CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 3290/2/150
TitleLetter from Amelia Nyasa Laws to her parents, Robert and Maggie Laws
Date4 - 9 October 1916
Extent9 sheets
DescriptionLetter from Amelia Nyasa Laws, Hotel Terminus, Chambéry, Savoie, to her parents, regarding catching up on correspondence; Uncle's departure for Rome; they are to follow next week; they are in no hurry and want to buy some household things in Chambéry before they leave; she feels strange having so much time again; she would return to Aix tomorrow - her time there has been the happiest since leaving school; the type of place appeals to her; she describes the hospital again with a small diagram; the patients who could do so played bowls and croquet in the garden; description of regular procedures; duties of the infirmière, aide, and infirmier; the nurses in two wards were nuns, and the infirmiers were priests, one of whom conducted the service on Sundays; arrangements for meals and services; description of kitchen quarters; food and its consumption; uniforms of staff; the appearance and duties of the pharmacist, also a nun; ether used as anaesthetic according to the Lyon school of surgery, rather than chloroform as according to the Paris school; duties of medical staff; problems with volunteers as nurses as social standing indicated nursing standing (not always accurately); battles amongst the staff and their history; doubts about the use of some of the funds; the aides tend to be the nurses' daughters and spend their days in flirting and embroidery; the patients despise both nurses and aides; the patients tend to judge without diplomacy but with great accuracy; they make up for the pettiness of the other staff; the soldiers are sick of the war; they do not want to talk about conditions in the trenches but she has picked up some descriptions; description of postes de secours, and of the sight of parts of corpses at the front; the ground level at Verdun has risen with the number of corpses there, unburied; no truces are given for burial or rescue of the wounded; choice of stretcher-bearers; their conditions of work; description of Magnier's experience, thinking he had abdominal wounds; his sciatic nerve was partly cut; the wounded are not heroic but their patience is beautiful; the success of amputations depends often on the patient's medical history; gangrene is treated with electricity, leaving 'fire spots'; Leyrissel had them all over his thigh; the patients were eager to be massaged because they could see the results; Bordes' hand was a success; Muller's pierced elbow yielded to treatment; Cavet and Zédon, with knee injuries were able to bend their legs and walk; many patients were able to continue their own treatment after they left; Poutrot liked his wound; the hostility of Mme. Brouard and Mme. Fournier made the patients like Amelia all the more; Mme. Brouard especially terrified one patient, Telliez, who thought she was chasing him; he ran away from the hospital and was put in prison because of her; Mlle. Perolaz continually demanded respect; story of one man refusing to prepare beans because his wounds were not healed and he thought it unhygienic; the patients were all of the agricultural or labouring class, critical of anyone who slipped into unladylike behaviour; Amelia was popular but did not flirt; one patient who was a Protestant plucked up courage after finding she was one to return to church; she attributes her success to her faith, and shows Mlle. Perolaz what she means by reading to her from the Bible; Mlle. Perolaz now looks on her as an intermediary who will pray for her - not quite what she wanted; Mlle. Perolax has improved greatly; plans for Aunt and her to spend the next day arranging their passports; Uncle is keen for her to continue massage when she returns to Rome and will speak to Professor Bastianelli, the surgeon; the Quirinal is the other option, but neither appeals to her; Uncle is trying to thwart the criticism of Mrs. Brock and her party; Mr. Green, if he is still teaching, will not like her doing Red Cross work instead of concentrating on his lessons; she is determined to devote her time either to massage or to music, not to split between the two; Rome is always a mosaic and they are not looking forward to the scirocco again; she is suspicious of Uncle's motives; she will spend the summers in more useful work now than heretofore; she is happy to have proved that she is up to hospital work; thanks for letter and the arrangements over the War Loan; Mr. Inglis is dealing with financial arrangements; she is sending mother a table centre made for her by Maurice Dufau, a grateful patient; she has sent others to Mrs. Daly, Mrs. Fleming and Mrs. Campbell; he writes now that he has no limp; his father has permitted him to leave the farm and follow a trade after the war; she hopes also to send a pair of braces for her father; difficulties of postage in wartime.
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