This is going to be quite a long post but for those who love a good yarn and some history too I hope you like it -->
I have just unearthed this tattered photo, while I was looking for something else and … after much peering at the writing on it … I have discovered that this is dated 13-8-11, so I now know that my Nana was not in London long before she met and nursed Horace.
The titles of the personnel of the theatre, pictured here are …
House Surgeon, Cheeky Student and Assistant House Surgeon (Men Lt to Rt) Electrical Sister, Theatre Nurse and Theatre Sister (Ladies Lt to Rt)
Anyone got any ideas as to what an Electrical Nurse is ????
Here are my LO's and the story behind it all.-->
Euphemia Jane Ritchie … aka … Jean ...... b 1882 m1913 d1960
She got a place to train at Leith Hospital… not that it had the status of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary but she was happy to be a nurse. Her brothers were said to have some times teased her if they saw her in uniform … calling out “Here comes Phemey from the Royal” because of how she strode along … with an air of great importance.
When I was a child she would recount many scary stories about children swallowing knives and forks after the fairs had been to town … sword swallowers were a great attraction for the youngsters …maybe it was to stop me doing anything quite so silly. She would also tell me how hard it was …especially during her first year, when it felt that all she did was scrub floors and clean up awful messes. …maybe that was a warning to me not to follow in her footsteps.
She was an Acting Sister for sometime after being a Staff Nurse and applied for a permanent post in 1909. I also know that she worked in the Casualty Department and was a Theatre Sister too yet she gave it all up to become a private nurse in London only two years or so later.
(She is 2nd row down ....5th from the Rt)
I really do not know why she left but the only thing that might shed some light on it is a story Mum told me.
When Nana was a Theatre Sister, she had gained the respect of most of the Surgeons and one day she put it to the test.
A young boy came into theatre to have the amputation of his leg carried out … without anaesthetic. My Nana questioned the reason for this and was told that the anaesthetic would probably kill the child, as he had a weak heart. She knew you should never question a surgeon’s decision but she could not help herself and so continued. She pointed out that a death due to surgical shock would be more likely in this case and he would die in agony, rather than peacefully under anaesthetic. Apparently she also added that if he continued without anaesthetic …she and her nurses would leave the theatre. What ever the truth of that part was, we shall never know but apparently the operation continued …with anaesthetic …and the child survived the ordeal.
Maybe things were made difficult for her after that and that is why she left … or maybe she just wanted to experience life.
And for those who are gluttons for punishment and are still reading this…here is the …….
HISTORY of LEITH HOSPITAL
1788 … Edinburgh and Leith Humane Society was formed
1815 … Leith Dispensary was opened on Broad Wynd
1825 … They joined forces under the one name of Leith Dispensary
1837 … The first Casualty Hospital in the area, at Quality (now Maritime) Street was opened
1846 … A meeting was held which had the intention of bringing together the work of both the dispensary and the hospital.
1849 … The new Leith Hospital was finally built in Mill Lane. Gradually wings were added either side of King Street, including a Nurses Home.
1886 … It was finally agreed that women Medical Students could attend the hospital for clinical instruction.
1907 … The hospital was now able to serve as a General Hospital, for the use of Men Women and Children and included an Accident Unit.
1987 … The doors finally closed.