The Language of Kindness

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 02 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

This book should be on the reading list for every junior doctor . It shows without any sugar coating the personal values and personal investment nursing staff have at the risk to their own emotional wellbeing. It shows that nurses get stuck in at the risk of their own health and their own cost.  In every case the patient is their priority even if the staff are time poor because of overwork, staffing levels and incessant paperwork - the patient is always first.
This book is not just a list of  stories of '...... patients I have cared for....' it is much more about the feelings and the draining effort of being a nurse in the NHS in the 21st century.
I aplaude you all !
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I really enjoyed this book. I bought a copy for someone after reading it. Such an interesting life story and a fascinating insight into the NHS.
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I thought being I nurse myself I would find this interesting, I was right, nurses all have different journeys and this was no exception. The author has given an account of her twenty years in different fields of nursing. She does not explain why that journey ended. I am thinking it must be to write. Christie Watson wrote this book with great sensitivity, she recalls her journey from the very early days as a teenager. As she recalls her experiences, she has tried to back up some parts with explanations and appropriate quotes. There is a lot of information but presented in a very clear way and there are also many tears of sadness and joy. Even as a nurse I was amazed to find the depth that Christie Watson embraced her work. The author sounds like someone with energy and passion and this comes across in her writing and in her work.  It's not a perfect story, you wouldn't expect it to be, life is not like that, it doesn't always go to plan and somethings cannot be explained. This is a book that will revive the dwindling respect that today's nurses receive and give an admiration for their commitment to their job. The book gives a positive account of nursing
It makes the reader aware nursing is not easy, sometimes it requires great skill and patience with an ability to see beyond what is presented. The book is an eye opener, one that can be enjoyed by all, not just people connected with the profession. I will now have to look at other books written by Christie Watson, as if she writes those in the same way, I know I will enjoy them.
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This book was everything I hoped it would be: moving, insightful, pragmatic, it gives real ‘inside take’ on what working in nursing is all about. 

Everyone should read this book. Anyone who has ever had anything bad to say about the NHS must read this book and any politician who works in connection with healthcare has to read this.
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I might pick it up again in the future but this has a high probability of being put under the DNF category. It reads like one of those articles from nursing journals relating about the latest study. I find the writing too dry and clinical, and since the topic is something I’m already closely familiar with, there’s not much else to keep my attention.
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I found this book to be very informative on what goes on in hospitals and about Christie's life. An interesting read.
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Simply stunning. I worked in hospitals for eight years so have a big interest in medical memoirs and think nursing is one of the most undervalued professions going. Yet people still dedicate their lives to helping others at what may be the most awful moments of their lives. The stories from frontline nursing made me cry, laugh and restore my faith in humanity just a little. A must read.
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How to describe this book?  If you are interested in the history of nursing .... it’s here!  If you wonder what it is like to be a nurse ...... it’s here! The warmth and compassion of a caring and knowledgable heart shine through. I’m so glad that Christy did not follow through on the other careers that she investigated. This book should be given to every trainee nurse as part of their required reading. I have been in tears and rejoiced with Christie and have learnt  so much through these pages. Thank you so much for writing this, Christie
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Based on the 20 years that Watson spent as a nurse in England’s health system before leaving to write full-time, this taps into the widespread feeling that medicine is in desperate need of a good dose of compassion, and will ring true for anyone who spends time in hospitals, whether as a patient or a carer.

Watson presents her book as a roughly chronological tour through the stages of nursing – from pediatrics through to elderly care and the tending to dead bodies – but also through her own career, as she grows from a seventeen-year-old trainee who’s squeamish about blood to a broadly experienced nurse who can hardly be fazed by anything. The first chapter is set up like a tour of the hospital, describing everything she sees and hears as she makes her way up to her office, and the final chapter takes place on her very last day as a nurse, when, faced with a laboring mother in a taxi, she has to deliver the baby right there in the carpark.

