No! We nurses have not lost our ‘Muchness’.

“‎You’re not the same as you were before,” he said. You were much more… muchier… you’ve lost your muchness.”
Lewis Carroll ‘Alice through the looking glass’ quote.

Watching the Alice films with Johnny Depp, I heard this line and ‘Bam!’ immediately I thought of our roles as nurses. I hadn’t remembered it from reading the books way, way back in my childhood. In my infants school days, the teacher read the books to the classroom at the end of every lesson over the weeks. That experience cemented a love for the Alice stories. So? Muchness……

The illustration above with those beautiful individual characters expressions? Speak to me of a hundred stories and reactions. Each of the 4 could speak a volume in thoughts and subsequent responses. Look yourselves…..and imagine. The hare?………The dormouse?……..the Hatter?………Alice? The Hatter looking at Alice with those immortal words. His expression of disdain and judgement. Or maybe concern and worriesome thinking. The dormouse ‘keep my eyes shut and pretend I didn’t hear’ stance or maybe ‘I’ll shove my two pennies worth in if I can be arsed’ thinking…. the disbelief of hare and the words on his lips of ‘now just wait a minute’ or nod in agreement opposite? Alice’s indignation or anger at Hatter getting it all wrong or being in such a mood due to her current situation.


“‎You’re not the same as you were before,” he said. You were much more… muchier… you’ve lost your muchness.”

I say……..Long live ‘muchness’. Current trends have led to us nurses and HCA’s experiencing the perceived phenomenon of having lost our ‘Muchness’…….and we need to say ‘We never lost our Muchness. It’s always been there!’. We take pride in our contributions and reflect and look into our own looking glass and love what we see. We are ‘and have always been’ the best at what we do. Just wish others see us from the personal experience after having seen what we do day to day……and not what they read in the media.

Staff Nurses and their co-workers, the Health Care Assistants, (although I disagree with the ‘assistants’ descriptive and prefer to recognise their equality as co-workers in providing minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day, week to months to years of healthcare and provision towards patients realising well-being outcomes) have, alongside their patients, considerations of personal individualised daily challenges.

Health Care Assistants (HCA’s), who, as said, are equals within the teamwork ethic, prod and delve and encourage and support ambition. They smile, are both positive in their spoken encouragement but also extremely good listeners. They can also spot when something is wrong due to their assisting the patients in fundamental care. They come up to me on a shift and say things like “You need to come and have a look at…….. Something is not right”. They even tell you what they think is actually not right. They’ve witnessed hundreds or thousands of bodies and knowledge, instinct and comparisons are all inherent in their life skills.

Alongside. Us Staff Nurses, who train damn hard through three years of the most emotional and technical draining-training you can imagine and, once qualified, have to keep learning and updating in an arena that has massive staff shortages and so…..Where do you find the time? Staff Nurses and HCAs? We are both vital to assisting and promoting the daily assessments involving considerations regarding patients who are in the midst of ‘changed experiences of living’.

What do we do when faced with the task of saying to people ‘Life,maybe, will not be as it once was…..or,hopefully, you will prove us wrong!’ This is by showing the patient that there are fundamental needs of abilities to either successfully carry on with living the life they always had experienced or……to consider…….but by re-evaluation of success within their current illness dilemma?…….they may not achieve. Whether rehabilitation to get back to the day to day life the patient once lived. Albeit stronger, weaker or very much ‘changed but need to get on with it’ reality. We work tirelessly to seek patient acceptance of the change reality or we accept the fact that, with all the will in the World, death is now actually a reality and so let’s face it full on with a ‘nod and let’s get real’ because we’re all in this and we’ll work through this the best way we can.

But actually? And reflecting our year in, year out experiences? So many choices. Not that Yes or No in reality. People do surprise you and overcome enormous ‘against’ odds. Seek to live life to the umpteenth degree and break out of jail with a new promise on their lips. Or simply give up because they are just ‘Oh so damn tired of it all now!’.


What I’m sick of is current perception of myself as a staff nurse. From many, many sources. Media, people’s conversations and off the cuff remarks. I am who I am and I try as I always did. Fundamentally? Let’s get real in all of this. The system has changed. It’s struggling because there are not enough nurses. The environmental change is definitely a reality. But……Inherently in the form of professionalism and trying to carry the same positive spirit into each daily shift at work? Changed? Have we or are we changed? I’d love to believe that I, and my colleagues certainly, ……….have not. So. As the Mad Hatter would say…..

“Tea anyone?”


  1. Well said Gray. I think you know that I really appreciate the staff nurses and ‘assistants’ and earlier this week I had even more reason to appreciate them. I’ve been quite ill, unable to eat and lost 10kg in a very short time. It turns out that the tube draining the liver to the bowel is blocked (recent CTI scan, ultrasound scan Monday followed by MRI on Tuesday). So it seems probable I will be in hospital for some surgery soon. But here’s the real story:
    The climb from Airedale hospital to the main road, where I usually park my car, is bad and having hardly eaten for a while I became very disoriented climbing after Monday’s scan. Appeared two good ‘samaritans’. They stayed with me in pouring rain despite just finishing their no doubt long and difficult shifts and, when I was able, supported me to the top of the climb. The young lady, who told me she was newly qualified, then stayed with me while the man went to fetch my car, still some distance away.
    The best medicine: after getting assurances from me that I could drive home, they each gave me a tight hug before I got in the car and drove off.
    Unfortunately in my state I didn’t ask their names and trying to to track them down next morning was fruitless. However I haven’t given up and I will find them as I know the wards in which they each were working.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Roger for your contribution here. Sharing openly and very personal as it is. I’m not going to try to think of words to type in a response. My thoughts are profound in reaction regarding your words. But, I need to say my feelings to your story are heartfelt. Look after yourself. Stay safe and keep on giving us your lovely insights. The future events re: surgery? I’ll be thinking of you.


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