Celebrity

Claudia Winkleman pays tribute to NHS nurses who were there for her at “most terrifying” moment

Claudia Winkleman’s new book, Quite, is a love letter to life – the real, sometimes messy kind. And, in this exclusive extract, the much-loved TV presenter explains why “the greatest people who walk the earth are nurses.”  

I have been lucky – let’s be honest, incredibly lucky – and of that I have no doubt. However, there have been moments in my life (I think there have been those moments in all our lives) – the most terrifying, the most confusing, the most discombobulating – that have led me to believe that the greatest people who walk the earth are nurses.

They are kind, they are clever, they work incredibly hard, they are there to save us, or to help us through it when saving is simply not possible.

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They do 12-hour shifts, they change the bed pans, insert the cannulas, the feeding tube and the drip. They take our temperature, measure our blood pressure and write down the vitals in a special book.

They are the cool, calm voice in the corner of the room. They know when to leave families alone and they know when they are needed. They have a magical sixth sense and will enter and leave a room at exactly the right time. In a fog of panic and worry they are the steady hand, the comforting touch. They arrive at work after a long commute (ask any nurse who works in a large city, none of them can afford to live close to the hospital) and they put on their uniform and are ready to help people who are going through something so raw, so serious and so important.

Claudia Winkleman
Claudia Winkleman Claudia Winkleman says nurses will “pick you up and put you and your family back together again.”

They hold your hand when your child is going in for an operation, they hold your hand when the surgeon says there’s bad news, they hold your hand when the doctor says the medication isn’t working.

They clean down the bed after an accident and don’t comment, they will help you out of bed when a shower is the best thing for you. They’ll bring in an audiobook CD if they think it’ll help the pain and they’re happy to listen to the same trauma, the same “how did this happen?” over and over and over again. They’ll wait an extra half an hour at the end of the day so they can see your test results, they’ll make you laugh when it’s time for the foul-tasting medicine, they’ll sing ‘Let It Go’ during the barrage of injections and they’ll feel uncomfortable when you offer thanks.

They’ll tell you that it’ll be OK when you know deep down it won’t and they’ll clear up your sick when you can’t make it to the bathroom. They’ll hang fairy lights when your daughter asks for them and they’ll bring tuna sandwiches from the canteen at odd times of day. They’ll get fresh water for a vase and they’ll quell the rising panic. They’ll walk to the operating theatre and will name the special anaesthetic helping teddy and they’ll make sure they tell you when she wakes up. 

They’ll be by your side and they’ll make everything better. 

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They see you at your most vulnerable and are simply there to help. They have so many people to look after on the ward but you know they’ll always come back. They place the emergency button in your hand and they say it doesn’t matter how many times you pressit. They’ll explain what morphine does and why she might shout and fight and they’ll cut the cake when your hands are shaking too much at the end of the day. They’ll make up your bed and say it could be worse, they’ll read her a story when you have to make a call.

They’ll pick you up and put you and your family back together again.

They are our Mona Lisa, they are our everything.

Quite by Claudia Winkleman is out now (£14.99, Waterstones).
Quite by Claudia Winkleman is out now (£14.99, Waterstones).

Quite by Claudia Winkleman is out now (£14.99, Waterstones). 

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Images: Getty/Supplied by publisher

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