A Nurse’s Tale

By Isabella Neal

Balmain, Sydney. 1975. A young, dedicated woman by the name of Katrina Singh, pins on her nurses’ cap and walks down the corridors of Balmain Hospital to begin her shift.

Taking care of her patients of all ages was a privilege and honour as they shared stories about their lives and families while she devoted her nursing care and attention to them.

Reminiscing about her nursing days, Katrina says it was a lot like the television show, Love Child.

“The 70s I knew was colourful, free spirited, new age, exciting, full of promise; The mini-series Love Child was meticulously on point of life in the 70s particularly through the eyes of the nurses and midwives,” Katrina says.

“The series resonated deeply with me and memories, wonderful memories flooded back in living colour of an era that held promise and new found revelations.”

Katrina has always had a kind, caring, gentle nature. She would even spend some of her time of her days off, visiting the elderly patients, brushing her elderly patient’s hair and making them feel young again by applying their lipstick, before tucking them into bed with a nice, warm patchwork blanket. Helping her male patients, Katrina would lend a hand with shaving and applying a splash of cologne followed by gentle sing-a-long.

Katrina loved to take her patients for walks, or wheeling them outside to enjoy the sunshine. Her patients would often sit and reminisce about their early years with tears in their eyes and Katrina would follow suit.

“My patients meant so much to me. I cared expressly about their well-being and dedicated myself to such. They trusted me and we grew a bond of closeness as days came and went. I would often put in extra time before and after my shifts and on days off, just to spend with them, brushing their hair, playing cards, taking them for walks, playing with the kids in the children’s ward”, she says.

Katrina fondly remembers an elderly lady by the name, Mrs Lake. She played an everlasting role in Katrina’s nursing life.

“Mrs Lake had the most kindly blue eyes; she was so sweet. She had long soft silvery white hair that I’d brush for her and pin up in a bun. She couldn’t really speak but communicated with by smiling, pointing, nodding etc. I’d often spend time with her reading or brushing her beautiful hair. She loved a piece of chocolate every now and then, too. I loved that grand, graceful lady,” Katrina reminisces.

Katrina is very proud of her nursing days and often shares her feelings to her daughter.

“I was always very proud to dress appropriately in my nurses’ uniform – stockings, brown nursing shoes, white paper caps which we were taught to fold correctly into shape and pin on to our neatly coifed hair”, Katrina says.

“I’d pin on my nurses watch to my uniform and to top it off, I’d donned a royal blue, woollen cape. I’d just feel so proud to be in a profession that offered care, comfort and love to all”, she says.

It was during her early nursing days that she met one of her closest, dearest and oldest friend’s to this day. Also working as a nursing student, Inga later became a Godmother to Katrina’s youngest daughter, Isabella in 1997.

“One of my best friends I met when nursing in 1975 when we were both 17, and we are firm, loving friends to this day. Inga and her husband, Michael (who was also a nurse) are Godparents to my youngest daughter”, she says.

Katrina’s love and compassion for people has been clearly inherited and shared by her daughters as they nurture their own families. That’s just a testament to Katrina’s strength and abilities. She was a great nurse and the skills she developed throughout the years have sustained her.