A young family of adventurers living by the sea

Monday, 14 May 2018

The Language of Kindness - Christie Watson Review

I am not a non-fiction type of reader. Memoirs and factual books tend to be tedious reads for me and I find that I get switched off. But this year I am pushing myself to try and read new things, expand my horizons and learn more through reading. I was invited to read and review The Language Of Kindness by Christie Watson recently and as you can guess, I was fairly apprehensive. Would I like it, would it be tricky? But with a topic that is fairly close to my heart, I wanted to read the story of nursing, of one woman's twenty year journey through the NHS. And I'm so glad I read it. 




Within the first chapter of the book you learn that Christie never wanted to become a nurse, for she had wild dreams of becoming a marine biologist, a travel agent or even an astronomer. For someone that had a phobia of blood, becoming a nurse was the last thing that anyone expected. But when she took her first tentative steps on the ladder of nursing, she kickstarted a career that would span two decades and take her through the highs and lows of a hospital floor.

With family and friends in the NHS (spanning from midwifery through to cancer support) I always listen to stories and love learning about what they do, but I think there's a level of understanding that anyone that hasn't been in the nursing sector can't appreciate. Reading this book seemed to open my eyes more and more to what they go through on a regular basis. From the celebrations of life to the sadness of illness and death. I went on an emotional rollercoaster with every story that Christie recounted in the book.

From mental health nursing to midwifery and A&E, each account that Christie tells is one with frank honesty with a no-holds barred eloquence. Whist it's uncomfortable to read at times, it's a painstaking reminder that life is fragile and things can change in the blink of an eye. I loved reading about her time on the children's wards, which were full of emotion but also happiness when children would walk away with a full life to lead.

She tells about a young patient of hers with cystic fibrosis who is waiting on a double lung and heart transplant, how the terror in his eyes at going through the surgery and his smiles once it was over as he wrote a thank you letter to his donors mother. The story of a young girl rushed in with sepsis and the hours that followed where no one, not even the doctors could predict what would happen. In times like these, it reminds you that whilst medicine is paramount in healing, sometimes it's just down to pot luck on what the outcome will be.

The main part of nursing is kindness, kindness towards patients and family. The simple act of empathy to reassure a patient when they are concerned or worried. To smile despite the fact that the simple task of cleaning a patient covered in bodily fluids would turn someones nose up, giving them the dignity that everyone deserves. The compassion of treating a patient with care and respect even after they have passed away, to allow the family time to grieve and spend time with the body. Just small acts of compassion form a language that nurses learn and pass down onto the next generation, just how they learnt from the ones above them.

Whilst the book may seem like it's solely for nurses, it's one that is more than just a tribute to those that put their lives to a career that is all about caring. It's an insight for everyone else that wants and needs to know about the diversity that a day in nursing can give. From looking after a patient, to counselling family and doing little things to help things run smoothly. It's a job that many of us will put their hands up and say they will never be able to do, but this book gives you another lever of appreciation of this profession that is severely under funded and stretched.

The Language Of Kindness was a book that I imagined being drained when I finished, when in reality all I wanted to do was to call up my mum and tell her how amazing she was at her job. How for years she dealt with the sadness of death and illness yet still managed to be a fantastic parent for me and my brother. It was a book that felt as alive as the corridors and wards of the hospital. The fast paced pages of A&E to the subdued paragraphs of the elderly care wards. It gave you a feeling of  stepping in the shoes of a nurse, and whilst I will never experience the steps Christie has, I feel like I'm a fraction closer to understanding nursing more.

From first being daunted by a book about nursing, I raced through the book and went on a rollercoaster that opened my eyes to a career that is wholly under appreciated. It gave me another level of compassion and understanding of the fragility of life, death and the work that goes into nursing. It gave me an insight into the frank problems in the NHS at the moment, the strain put on nurses and the true value of their work.

Thank you Christie Watson for creating a book that is poetic, harrowing and eye opening. One that left me in awe of nurses and one that everyone should read to understand the true language of kindness.



*Note: I was sent this book to review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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