In between we hear a series of vivid stories that veer between heartwarming and desperately sad. Watson sees children given a second shot at life. Aaron gets a heart–lung transplant to treat his cystic fibrosis and two-year-old Charlotte bounces back from sepsis – though with prosthetic limbs. But she also sees the ones who won’t get better: Tia, a little girl with a brain tumor; Mahesh, who has muscular dystrophy and relies on a breathing tube; and Jasmin, who is brought to the hospital after a house fire but doesn’t survive for long. She dies in the nurses’ arms as they’re washing the smoke smell out of her hair.

Although Watson specialized in children’s intensive care nursing, she trained in all branches of nursing, so we follow her into the delivery room, mental health ward, and operating theatre. As in Maggie O’Farrell’s I Am, I Am, I Am, we learn about her links to hospitals over the years, starting with her memories of being nursed as a child. She met her former partner, a consultant, at the hospital; they had a child together and adopted another before splitting 12 years later. And as her father was dying of lung cancer, she developed a new appreciation for what nurses do as she observed the dedicated care he received from his hospice nurse. She characterizes nursing as a career that requires great energy, skill and emotional intelligence, “that demands a chunk of your soul on a daily basis,” yet is all too often undervalued.

For me the weakest sections of Watson’s book are the snippets of history about hospitals and the development of the theory and philosophy of nursing. These insertions feel a little awkward and break up the flow of personal disclosure. The same applies to the occasional parenthetical phrase that seems to talk down to the reader, such as “women now receive medical help (IVF) to have their babies” and “obstetricians (doctors) run the show.” Footnotes or endnotes connected to a short glossary might have been a less obtrusive way of adding such explanatory information.

I would particularly recommend this memoir to readers of Kathryn Mannix’s With the End in Mind and Henry Marsh’s Admissions. But with its message of empathy for suffering and vulnerable humanity, it’s a book that anyone and everyone should read. I have it on good authority that there has recently been a copy on the desk of Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary of the UK, which seems like an awfully good start.

A few favorite passages:

“I wanted to live many lives, to experience different ways of living. I didn’t know then that I would find exactly what I searched for: that both nursing and writing are about stepping into other shoes all the time.”

“What I thought nursing involved when I started: chemistry, biology, physics, pharmacology and anatomy. And what I now know to be the truth of nursing: philosophy, psychology, art, ethics and politics.”

“You get used to all sorts of smells, as a nurse. [An amazingly graphic passage!] But for all that I’ve seen and touched and smelled, and as difficult as it is at the time, there is a patient at the centre of it, afraid and embarrassed. … The horror of our bodies – our humanity, our flesh and blood – is something nurses must bear, lest the patient think too deeply, remember the lack of dignity that makes us all vulnerable. It is our vulnerability that unites us. Promoting dignity in the face of illness is one of the best gifts a nurse can give.”
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One of the most complex, encouraging reads I have ever devoured, The Language of Kindness is ultimately beautiful. Its context is gripping and painful, yet also heart-warming and hopeful. It's every facet of humanity in one book; held under a microscope. I took my time with this book but for all of the right reasons.

There are stories of people from all walks of life with various ailments, Christie's own experiences with the NHS system, and her own life's difficulties. Each section is discussed with its high points and low points and nothing is sweetened to make an easier read. Life is tough and in part so is this book, but the joyous moments are also celebrated.
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This is my kind of book.
I feel like everyone has that one very specific type of book that they can never pass up and for me that is medical non-fiction or memoirs. I find different healthcare systems and the experiences of people working within them so interesting that I could read these types of books forever. If you are one of these slightly odd people like me, this book is definitely for you.

I loved so much of it.
If I was rating this book purely on the information within it and what I took from it, it would easily be a five star read. There is so much really great information about what it takes to be a nurse and how much the job takes from you. These are things I already knew, but reading about a person's real experience of their job and how the challenges of nursing made a real impact on their life made it all the more real. This is a perfect book for anyone in the nursing or healthcare field.

