A nurse’s story

As a student nurse, Christie Watson was asked to give blood during an occupational health screening, in case of a needle-stick injury. After the phlebotomist tied a tourniquet around her arm, Christie soon found herself lying on the floor, with her legs up on the chair.

“You fainted dear,” said the phlebotomist. “Happens. Thought you might want to rethink your career.”

In the end, Watson enjoyed working for two decades in nursing, moving from mental health and paediatrics to neonatal, A&E and the intensive care unit. Amid it all, her queasiness around blood never left her.

“I find it really difficult to watch blood or gory scenes on TV, but if there’s a real life patient in front of you and suffering, your own concerns go out the window, bizarrely,” she says.

And in 21 years, Watson has seen suffering galore, but all prongs of humanity, too: compassion, hope, tenderness. She has laid bare her experiences in the startling memoir, The Language Of Kindness: A Nurse’s Story. It’s a highly emotional and eloquent retelling of different patients, staffers, experiences and departments, moving from Watson’s first shocking moments on the wards to eventual compassion fatigue.

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