The Language of Kindness

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 02 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

Outstanding. Compassionate and honest.
Can't recommend highly enough - even though it had me weeping on my commute.
Was this review helpful?
I really struggled to get into this one it was a great idea of a story but wasn't for me.
Was this review helpful?
If the rating were only about the content of this book, it would be an easy 5 stars- Christie Watson writes about the need for compassion, understanding, and genuine care for each other. She tells of the hardships of modern nursing and the funding deficits that mean both patients and staff are being let down on multiple levels. She lets the reader into the most private of experiences, the illness or loss of a loved one, and shows how good nursing can help people through hard times. 

And yet, she is not a natural storyteller. Her writing is stilted and dry, leaving too much room between the stories she relates and the emotions they are supposed to convey, leaving the reader bizarrely distanced. Having recently read This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor, it was hard not to make comparisons; this is interesting enough but lacks real impact, whereas that book is full to the brim with human emotion, you felt it in every page, and it resonates with you long after putting the book down. I'd recommend starting there.


ARC via Netgalley
Was this review helpful?
A truly amazing, well written book. As a retired nurse I appreciate how Christie has shown how different situations affect nurses, who often do not have the support that they require to deal with difficult times.
Was this review helpful?
Bawled my eyes out... repeatedly... warts-and-all nursing tales.

Watson has already written (award-winning) fiction, and at the time of writing this is no longer in a nursing occupation. I have read and enjoyed the genre before - Confessions of a GP, Call the Midwife, Nee-Naw, the behind-the-scenes of the medical and emergency service worlds. It's a world I could never cope with, I know that. 

And reading this, I am reminded why. Watson takes us through almost sequentially, from her adolescent leaps into various jobs until finding a niche and a purpose as a nurse. She then takes us through themes and cases, as she moves into more senior posts and looks critically at the medical teams around her.

The hard and emotional cases of illnesses, accidents and deaths are handled with a certain detached ease, though this made me cry all the harder, I have to say. 

I did find a few problems with the writing - one child mentioned seems to switch names several times in one paragraph, I just couldn't understand who I was reading about. And several times, a patient is mentioned then brought up again but in more detail, which I thought unnecessary. It marred the flow. 

Some issues I cheered to see raised (organ donation, the treatment of the elderly, private wards), others (religion and spirituality) I accepted as a necessary part of many staff/patients' lives, though death is a key factor in nursing. Some discussion of the NHS's funding problems would have fitted in well, it could have been written around the nurse's described duties and frustrations. 

I also enjoyed seeing so much of the theories of nursing covered, very interesting for the layperson.

This really is an emotional read, it is powerful and heartfelt but so very, very upsetting. 

With thanks to Netgalley for the advance reading copy, provided for review purposes.
Was this review helpful?
This is a book that is clearly riding the waves of the success of When Breath Becomes Air, but I think it's a worthy competitor. It's not often you get to hear from a nurse's perspective though, and this is definitely the book people need. It's heartbreaking, beautifully told, and provides a fascinating overview of nursing in the UK. However, at times I think it tries to be a bit too much like When Breaths Become Air by incorporating too much history, philosophy and science, and sometimes the narrative feels a bit all over the place. I much preferred the moments that were Christie's own experiences. If you're a fan of medical non-fiction, this is a must-read and is well worth your time.
Was this review helpful?
My obsession with books of a medical bent continue and this one was really good. Thought provoking and honest both about shortcomings in the health service and the author herself.  It moved me to tears more than once and definitely made me think more and certainly to appreciate our NHS
Was this review helpful?
This is a memoir of a nurse working within the nhs in the UK. A fantastic look back on everything that shaped her nursing, and her understanding of nursing. It made me cry in parts. Also includes history and philosophy of nursing too.
Was this review helpful?
I’m not certain why the cover design for Christie Watson’s memoir The Language of Kindness is so abstract; there is certainly nothing abstract or theoretical about the endlessly challenging work of nursing that she describes in this book. Falling into the profession as a seventeen-year-old, Watson bounces all over the place through the course of her career: from mental health wards to geriatric care homes, to working with learning-disabled adults, to oncology and paediatric intensive care. She writes with great tenderness and insight about the toll that the job takes on you; about nursing children who die, and what it is like to wash and prepare their bodies before their parents can come to see them; what it is like to go to their funerals. She writes about the stresses of having few resources and little sympathy, either from the government or from the general public. She writes about her own father’s death from cancer and the way in which his nurse, Cheryl, became more than a professional, something closer to family. Cheryl is there at her father’s funeral. Watson has actually written two novels, but the style of her memoir is stripped-back and matter-of-fact, which both suits the subject matter and emphasises the simple appallingness of human vulnerability, which it is the nurse’s job to dignify and comfort. This isn’t out until May, but I will be recommending it to absolutely everyone. As Watson says, we never know what will happen to us, to people we love; we never know when we might be the ones sitting in the waiting room or propped up in the hospital bed, in need of care and compassion and kindness.
Was this review helpful?
This is a wonderful memoir.  It is an honest account which takes the reader through the life of a teenage girl who doesn't know what she wants to do, who then becomes a student nurse and then gradually, over a period of twenty years, an expert nurse.