It is not for everyone.
Being in this field, I found this book so interesting and helpful. However, I don't think those outwith the field will be able to take the same from it. It is not a memoir filled with funny stories of interesting patients, it is a real, raw look at nursing and everything nurses face. There is a lot of nursing theory and almost academic discussion, which I learnt a lot from but is not likely to be the most interesting thing for non-nurses to be reading about.

The writing was hard to follow.
While the content was great, the writing didn't flow making it a little difficult to follow. We jumped from one story to the next without transition and it was often unclear when these stories took place in relation to the point in her career. This did not take away from the content but was a little confusing.

A must-read for anyone considering nursing.
I think this book should be compulsory reading material for anyone considering nursing as a career. I know many student nurses who could have benefited from this kind of insight into the career before starting their studies. It is a true representation of life as a nurse, warts and all, and emphasises the true fundamental aspect of nursing; kindness.

Overall, I think this is a great nursing memoir for those in the healthcare field but may not be the most accessible, easy to read book for others. Personally, I took a great deal from this book and have learnt things that I know I will put into practice in my own career. I would definitely recommend it to anyone in the field or considering nursing as a career, but it is not a book for everyone.
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What a truly inspirational story this is as Christie Watson literally took me by the hand and walked me through twenty years of her nursing career, sharing some of the most intimate moments where she, her patients and their families were at their most vulnerable. She made me laugh and cry with a raw honesty where she held nothing back warts and all.
Going into nursing was not a calling for her but more a career that she stumbled on through circumstances. This journey took me through A & E to specialised nursing and everything in between, the politics and lack of funding to the cogs of the real decision makers of patient care. As I read each page this hidden world that we all take for granted unfolded.
These were real people’s lives, real events and no retakes. The stories of courageous children and how every person that works in the hospital and comes in contact with them are affected when nothing can be done except make end of life as pain-free as possible and not frightening but it doesn’t stop there for many. Especially with the long-term illness and palliative care.
Very little of her personal life is in the book with the exception of her family being on the receiving end of nursing care when her father was ill. It was really special that she shared that time and although she was capable of doing the nursing role it gave her father dignity because another nurse took over the intimate care and someone her father to open up to honestly. At that time Christie really did need to be simply his daughter. It was very touching.
It never is just about the patient either, there is a story of a little girl being brought in after a house fire and what the nurses did I will never forget. This is a reality check. I really wish that everyone would read this book. It will waken all of your senses, the smells and the terrible things they see but also your emotions, a good day is when everyone survives.  It really does hit home about these unsung heroes that we all take for granted. Superb!
I wish to thank Vintage for inviting me to read this book via NetGalley which I have reviewed honestly.
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This is an excellent book. It isn't perfect but then another are we. And Ms Watson shows people in all their imperfect glory and it is wonderful. The empathy, compassion, (and occasional stubbornness), needed just to get through her career as a nurse for 20 years in the NHS is well captured here. Starting from her first day when she wasn't sure who was staff and who was patients, the author grows into the role and the need to care. Small things are important and she never forgets that. The book is a series of stories and sometimes is a bit fractured but it did not stop me enjoying it and feeling the emotion on every page.

Recommended if you still love the NHS and are getting a bit cynical about life.

I was given a copy of this book by Netgalley in return for an honest review.
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I found this a very interesting and fascinating read about Christie's account of her Nursing career .Very enjoyable proving that Christie and every other nurse is the true  backbone of the NHS .
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I work in a University faculty which covers all aspects of medicine and health sciences, including the nursing degrees.  As such, many of my colleagues teach on the nursing modules and I've learned quite a bit about nursing from hearing their varied experiences.  Christie Watson has spent many years as a nurse and has many stories to tell - many of them uplifting, but many of them with unhappy endings.  The Language of Kindness: A nurse's story by Christie Watson* is definitely a bit of an eye-opener.
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Christie Watson spent twenty years as a nurse, and in this intimate, poignant, and remarkably powerful book, she shares its secrets.

