One of my nursing friends was one of those people to whom THINGS happen! She could turn any crisis into a drama. She is the one who washed all the thermometers in hot water, fortunately the days had passed when nurses had to pay for broken thermometers, but she had a sticky time explaining it to our rather humourless Sister. Her next misadventure was when she was told to clean the dentures of some of the elderly patients and she collected them all together in a bowl! True, some of the patients said their teeth fitted much better after they had been cleaned, but it took her some time to pair them and reassign them to their (sometimes new 🙂 ) owners.

 Another salubrious job we had as junior nurses was collecting the metal sputum cups every morning, emptying them and washing them,ugh. We were supposed to examine the contents for abnormalities but Kate was even more squeamish than the rest of us and just tipped them down the bedpan washer between stomach heavings. One day she heard a suspiciously loud plop and found to her horror that she had just thrown a patient’s glass eye down into the Birmingham sewers. He had mistaken the sputum pot for a container for his glass eye, which he had removed for the night! I don’t remember how she coped with that one, but she survived to move to our second ward.

One day I was just about to go into the dining room when she caught up with me. She had her cloak carefully wrapped around her and was in a bit of a state as she gasped out, “You haven’t got time for lunch, we have to go out!” As nurses were constantly hungry this had to be desperate so I followed her to the Nurses Home. Once we were back in her room she showed me what she was clutching under her cloak. It was a rather soggy parcel which she unwrapped to display 3 very dead goldfish!

The ward Sister she was working was inordinately fond of the small aquarium which had been presented to her by a group of grateful patients. She had asked Kate to clean it for her and Kate had carefully filled a bowl with water and emptied the aquarium, put the fish into their temporary home, cleaned the aquarium, refilled  it and turned to the bowl for the fish to find them floating on the surface. She had inadvertantly filled it with hot water!

We spent our afternoon off touring the pet shops, where she regaled the owners with her sad story and holding up the dead fish while they tried to match them! We managed to get pretty near matches so on our return she was able to put in the replacements before Sister returned from her afternoon split shift (they had 1/2 hour longer than us.)  I don’t know whether Sister noticed but she never said anything, so once again Catastrophe Kate had got away with it!

PS. Kate finished her training, married an American and went on to have a distingished career as a Director of Nursing in New York!

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