The joy of primary research

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Immersive afternoon reading medical sheets #WW1 #GreatWar @nationalarchivesuk My box full of abdominal wounds (I’m going back next week to look at shells hock neurosis and septic). Each sheet a story – not only of the wounded man, but the people who cared for him. Doctors’ handwriting better back then, but the language hasn’t changed. “Had a bad night. Stump painful.” “Good progress.” “Would Mr X kindly take an X-Ray?” (Some patients were quaintly “enfeebled” – but what a great word!) The detail of the injury: “GSW sustained July 12 whilst inspecting barbed wire near Ypres. Pt crouching, facing the enemy”. Details matter – not just because that’s how the soldier would tell and retell his story – but because posture dictates the path the bullet took through the body; crucial information for a surgeon. Lots of pus and discharge, lots of fistula and sinuses, lots of smelly, chronic wounds foreshadowing years of sub-optimal health and personal misery. Some of the sheets had observations charts (“TPR” – no blood pressures); neat and careful, the conscientious contribution of the VAD nurse. And, in amongst the sheets, a forgotten scrap of paper on which some long-forgotten nurse noted the results of a urine test: “urine clear, normal colour, albumen nil, blood nil”. It could have been written by any nurse or midwife today. #amwriting #amwritinghistoricalfiction #amresearchingformynovel

A post shared by H M Hulme ✍🏼🌹🇪🇺 (@mountainhares) on

About Hannah

Author of literary historical fiction set in the First World War. Revising my first book, writing the next, seeking representation. Mountaineer, gardener, traveller, off-road runner. Africa, modern history, coffee, roses, films, book and unrealistic romance. NHS midwife in a former life.
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