As a student, the author initially experiences mental health nursing, but she goes on to choose child nursing as her specialty.  She recounts memories and experiences from different hospitals and different wards, right up to her last post on the resuscitation team.  All of the stories are interesting.  None are overloaded with medical language.  All demonstrate a huge amount of humanity and in the later part of the book also demonstrate the balance between career and family life.  This would be an ideal book for anyone considering a career in nursing.

I felt that the ending was a little bit abrupt.  It was suddenly the author's last day as a nurse and I was left asking why she was leaving the profession and what she was going to do instead.  Just a couple more pages here would have made this a five star read for me.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
What a wonderful book this is, full of compassion, respect and kindness. While reading it, I spent half the time in tears, while filled with sheer awe at the every-day heroism of a nursing life. 

The book is a memoir charting the author's training and experiences as a nurse on different wards, and yet it's so much more than that. It's a look into the lives of a number of patients, some of whom are experiencing terrible pain and debilitating conditions; what it is to be born and die, and the nursing each of these events requires. The author details what it's like for a nurse to be on the side of nursing, when her own father is terminally ill, and intersperses the book with historical notes about nursing through the ages, which are always told in an interesting, thoughtful way.

What came across most is the commitment and dedication of the nurses - the kindness and empathy, how every small detail is considered in order to make patients' lives more comfortable. Also how non-judgemental they try to be whenever dealing with patients, despite occasionally dealing with horrific cases. What an amazing job they do, I was left feeling completely in awe. Everyone in the Department of Health should read this book (and then give all nurses a pay rise).

Not only is the subject matter by turns deeply moving, informative and sometimes comic, the writing is beautiful and intelligent. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
Was this review helpful?
A really beautiful and honest account of a career in nursing. It is a very important read for anyone hoping to understand the goings on of our healthcare system, and the demands it places on it's staff.
Was this review helpful?
Christie Watson was a nurse for 20 years, and this book is Christie's account of her nurse training and subsequent career, and all of the fascinating experiences she encountered, people she met, and the things that she felt. As a nurse myself, I found this a really fascinating read to begin with due to the content and some of the experiences that I could relate to. However, at around the halfway mark I lost interest as the writing style was quite dry, the stories long and convoluted, and it did not grip me as much as I had hoped it would. It's a shame because this had so much potential, but it just did not pack enough of a punch for me.
Was this review helpful?
Having previously read 'This is going to hurt' by Adam Kay, I seem to have developed somewhat of a penchant for medical anecdote books in the past few months. Upon requesting a pre-publishing copy (due for publishing 3rd May 2018) of this book based on the description, I knew I was in for a cracking read - and it doesn't disappoint. This book has been my addiction for six days; I could have got through it in five if it weren't for my eyes being so swamped by tears three-quarters of the way in!
Full of stories from her time as a nurse, this book is a must read for everybody. Anyone who has ever or will ever benefit from the NHS, as it will give you a newfound respect and honour for these wonderful men and women. Watson takes us with her on a journey back through time; from the days she first started nursing, finally settling on a career path after much deliberation, and her first experiences on a mental health ward. To her training on a maternity ward (wowzer, as a non-mummy, what a read!), moving into SCBU and PICU (get me with my medical terminology - it means the intensive cares for tiny babas), ICU for children and teenagers, care of the elderly, being a resuscitation on-call nurse with unimaginable pressures, to simply being kind - someone who holds the kindness of nurses dear to their heart; washing, cleaning, feeding, and simply being there for patients at their most vulnerable. This book isn't all gore and gross things, it's reality. It's thinking 'how does a human being process all of this every working day?'
Some of the stories in this book are very funny, some very repeatable and memorable! Yet, the stories which I hold closest to me after finishing the book, are those showing the greatest human spirit and the saddest of stories. The young children who are aware of their own mortality at such a young age, the sheer pain in a mother's face following the loss of her beloved child, yet who still shows such strength, and the hard-hitting, honest account of Christie's own loss as a daughter losing her father. It absolutely broke my heart, but it is the truest of courage that people can still show compassion and strength, still pick themselves up, with love, support and hope. I found myself picking up my reading pace to check Watson's patients were going to be okay, holding my breath as she told us of her 'firsts' (injections, dead bodies, the like), wincing as medical terms are dissected to graphic Layman's terms and only breathing in as we are told that the patient she has such a strong bond with hasn't made it.
A key part I enjoy of this book is that Watson draws on a variety of religions and their Holy words, a range of well-known nurses and their philosophies (Seacole, Nightingale...), as well as wise words and musings from well-known historical figures and thinkers. They back up a nursing philosophy, adding humanity to the brief nursing standards Christie refers to, giving them heart rather than a set of rules for robots.
This book is an emotional rollercoaster, drawing on the very rawest of human emotion. As a nurse, Christie saw life ending, life beginning, blood, guts, gore and all manner of bodily fluids and processes I can't even remember the names of. What inspires me in this book, is how bloody incredibly our nurses are, and yet how much of a tough time they are put through by the media. My mum used to be a nurse (a ward sister), it was always a path I tiptoed towards but could never commit to (don't do blood or sick). This book reaffirms to me that you have to be an angel from God to be a good nurse. The patience, the grit, working long shifts, sacrifice and commitment, a memory for technical words like no other. The processes to undertake and when, the ways they will affect each patient differently, time to wait for treatment, the difference in cultures, abuse, gender discrimination and identifying all of these often on human instinct. But also the sheer compassion and heart, a patient-nurse relationship which, as the book states, ends when the patient dies or is discharged. Incredible. As a teacher I develop such a bond for my kids, I adore them (when they are the purest of humanity, laughing, making statements about the world only a child could, or even when they drive me up the wall!) like a parent would, as if they were my own. I could never imagine the bond from saving lives on a daily basis, relationships with the families who have lost children, babies or teenagers, women who lose their fathers and husbands, men who lose their mothers and wives. Such a hard message to end the book with, but a reassuring one that, even after death, nurses take care of you. Unimaginable. I already have told some many people about this book. I cannot recommend it enough. Book of the month, no question!
Was this review helpful?
Brilliant!  This book gave a fascinating insight into the role of a nurse in today's NHS.   Christie Watson writes with tenderness, compassion and gentle humour and confirmed for me just how important nurses are in helping patients through their illness.  I would love to read more and hope she writes another book.
Was this review helpful?
Christie is a nurse, but it’s not as simple as that. She’s the one who holds your hand when you cry, helps you understand what the doctor has said, holds babies who are crying when their own mother can’t be there, she’s the one who comes racing through the corridors when you’re having a heart attack to help you.

