Friday, May 18, 2007

Mirth and Woe: Doctors and Nurses

Mirth and Woe: Doctors and Nurses

Bad nurse! BAD NURSE!Regulars readers will know by now that I come from a medical family. My father - Professor Scary - is well-known in the field of pathology and diseases of the bottom, while my mother was a nurse. They met, all too predictably at medical school in the early sixties, and if the Roman Toga Party and Rag Week photos are anything to go by, a fun time was had by all.

Naturally - and regular deliveries of the hideously-illustrated Lancet, British Medical Journal and Nursing Times through our door helped - I have done everything in my power to avoid following in their footsteps. I think I'm well out of it now, and one hideous day involving my testicles in August 2005 aside, I have managed to avoid attracting the attention of a white-coated man with a pointy knife.

A wise career move, indeed.

Alas, there was a time when my future career path as a layabout had not been mapped out, and I was what you might call Medical-curious.

Yes. I admit it. I went to school, and I played Doctors and Nurses.

Doctors and Nurses, with real, live girls playing the nurses. We were ten years old and should have known better, but the blazing sun of the summer of '76 had clearly done dreadful things to our developing brains, and sullied us into performing this degrading spectacle up the school field. Up the school field, in the bit of grass behind the swimming pool fence, next to the long jump pit, where the teachers couldn't see what we were up to.

Here, in fact, where the former Scary House is clearly visible.

The setup was simple. There were three groups of people. Firstly, there were the doctors, who were, in the main, the boys who started the game, and could number anything from two up to approximately twenty poorly-qualified medical practitioners. Secondly, there were nurses, who were any girls we could rope into the game. We were surprisingly good at recruiting nurses, relying on the future aspirations of the young ladies in our school, and also on the fact that they soon realised it was far better than being a patient.

Yes. The patients. These were anybody who trolled along far too late to be a doctor or a nurse. Or - and NHS managers take note - were judged too ugly to join the nursing professions. No-one wants to be treated by an ugly nurse. It could take years off your life, and is clearly the number one cause of premature death in the Health Service today. The patients tended to be younger kids, or smelly kids, kids we hated enough to turn into patients, or kids from the special class who were easily persuaded.

Easily persuaded, for example, to hold their breath until they passed out when told to do so by a 'Doctor'.

"Doctor, doctor," they would say on arrival at the Sandpit Surgery, "I'm not feeling very well."

"What seems to be the matter? Do you keep holding your breath until you pass out?"


"You do, don't you? DON'T YOU?"

And they did.

Luckily, there were any number of nurses available to drag them away by their feet to the 'recovery area', where they would eventually come round, stagger about for a bit, before running off to whatever game of football there happened to be going.

Or, they might just get it all horribly wrong and bowk rich, brown vomit all over Nurse Beverly and make her cry, in which case they were thrown out of the surgery and told never to return. Not until breaktime tomorrow, at least.

Not all off of our patients were fainters. We would take in any victim of schoolyard trauma, such as sports injuries, kids who fell off the climbing frame, wedgies, and, of course, Andy.

Andy got nosebleeds. Just the lightest of breezes against Andy's face would cause blood vessels to rupture and spout blood and snot everywhere. Every single item of his school uniform had bloodstains on it, and it was fortunate that our school tie was a bright red colour, which helped him immensely in the circumstances.

He took the Sandpit Surgery very seriously, and became our most regular customer. In fact, he found that holding his breath would actually make him pass out and and suffer a nosebleed, and we were thankful enough to have a genuine patient that could actually die if we didn't treat him soon enough.

Alas, Andy's enthusiasm as a patient was to be our undoing. He took it far, far too seriously, and arrived at the surgery one afternoon for his regular treatment.

"Ah! What appears to be the problem?"

"I've got a nosebleed."

"No you haven't."

It was true. He nose was, for once, mercifully free of blood.

"Yes I have."

And he was right, too. It must have been something to do with the fact that he had just clubbed himself in the face with a length of wood.

"You appear to have clubbed yourself in the face with a length of wood. I've got the very thing for that."

"So, will the nurse see me?" he said, spattering blood all over collected doctors, nurses and fleeing patients.

"Bowk" said Nurse Beverly, as a large gob of blood and bogey settled on her shoulder, "No." She then fled screaming, before being seen, ashen faced, emerging from the girls' toilet, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.

The bleeding wouldn't stop, and much of the surgery was soon a fetching shade of red. Andy was led to the real school nurse, where the beans were spilled, and we were told in no uncertain terms not to play doctors and nurses, ever again.

"I know", said Andy, "Let's play firemen! I've got matches an' everything…."

Edit: "Feh!", I say. "Feh!" Not funny enough for you, eh? Here's a Brucey Bonus then, you bunch of no-good ingrates. Feh!

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