Christie Watson worked for the NHS for twenty years. She takes us on her journey from her very first day in training, walking along the hospital corridors, telling us what she has seen and heard, and the various wards/departments she has worked on. She writes about the compassion, understanding and the genuine care needed to do the job. This book is a tribute to nurses everywhere who work very hard and are sometimes not appreciated for the work they do. They comfort the dying and devote their lives to the living. They are regularly a abused by the people they are trying to help. This is a true account of nursing at its best and worst times.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Random House UK, Vintage Publishing and the author Christie Watson for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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The Language of Kindness

Christie Watson is a former nurse. She left the profession burnt out and despondent and this account of her time in the NHS pulls no punches. I was riveted from start to finish. In addition to personal stories of both triumph and loss, she also informs about the structure and constraints of the NHS. This is a very personal account of the day to day grind of nursing; the young, the old, the dying, the families and how she and other dedicated professionals deal with the daily demands. 

It's often a harrowing read, but it's written with honesty and most of all, her care and compassion shines through. This is the real grit of nursing. It's a service we're all likely to encounter at close quarters at some point in life (or approaching death) and her insight provides a rare glimpse from the other side. There are stories that will remain with you; how she helped to wash the hair of a dying child, so that her relatives wouldn't have to face the smell of smoke and burning. I doubt many readers will reach the end of the book without shedding a tear or two. Despite that, this a compelling read. It's the story of many dedicated individuals who collectively are the 'the nursing profession'. It's impossible to put a price on their skill and services and the loss when people such as Christie Watson leave is incalculable. 

My thanks to the publisher for a review copy via Netgalley.
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An honest and truthful account of nursing from someone who has ‘been there and done that’.
Such an inspirational book even for someone like me who works 9-5 in front of a computer.
Her tales are sometimes harrowing, euphoric but always from the heart.
Loved this book, thank you for such an incredible insight into your world.
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The Language of Kindness is a truly remarkable book about the realities of being a nurse. It was so refreshing to read a book that highlighted the role of the nurse and the fact that this vocational career is grounded in kindness, empathy, goodwill and compassion.

I read the book through the eyes of a former nurse. I worked as a care assustant, then as a trained nurse on elderly care wards, orthopedics, and surgery, before settling on renal dialysis. For me, this book was so very authentic, and could only have been written by a nurse with a wealth of experience. This author has this in abundance, and she so clearly demonstrates what it is actually like to be a nurse on a busy ward in the day and in the depths of the night.

This book made me laugh, it made me cry. It made me stop and think about how nurses and care assistants are the backbone of the NHS, and how they are overworked and undervalued. It also tells of all the disciplines that nurses work in. That of caring for a new mother, for the frail and elderly patient who feels all alone. That the nurse is a listener, comforter and is there to hold your hand.

This is a hugely powerful book about the kindness of human nature. About how everyone who works in the NHS is doing their damndest under the most difficult of circumstances. This book is a real eye opener to those who have no experience of what it is like to work on thst busy surgical ward, to treat a casualty in A &E, and what it is like to keep watch over yoir patient in the dead of night.

The Language of Kindness is a very special book. It restored my faith in human kindness

The Language of Kindness is published by Chatto & Windus on 3 May 2018. It is available to buy on Amazon here.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the Advanced Reader Copy.
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There is no doubt that Christie Wilson feels passionately about nursing and her career in the NHS. This feels as much a dossier to make us understand as a memoir. And there are such powerful stories of her patients that she has to tell. 
But it feels a little like someone trying to get their point across by firing out lots of the most heart rending examples. And - strangely - this left me feeling less than I might have done in hearing them.
I work in healthcare and did find this very interesting. But I can’t say it stirred great passion in me, and that is what I expected. 
Maybe we needed longer with the patients she described before we moved on to the next examples?
It’s the same with Christie’s own life. She does try to be honest, but I never had a real feeling of compassion for her. 
I think that Christie writes fluently but her writing lacks something in depth and making the reader feel immersed.
So, in summary, I enjoyed this and plodded through it happily over a couple of weeks, but never felt a great compunction to pick it up and read it in one go as I have done with some writing in the same genre.
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