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The Flatus Nurse

Life was pretty tough for a junior nurse back in the day*:

Military hospital, France 1945: the flatus nurse does her rounds.

At precisely 7 AM each morning the flatus nurse would commence her round.
Patients would assume the Schlemberg’s position (recumbant with legs held high in the air) and one by one, amidst much grunting, straining and proclaiming, produce their best gaseous emission.
The junior nurse on duty would then be required to accurately assess each patients vaporous deliveries for both pungency and aromatic fortitude. Both of these qualities were duly documented and tabulated in the Somes Ventus Pungency Ustulo, a large leather-bound book, kept on the Matrons desk in a small adjoining office.
Accidental production of a solid would result in swift reprimand from the Matron or Doctor on duty as bowel motions were not to be considered until the 4 PM round.
Smoking, of course, was strictly forbidden at this time.

— Diary entry. Nurse Joan Miller 1945


* OK, OK. For the record, the above quote is a complete pile of fake news that I wrote for an old nursing blog. The ACTUAL information accompanying this photo is: Soldiers suffering from trench foot exercise at a base hospital in France under the supervision of Capt. Edward Bendittz, Worcester, Mass and 1st Lt. Muriel Woolhouse, St. Paul, MN, 03/03/1945.

If you would like a much more accurate idea of what nursing used to be like: Nursing in the 1950’s

2 replies on “The Flatus Nurse”

However, during my training, I was taught how to insert a flatus tube. It was fed into a bowl of water with the advice being to add some detergent to reduce the smell. Many bubbles later…..

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