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johnboy

Died of strain and overwork

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johnboy

Thanks again TEW. As I have found some pics do you think I should put up one by one ? That way they could be easily found using their name on the forum search and it would also enable extra info such as yours to be added to each individual. 

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TEW

Sounds like a good idea, I'll edit my post to link to the TNA record. I'll also see if I can extract a better photo.

 

There is quite a long enquiry into her demise, interviews with colleagues, friends and seniors. One friend mentioned her fiancé and another that she was depressed at only treating POWs. Interesting also, that a procedure seems to have been in place for nursing staff that were sliding downhill, supervision and a glass of warm milk at bed being part of the treatment.

TEW

 

 

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Dai Bach y Sowldiwr

Thanks for the extra  info TEW & johnboy.

As I mentioned it earlier in the thread, I can't say that I'm surprised to find suicide as a cause of death in nurses.

It really must have been a dreadful job.

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johnboy

Dai

More will be posted using their name as the title for the thread. The link given in this one shows a lot of courage

For some reason I cannot get rid of the quote box below which I did not select.

 

 

Edited by johnboy

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TEW

Spent an hour earlier tonight reading Duckett's service file. There was an official Court of Enquiry. Her mother also wrote to the WO as she was not satisfied with the circumstances of death and explanations given. The WO then instructed the unit involved to answer certain questions raised by the mother so in a way there was a second enquiry.

 

There does seem to have been some oddities, the mother was informed by telegram on the 20th May that her daughter had been admitted ill to hospital. In fact she had already died.

 

A later letter to the father spares no details surrounding her death, seems rather harsh to me to more or less say 'sorry, your daughter has died from self-administration of poison, namely Lysol a disinfectant, a court of enquiry has determined cause of death to be suicide while temporarily insane'.

 

Oddly, another sheet gives cause of death as Syncope. Her mother insists that the taking of the Lysol must have been accidental while in a state of malnutrition IE an attempt to find sustenance in something as she had not been eating.

 

There are references to communications being sent 'cyphered' between the Hospital and the WO, those have been weeded.

Another report refers to 'Sheet Y' being sent separately due to it's sensitive nature. That has been weeded as well.

Lysol seems to have had other uses at the time.

TEW

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johnboy

Thanks for taking the time to go through the service record. It has added so much more.

I am wondering if Strain and overwork was used along the same lines as shell shock?  Both conditions caused by exposure to horrific things that they had not encountered before and possibly leading to a change in behaviour which at the time could not be medically accounted for?

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Dai Bach y Sowldiwr
29 minutes ago, johnboy said:

I am wondering if Strain and overwork was used along the same lines as shell shock?

 

Yes to some extent.

But perhaps it was 'code' that those in the know understood, a convenient euphemism that the public at large did not know the true meaning of.

In an era of vague diagnoses and causes of death, 'strain', 'overwork', 'overstrain' or combinations thereof, would not appear out of the ordinary to relatives back home.

Syncope is another archaic term, as are 'coma' and 'cachexia'

Although it is used today as a descriptive term, meaning 'a collapse caused by any of a thousand disease processes', it is not allowable today as a cause of death. Curiously, Duckett's mother was suspicious about the use of the term even then.

 

You can however use the term 'syncope' on modern cremation forms, not as the cause of death, which must match exactly what is on the death certificate, but in one of the sections further down the form where a description of the nature of the death is extra background information for the benefit of the second doctor signing the form, and the crematorium superintendent

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johnboy

From what I have read a lot of the nursing volunteers came from good backgrounds and probably did not know what they were letting themselves in for. If they had had any hospital experience before the war it was probably with surgical and general medical cases, not men with disfigured faces and missing limbs. They would have seen these men when they arrived and with only basic first aid applied. 

My other thread shows a nurse from a completely different background. And from Wales!

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Dai Bach y Sowldiwr
22 hours ago, johnboy said:

From what I have read a lot of the nursing volunteers came from good backgrounds and probably did not know what they were letting themselves in for.

Yes I agree. I'm sure that very many would have had no prior training whatsoever, and just being transplanted from comfortable middle/upper class backgrounds into the carnage would have been quite destabilizing.

 

23 hours ago, johnboy said:

My other thread shows a nurse from a completely different background. And from Wales!

 

Yes I read about Dorothea Roberts.

She moved about a bit didn't she?

There are Meirionnydd Robertses on both my father and my mother's lineages, but I don't think there is any link to Dorothea.

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johnboy

She moved about a bit didn't she?

 

Not sure she had much choice.

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John Gilinsky

Modern parlance - or vocabulary:  occupational stress.  Paraphrasing a famous American derived medical term and for a long period in the latter 19th century and early 20th century `soldier`s heart`` - ``NURSE`S HEART.`` seems highly relevant having strolled through this thread so far.

 

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Marilyne

Interesting topic.

It is a fact that a lot of nurses memoirs mention bouts of "neuralgia" that all of them had at some point, at it is only natural. One just wonders why there were not more cases, given what they went through.

Another case that I'll be researching for my project is Nellie Taylor, buried in Mont Huon. she threw herself off a cliff. The Appleton Diaries mention her… without name but cross checking dates and burials made that an easy find.

 

M.

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David Filsell

The same term was also used to denote shell shock early in the war.

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Dai Bach y Sowldiwr

Not come across 'Neuralgia' in this context.

Neuraesthenia, neuritis, neurosis, yes, but not neuralgia, which even then was a specific neurological symptom - pain in an area of the body attributable to a specific injury or disease of a nerve. eg Trigeminal neuralgia - facial pain due to some problem involving a branch of the trigeminal nerve.

Are such entries first hand entries by the patient themselves, or second hand via someone not au fait with the vocabulary?

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David Filsell

You know what Mr DByS you are absolutely correct. I made an error. Should have checked my contempoary sources on Great War Shell Shock before making my reply. Apologies.

Regards

David.

 

 

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Dai Bach y Sowldiwr
Just now, David Filsell said:

You know what Mr DByS you are absolutely correct. I made an error. Should have checked my contempoary sources on Great War Shell Shock before making my reply. Apologies.

Regards

David.

Ah, thanks David, I thought it was a bit odd.

What was the original word in this instance? Neuraesthenia?

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David Filsell

Put simply, yes. Brain fade! Apologies for clouding the issue.

regards

David

 

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PhilB

As I mentioned in post #23, these alleged neurasthenic and overwork problems are rarely seen in reports on the labouring classes including the PBI. Did the social class of the patient influence the diagnosis? 

Edited by PhilB

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Robert Dunlop

We need to be careful not to conflate neurasthenia and neuralgia, as Dai Bach y Sowldiwr pointed out. Marilyne quoted 'bouts of "neuralgia"' being mentioned in many nurses' memoirs. Neuralgia is pain arising in nerves, due to the nerve being trapped, inflamed or otherwise damaged. This is very different from neuraesthenia, which is better translated as "nervous fatigue". The 'neur-' element is referring to whole nervous system in the latter case, whereas neuralgia is very specific to a nerve or group of nerves. 

Nurses had a heavy workload, quite literally in many cases. Lifting people and equipment takes its toll on the spine, for example. This can cause nerve entrapment due to disc herniation as one potential work-related cause of neuralgia. If the affected nerve/s are low down in the back then the neuralgia is often referred to as sciatica. 

Robert

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