Blog 86 A teething problem many years ago.

Mrs Meek was a big woman. She was loud, domineering and opinionated – all in all an intimidating woman who certainly wasn’t ‘meek’ by nature.  She had been admitted with abdominal pain but bitterly resented having to be in the main ward and she wearied the nurses with her constant demands and criticisms. She also irritated her fellow patients with her never ending judgement of the food and the behaviour of the nurses. The recipient of most of this carping was Lily Davis a frail old lady of 92 in the adjacent bed of the large and airy nightingale ward. This was particularly unfortunate as Lily was coming to the end of her days and would have appreciated a little peace and quiet.

The ward was hectically busy on the morning that Lily died; the nurses were short staffed, a consultant ward round was in progress, a new patient was waiting to be admitted and Mrs Meek was due in the x-ray department for some pictures of her belly so Student Nurse Carol Jackson was delegated to prepare Lily for her final journey.

Having been ‘Nil by Mouth’ for her x-rays, Mrs Meek was hungry on her return to the ward at lunchtime and demanded double portions ‘seeing that Lily won’t be needing hers’ she said,  nodding to the empty bed beside her. A minute later Mrs Meek shouted for attention.

 ‘I can’t find my false teeth’ she complained,  ‘and the flowers on my locker aren’t mine either.’ 

 Sister glanced at the locker and the awful truth dawned on her. Lily Davis was on her way to paradise wearing Mrs Meek’s teeth.

‘While you were having your x-ray we took the lockers out for cleaning’ she lied fluently. ‘Don’t worry we’ll have them back in  a minute'.

She despatched Nurse Jackson to the mortuary. She  raced there and returned ten minutes later with Mrs

Meek’s dentures.  The teeth were thoroughly cleaned, rinsed and placed in a new denture pot. 
Without a word of thanks, Mrs Meek popped the teeth in her mouth and then complained that her lunch had gone cold and demanded that it be reheated.

And no – in those days we didn’t fill in an ‘adverse incident’ form. We had a quiet chuckle and made sure it didn’t happen again.

This short story was submitted by Margaret Dixon from Langdon Hill,  Essex

Two readers have added similar stories as follows;

We all know the story of the student nurse tasked to clean all the false teeth for the patients. She duly collected them all in a bowl.  Jenny Kynes

I had something similar happen to me as a young staff nurse. When one of my patients passed her family came to see her I gave them my condolences and they thanked me for looking at her on her final days then asked where her teeth were I was somewhat taken aback ans said that she had them in.  

Oh well , please can we have them back; she only borrowed them from her friend to come into hospital..  Liz MacKellar

Thanks Jenny and Liz - much appreciated. Peter