayed by a Belgian traitor. After a short period in prison, she was assented by a German firing squad.

There remain many memorials around the world to respect her contribution to nursing. A hospital was built in her memory in Northampton, Great Britain. Shamefully when the new hospital was built the name was changed.

The night before her death, she is remembered for these words;

Standing, as I don view of God and eternity,

I realize patriotism is not enough.

I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.

Edith Cavell

Of course there have been brilliant nurses and doctors too throughout history. That would be the subject of a different tome altogether. 

As a young man I recollect splitting my sides watching the slap and tickle of Carry On Doctor and Doctor on the Go. That was comedy.Affairs and lust between both sexes has existed ad infinitum.

The stockings and suspenders culture has all but gone. So have the Barbara Windsor giggles and expressions as, “Naughty doctor”. As indeed has the Kenneth Williams, “Ooerr matron”. No chance of getting a quick sneaky pesky these days, the uniforms are awful. If lucky, might be a chance of a stare at a camel toe. It is always obvious which of one of the males want to be stared at, they can barely squeeze into their theatre blues. The same applies to the female species. 

Having graduated in 1988, I found myself horrified to learn of the slap and tickle, gross sexism culture existing in real life. The gross flirtation was a two way street. Bum pinching by male medical staff was not unusual. A gentle stroke of a bloke’s nuts by a woman happened too. It was just less frequent. In the of some dirty old men, a sharp slap across the face might have been better. If not that, a kick or a very tight squeeze of the cojones might have appropriate!

Even the uglies from both genders got into the act. Cupboards were available. If not them then. there the onsite on-call rooms. Medical praise were often wild. Chances of a leg over with some intoxicated woman were good. Of course there were gold diggers thereto. Anything that could go, went!

For the oldies, they had their offices and couch for a quickie. Divorce was not infrequent. I guess, it probably remains significant today. One major change, if someone crosses the line as time has passed and a complaint is lodged, that would be career over unlike the past.

Affairs continue unabated. At least they are consensual.

 

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