Urinals…(more adventures of an NHS student nurse)

I have already mentioned Simpson ward.  A male orthopaedic unit with perhaps 18 beds on either wall of an open ward.  Needless to say, young student nurses and (some) young male patients made for interesting shifts.

998.118.1glass urinal

the glass urinal…

It was an evening shift, perhaps 9:30pm… supper was done, all the visitors had left, and we were to prepare the patients for sleepytime!  Back in 1972, the routine on this ward was that at certain ‘key’ times of the day, the lower echelons of nurses (us) had to wheel around a metal trolley especially made so as to provide carriage of male urinals……….. glass urinals… about 20 of them!  I was happy to be working with Marion, a classmate of mine who was a lovely girl with a great sense of humour..  We were to go to each bedridden patient and ask if they wanted a urinal.  When we had finished giving out the glass receptacles, we were then to go back and collect the filled urinals and place them back into the trolley and go back to the sluice room from whence they came;

this looks like an old sluice room out of commision.  The Brook sluicetoom was in much better shape.  But this shows the basic elements: the sluice on the far wall where urinals and cleaned after discarding the contents into the toilet thingy and then hanging them clean on the wall...

this looks like an old discarded sluice room out of commission. The Brook Hospital sluices were in much better shape. But this shows the basic elements: the sluice on the far wall where urinals are cleaned after discarding the contents into the toilet thingy and then hanging them clean on the wall. then of course washing your hands in the sink..

of course we then had to empty and clean each bottle in the sluice and put them back.

trollyurinals    this is just a depiction... I couldn't find the a similar structure on google: but you get the idea  The actual trolley had metal holders and only 2 wheels and was more like the shape of an umbroller...(if that makes sense) It was unwieldy, unbalanced and heavy!


this is just a depiction… I couldn’t find the a similar structure on google: but you get the idea The actual trolley had metal holders and only 2 wheels and was more like the shape of an umbroller…(if that makes sense) It was unwieldy, unbalanced and heavy!

Marion and I had finally collected all the ‘used’ urinals and were wheeling the trolley out of the ward (it was a heavy son-of-a-gun), when somehow it got caught on an uneven part of the ward floor.  As we tried to negotiate the trolley, it seemed like slow motion when this heavy trolley tipped and went crashing to the floor, along with most of the ~ did I say they were glass~ urinals!!  A loud crashing sound, broken glass and urine all over the floor!!  There was a second of horrified silence and then most of the patients started to laugh loudly!!!

How embarrassing for Marion and I, as we got the broom, the mop, the bucket of cleaning solution, the bin, and started to clean up!!!  I think there were about 10 urinal casualties, and the staff nurse was not exactly laughing as she spoke about the mess and the loss of ‘equipment’!!

Well, those guys got a good dose of treatment that evening as they say ‘laughter is the best medicine’!!

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sink or swim NHS student nurses

Learning the hard way…

To illustrate the ‘sink or swim’ method of being a student nurse in a British hospital in 1972, here is the tale of the stoma. I don’t remember much about how we were assigned patients during the day and evening shifts or if we were given particular tasks in order to broaden our ward experiences?

.A staff nurse told me to change Mrs. X’s dressing.  I guess I might have tried to ascertain information about my patient’s chart or maybe not.  More likely I was directed to change a dressing on a patient I knew nothing about!   We already had been taught how to do a basic dressing in class. So I gathered up a disposable dressing tray and headed to her bed. She had an abdominal dressing, so I proceeded to take it off following aseptic technique.  To my utter shock, under the dressing was a dark pink fleshy bulge protruding out of her skin! I quickly told the patient that I had forgotten something and would be right back.; of course I covered her ‘wound’ with a couple of sterile swabs, before I left.  I had never seen anything like it and had no idea what had happened to her. I found the staff nurse and expressed my concerns. She looked at me as if I was a nincompoop and stated that Mrs. X had had a colostomy and that meant part of her bowel was exposed and that is what her ‘wound’ was!

4 weeks of classroom training had not prepared me for that!  I had never even heard of a colostomy!   Well, live and learn.