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Gangrene dressing

60 second histories
Live experience

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A description of a nurse's first experience of dressing a gangrene wound and the limited pain relief available

I was only a probationer nurse when I was called over to help the Sister to change the dressing on one of our patients suffering with gangrene. I was absolutely shaking at the knees and standing by the dressing trolley when the Sister told me to “Hold that stump. ” Well, the poor chap must have felt dreadful because I gripped his leg well above the knee, and as the solution of Eusol and Peroxide was poured over the stump the pus was pouring over my hands. It was then that I saw two stumps, two sisters, and well, I must have started to sway because I was carried away ignominiously to the fire escape. It was the only time I disgraced myself like that. It’s amazing what you get hardened to. But the pain the men suffer here is frightful and we have little to give them other than aspirin, which isn’t very strong or a morphine injection which they get if they’re really bad. But the morphine makes them unconscious, so it’s only given in extreme cases. Most of the time they just have to bear it. They’re so brave.
Eras: 
Medicine & Health
WW1
Topics: 
Medicine & health
Character: 
WW1 nurse
Key words: 
WW1, first world war, world war one, British, soldier, nurse, probationer, sister, dressing, gangrene, trolley, stump, eusol, peroxide, aspirin, morphine, injection