I think we can all agree that the NHS is so much more than a service, it’s a living thing made up for thousands, if not millions, of people all contributing so much of themselves in the care of others. Reading The Language of Kindness has confirmed to me that there’s no greater sacrifice than nursing.
This moving book is a memoir by Christie Watson, a nurse for 20 years and mother of two. Christie’s first novel, Tiny Sunbirds Far Away, won the Costa First Novel Award and her second novel, Where Women are Kings, was also published to international acclaim. I’ve already put both on my ‘to read’ list!
The Language of Kindness is a portal into a world the general public come into contact with frequently throughout life but never fully experience, how lucky we are. The business of life, care and death is a conflicting and often desperate one. With her careful story telling and meshing of anecdotes with medical history Christie lifts the curtain and invites the reader into a sacred place. To say I was moved is an understatement.
Before I started reading The Language of Kindness I had an idea in my head about Christie as a person, a real stereotype actually. I imagined her as an older lady, if not pious at least dutiful who’d been called to the vocation of nursing. That’s not to say she isn’t an incredible woman with my utmost respect, she certainly is! But, the Christie we meet at the start of the book is a teenager without much direction, she has flights of fancy and is always searching for meaning or purpose. It’s over the years, through study then training and being on the job that she wrestles with and finds answers to all sorts of questions. What is kindness? What does it meant to show compassion? Have we lost our heart, as a society? Even touching on the uncertain future of the NHS – under inordinate pressure from an aging population and a shortage of funds as well as nurses.
During the course of her career Christie moves around various specialties from A&E to mental health nursing, a brief period with midwifery, children’s nursing and a complex role on the resuscitation team. The stories move from one time period and specialism to the next yet the book still flows with such ease I never felt lost or had to find a frame of reference. To me Christie is a true nurse, even as an author, she’s a guide showing us the way bringing a warm personal touch to often precise medical and complex information. The Language of Kindness is as much a story of Christies journey into and through nursing as it is a reflection of the journey we are all on through life.
Yes, this book is heavy and full of searching questions but it is also familiar and light as Christies easy manner draws the reader in and allows us to become a part of the fabric of the story. In fact any of us could have a part in the book, as a patient or a family member. The language of kindness is a tongue we all seem to struggle to master yet desperately need to hear and feel in our most vulnerable moments.
Honestly I cannot reccomend this book enough, pick it up, come behind the curtain and meet some of the incredible men and women of the NHS as well as patients you’ll never forget.
The Language of Kindness is available on Amazon (UK) from £8.99