The District Nurse telephones to tell me that she is self-isolating so the nursing team is even shorter on the Staff Front than usual. Would I be able, she asks, to re-dress Mr B’s big toe myself if she talks me
through the process? Well, you know me, always happy to oblige - besides I have watched all the nurses through many processes in the past so I like to think I have a smidgen of knowledge...
“And remember,” she concludes, having taken me step by step through the Dressing of the Big Toe, “don’t take any flim-flam from him...” I am enchanted - I think it may be the first time I have ever heard
anyone actually use that word in real life. Flim-flam means nonsense, bunkum, bosh - oh, my word (if you’ll excuse the pun) she knows Mr B so well.
my nursing duty with some trepidation, first struggling to haul the box containing all the various dressings from its regular home in the cupboard under the stairs. In case you are thinking this is a rather inconvenient place to keep such vital supplies, you
need to understand that it is about the only place in the entire house which hasn’t yet been discovered by the Rascally Trio. They would have a field day among the bandages if they ever discovered the hidden treasures under the stairs.
I do my revision by reading the entries in the yellow file in which the nurses record the detail of every visit. Each entry begins “consent gained.” I look at
Mr B, he looks back at me. How far do I have to go, I wonder, in order to “gain consent.” I tell him I have been asked to bathe and dress his big toe and is this okay with him? He looks at me in what appears to be silent horror - which I
decide to take as consent being as he hasn’t exactly said anything to the contrary.
As I gently remove the existing dressing, I remember the nurse’s
words and warn my patient against flim-flam. Unfortunately Mr B interprets this as a verdict on the state of his toe and immediately wants to know what action I plan to take to address the flim-flammery issue. I adopt my best Florence Nightingale voice (or
what I imagine that might be, not knowing any better, don’t you know?) and assure him I have everything under control. Here’s the thing - the more assured one sounds, the more the patient feels reassured. Unless the patient happens to be Mr B,
Why hasn’t a “proper nurse” come to tend to him? he wants to know. I do my very best to look offended. I am not keen to tell him that
it is all down to the Coronavirus because I am doing my best to stop him worrying too much about something over which we have so little control. “They obviously trust me,” I tell him airily - which does absolutely nothing to convince him. Nevertheless
he submits to my tender loving care, albeit with poor grace.
Have you ever tried to dress a big toe? It isn’t the easiest, let me tell you. It is fortunate
that Mr B isn’t in any position to carefully study my bandaging skills. “All done!” I tell him, hopefully.
I decide I should probably make
an entry in the yellow folder to record my actions though as there are only two lines left on the page I can’t go into the kind of detail which I feel my nursing skills warrant. I sign my name with a flourish in the column headed “signature”.
It’s the one thing I feel completely confident about...