Letter from a Nurse in France
Nursing Sister Mabel Joice, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jos. Joice, Eddystone, and an honor graduate of the Western Hospital. Toronto, writes to her cousin here, Miss Pearl Cornelius, from a military hospital in France as follows:
October 30th, 1916.
You will think that I am never going to answer your letter, but when you get this you will know different. 1 intended writing long ago, but oh, this awful habit of deferring until to-morrow.
You will see by my address that 1 have moved to another part of the country. This hospital is about three hours journey from Paris, in a very quaint old village. It is not a large hospital, we only have about three hundred beds, but the work is much better than we had at Bordeau, being so much nearer the firing line. We do not keep the patients here very long. We get them quite directly from the front and when they are able to be moved, they are sent on to another hospital. Just now we are rather slack again, but for the past two weeks have been awful busy. You can imagine somewhat the nature of the work when we were doing pansements (surgical dressings) from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. and just taking a short lunch hour. There is a very good system here for doing dressings. On each floor there is a 'Salle de Pansement' which is a dressing room and to this room the patients are all brought in turn for their dressings. While we dress their wounds, the orderlies make their beds up fresh, which means that each day the patients have mattresses turned and a fresh bed, which insures a good day's rest, and one gets the dressing done much quicker this way than if we had to take our dressing chariots around the salle. One day one girl and myself dressed sixty six patients, and there is hardly a man who has only one wound. The majority of them have two and some have five and six. They are splendid patients and bear their sufferings bravely, always manifesting a cheerful spirit.
Just now I am on night duty, have been on for a week. The nights are getting quite cool and we have a nice fire in the fireplace. I had three weeks holidays and have just been back on duty three weeks. I did so thoroughly enjoy it for I was up at a Canadian Hospital in the north. I knew a number of the nurses and doctors there and the whole camp did their best to give me a good time. They even tried to make quite a heroine of me because I had been all together with foreign people for so long. You do not know how I enjoyed being with Canadians again. There were two Canadian and two English hospitals there, and it is a pretty seaside place. I spent several days in Paris, en route, both going and coming back, and did a lot of sight seeing in and around that city. I have a number of friends in the American Ambulance hospital, so had a splendid time. Paris is a perfectly lovely city and is not difficult to travel in. It is just as pretty as it is written and spoke of. Needless to say, I felt extremely lonely coming back to the quiet village where it is a case of 'Parlez-vous francais' or say nothing, and the one is about as difficult as the other for me, but war time is not the time to think of being lonely so I will have to dismiss it from my mind.
There is always something happening, even in our busiest days, to make us laugh, that is, if anyone has any sense of humor whatever, One of the sisters who had been in France but a short time and was struggling with the language like the most of us have to do, in an attempt to consol a patient who was unduly concerned about his condition, said to him, 'don't worry you will be dead tomorrow,' Of course, she was quite sure she was saying, 'Don't worry, you will be better to-morrow.' The words better and die are not un-like, but she pronounced her word wrong. She greeted him with the same words three different days in succession and could not understand his agitated attitude after her message of cheer. However, after the third offence, the mystery was explained but furnished a good joke for everyone. I am getting sleepy and as it is 4:00 a.m., I think I must close and work off this drowsiness. It is hard to sleep during the day. Kindest remembrances to all.
M.M. JOICE, Hospital No. 4l, Millitaire, Lisieux Calvados, France.