'Never had I seen so many fleas! Startled by the daylight, they leapt in all directions, particularly mine. Quickly I peeled off her stockings and threw them on the fire, but by now the fleas had invaded her combinations. As for the fur coat, I shuddered to think ...'
Training in a hospital in the 1930s, Edith Cotterill's long hours on the wards included encouraging leeches to attach to patients (a task much harder than you might think) and the disposal in the furnace of amputated limbs. Although hospital life did have its compensations -- it was there during the Second World War an injured sailor who became her husband.
After the birth of their two daughters, Edith returned to work in the 1950s as a district nurse. Whether she was ridding ageing spinsters of fleas or dishing out penicillin and enemas, Edith approached even the most wayward of patients with humour, compassion and warmth.
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