Wright's Aerials

The Annexe of Irrelevancies

The Nurses

There’s far more going on in the mind of the average dog than we realise. Take Springer Spaniels, for instance. Many Springers find their role rather unfulfilling. Chasing balls, barking at the postman — well, it’s not much of a challenge for an intelligent dog, so unsurprisingly many Springers have developed a bit of a fantasy world inside their own heads. They’re affectionate dogs, compassionate even, so quite a few of them pretend that they have a career in one of the caring professions. The dog that you might think is snoozing in front of the television is in all probability taking a keen interest in ‘Casualty’, feasting on a drama that provides rich material for her own world of fantasy.

Thus it was that Staff Nurse Lola and Trainee Apprentice Under-Nurse Bella intertwined the events of the real world with their television-inspired fantasy, and found themselves working in Intensive Care.

The patient was, in his own opinion at least, gravely ill. In years gone by he had been a fit man, a magnificent specimen in fact, but now time and a killer variant of the dreaded man-flu virus had taken their toll. He lay in a pool of self-pity and sweat, groaning in a rather theatrical manner, and — such was the depth of his dementia — peppering his lamentations with short Anglo-Saxon words. Then, just as he seemed to be going downhill fast, the nice lady doctor was called away on an emergency visit to Morrison’s. Two of the hospital’s best nurses were instructed to look after the patient in the meantime. (Cue dramatic but heart-warming music.) 

In the gloom of the Intensive Care Living Room, the two plucky nurses cocked their heads on one side and regarded their patient, who seemed at last to be getting some rest. The moaning and Anglo-Saxon had abated, and had been replaced with irregular snoring and the occasional sneeze.
“We must do all we can” whispered Staff Nurse Lola.
“But we were told that we should merely watch over him!” replied Trainee Apprentice Under-Nurse Bella apprehensively.

“Pshaw!” exclaimed Lola. “I am a skilled nurse, am I not? You will help me, and learn from our actions!”

A little later the treatment begun.

“Firstly,” said Lola, “We will attend to his psychological wellbeing. Patients of this kind often wake up briefly and think of important items that they have forgotten to include in their paperwork. These thoughts agitate them, and prevent them getting the rest they need.” With that Staff Nurse Lola held the patient’s left hand between her paws and washed the back of it very thoroughly.
“You have blue ink on your tongue!” said Bella.

“It’s worth it,” said Lola. “You see, all traces of the worrying thoughts have gone.” Just to make sure the problem didn’t arise again Bella chewed the pen up, and buried the inky bits in the easy chair.

“We need to stimulate his reflexes,” said Lola. Both nurses fetched a squeaky toy from the toy box. Lola got the squeaky bear and Bella got the squeaky Christmas cracker. Bella squeaked her toy once, tentatively. There was no response from the patient. The nurses started to squeak the toys in turn, gently at first but then with increasing tempo and volume, all the time keeping a weather eye on the patient.

“Sometimes this treatment causes the patient to become violent,” whispered Lola. In fact, the reaction was disappointing. There were a few groans and the head disappeared under the duvet. The treatment was paused, and Lola said, “Closer. We need to get closer. But first I’ll uncover his head.” She stood below the patient’s feet, hanging as they were over the end of the settee, and cautiously tugged at the overhanging duvet. As it moved down from his head the patient made a clumsy attempt to grab it, but failed. He growled ominously but made no further attempt to regain his cover, even though the pulling had been a little over-enthusiastic and most of the duvet was now on the floor. At this point Bella, who was not famed for her subtlety, held the squeaky Christmas cracker right next to the patient’s ear, and gave it the hardest squeeze she could muster. The patient’s whole body convulsed violently as if he had received a severe electric shock, then there was a groan, a curse, and a further unsuccessful attempt to regain the duvet. Then the patient slept, fitfully.

“He doesnt need to be covered up anyway,” whispered the Staff Nurse. “Look at his fevered brow!”

“Let’s refresh him!” suggested the Trainee Apprentice Under-Nurse. Luckily the patient had turned onto his back, so it was relatively straightforward for Lola to hold him down by placing her portly self on his chest. With one paw on each of his collarbones she was ideally places to wash his face, and she did it with great thoroughness and care, leaving no crease or furrow unexplored. Bella did the ears, using her remarkable tongue to great advantage. The patient seemed to have decided that resistance was useless, for he simply lay still and rigid, his eyes and mouth tightly closed.
The nurses retired to their station to consider what further treatment would be appropriate.

 “His throat is dry!” declared Lola. “You must lubricate it.”

Bella approached the sleeping patient stealthily. She had a very long tongue, and an unusual way of using it. It was, in fact, her party piece, always getting a strong reaction, especially from the recipient. For a moment she peered lovingly into the patient’s face, then with one sudden movement she thrust her tongue deep into his mouth, giving his tonsils a generous coating of her own saliva. The patient coughed and spluttered, and there was a brief outburst of the Anglo-Saxon. Then he subsided. Lola scrutinised him. After a while he was fast asleep again.

“Do it again!” she commanded.

“Are you sure?”

This time the reaction was far more definite, and the nurses felt it wise to retreat to the anteroom for a little while, and hide under the dining table.

“You see, he is much stronger already!” said Lola triumphantly, as a boot flew past her head. Now we will try the shock treatment!” The two nurses sat very quietly until the moment was right. When the patient was sleeping soundly Lola made a signal and both nurses burst without warning into a staggering cacophony, raising a desperate alarm as if the hospital was about to be invaded by a large group of burglars (which of course it wasn’t). Nurse Bella also ran up and down the length of the patient’s prone body about six times. The effect of all this was almost immediate. The patient groaned piteously, pulled a pillow over his head, and attempted to protect the more vulnerable parts of his torso with his free hand. He cried out to God Almighty, and I’m sorry to say he then, in the same breath almost, came out with the most fluent and profane Anglo-Saxon yet. “You see,” said Lola, “he is so much better! He almost sat up then!”

“Yes,” agreed Bella, “and his speech is improving as well. His vocabulary seems to be growing.”

The patient subsided into sleep once again, muttering and grumbling.

“Finally” declared Lola, “We must try the Heimlich Manoeuvre.”

“That’s for when the patient’s choking, isn’t it?” queried Bella.

“Well, strictly speaking, yes,” admitted Lola. “But I reckon it works for anything. It’s good fun anyway.”

The patient had unguardedly rolled onto his back again. To prevent any sudden movement Bella sat on his abdomen, inadvertently introducing several feet and elbows into his genital area. Surprisingly this brought forth only a mumbled protest. Lola ascended the settee arm and then climbed up onto the headrest, where she looked down with great fondness at the patient for a little while. Then she leapt down onto his chest, her considerable bulk being easily enough to drive all the air from his lungs. There was an ominous silence. The two nurses retreated again to the anteroom. For a moment Bella wondered if they had killed their patient, but then the second boot thudded reassuringly into wall just behind them.

The doctor came back from Morrison’s, carrying a box of bottle-conditioned Belgian medicine.  “How is he?” she asked anxiously.

“He seems to be making a slight recovery,” said Staff Nurse Lola. She winked at Trainee Apprentice Under-Nurse Bella, and whispered, “Thanks to us!”

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