Simply, she (and every other nurse) is the backbone of our NHS.

When Christie leaves school she begins working with people with disabilities, aiding them before beginning her training to be a nurse. To start with specialising in mental health but moving away into other sections. The book is moving and emotional, detailing harrowing cases of abuse and neglect that brings people to hospital as well as the cases which were unpredictable and being able to protect people is difficult.

In places the book is very personal, we go through the journey of Christie’s Dad passing away. The raw emotions and process that are unknown to some.

Now I really enjoy memoirs of all kinds, I’ve read a fair few medical memoirs but don’t have any medical knowledge beyond that. There are some bits in the book that left me slightly confused over terms, I think the book would suit someone who is in the profession or wants to go into it. There are a few instances within the book where Christie says she didn’t know what something was but then learnt it, however as I’m not in the medical profession I still don’t know what they are!  

Nurses are so important, they are undervalued in our NHS and perhaps all over the world.
Was this review helpful?
There's been a few of these types of titles of late.  Memoirs / stories from real people in real jobs, particularly in the public service sphere giving the public a real insight in what it means to be a nurse / a doctor / a lawyer / a policeman etc.  This is one of the best in the class. It may not have the laugh out loud of Adam Kay, but it gives as great an insight into the real unsung heroes of the medical profession - the nurses.
Christie really gives us a personal insight - from her tricky teens where a life as a nurse felt like the least likely profession she'd follow! - through to her years as a student nurse, and through the various nursing specialities - mental health, pediatrics, surgery etc - giving us stories of patients along the way, interwoven with things that are going on in her own life - the breakdown of her relationship and the death of her father.

A beautifully well written insight, and I will undoubtedly view every member of the nursing profession with an even greater level of respect than I did before.  A truly special profession.
Was this review helpful?
An unusual and detailed story of the making of a nurse in the NHS. The author trained ina general hospital, and worked in various departments. She found mental health nursing very draining; enjoyed working in maternity wards, and looking after premature babies. She also found herself working in both adult and children's intensive care units.
She describes the emotions, and the necessary grit needed to last in an underfunded, and under pressure hospital, and some of the patients and other nurses she encounters.
I found this easy to read, although it does make you glad to be alive and well. I hope should I end up in a hospital, it is one with such a caring nurse as this working there.
Many thanks to the publisher, and Net Galley for the chance to read this book.
Was this review helpful?
There are several books out there written as an insight to the life of a medical professional but this is the most serious and technical I’ve read. It really focuses on the difficult elements of nurses and doesn’t spare any of the gory details. The book is well written and gives excellent insight into the job and how much nurses actually do!
Was this review helpful?
A story which proves how underrated nurses are. This account of nursing pulls at the heart strings and shows how much nurses do for their patients and their patients family. It is a memorable book worth reading.
Was this review helpful?