Livewire - August 15, 2012

Retired Carleton teacher Pauline Nicholls
Retired Carleton teacher Pauline Nicholls
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By Pauline Nicholls of Carleton

The voices were thin and reedy.

Four ladies singing Happy Birthday to their friend Hilary who was going home after her operation.

It was a great birthday present.

And such an unusual sound in the magnificent Victoria Hospital.

The word care is used a lot about hospitals, but at the Vic it’s just that.

Care. Promises of care are kept from the cleaners – onwards and upwards.

Respect also springs to mind.

And tolerance too.

During my recent stay I was tempted to tell anyone who would listen about my tonsillectomy in the 1930s. How boring, especially when accompanied by a graphic description of the administration of the anaesthetic.

“We have come a long way since,” said the anaesthetist, sagely.

I must have told everyone in the hospital that story... not that they told me that, of course.

Instead every doctor and nurse treated me politely, in spite of the prattle.

“I’m just going to take some blood. You will feel a scratch. Job done.”

“You must drink more,” was a continual plea.“Try and eat your soup.” The food was good but never appreciated at the time.

Tea was always on hand, but not always drunk.

But, after the birthday singing, I said to the nurse “What, no cake?” And of course there was.

It was brought to the ward from the hospital kitchen and looked delicious. Suddenly I found my appetite coming back.

Can we all have a piece?

“Only if you eat your soup at lunchtime perhaps,” said the nurse. I had come to consider her my best friend. Rather like a mother admonishing her child.

However, it did the trick. The soup was eaten and the cake tasted as good as it looked.

There was always plenty of laughs and never once did the word ageism cross our minds.

Not a sign of it.

There were hugs and kisses all round on leaving. Along with my thanks to the staff who patiently came for me every day to tell my son was on the phone for me.

I think we should drink a toast to our beautiful hospital. Our lovely Victoria Hospital. In tea, of course. And long may this Victoria reign.

And, by the way, did I ever tell you about my tonsil operation back in the 1930s? Oops. Sorry!

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