From a very early age, Marlyss knew that she wanted to be a nurse. When she was just a small child, she can remember looking through the Eaton’s catalogue and picking out a nurse’s kit. She told her parents that she did NOT want anything else for Christmas and if she wasn’t going to get her nurses kit then she did not want any presents at all. The kit proved to be quite special because she still has it to this day. She remembers that when she was little her sister did not want to play dolls with her because Marlyss always had her dolls sick so that she could take care of them. This did not interest her sister and told her that playing with sick dolls was no fun!
Marlyss attended St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon for her training. Back then it was a 3-year program with only 2 weeks off in the summer. During training, she had a particularly ‘hard’ head nurse. Marlyss said that she held her students to very high expectations but looking back, she is grateful for this teacher as it pushed her to be the best she could. When Marlyss completed her Registered Nurse training, she, and her new husband Lou, set off to take on the world. Lou and Marlyss moved to Lloydminster in August of 1959. At that time, they were desperate for nurses. Marlyss received a job offer and was told she could start the next day if she pleased. Marlyss started working in medical but in those days, you were rotated through surgery as well as pediatrics. She enjoyed working in all departments as a nurse, but her true passion was in the OR. When an opening came up for a part time OR nurse, she jumped on the opportunity. This fit their schedule at the time because Lou and Marlyss were also raising 3 kids. When her kids were in school full time, Marlyss accepted a full-time position as an OR nurse.
Marlyss had the opportunity to work with several well-known doctors in the Lloydminster area. Dr. Hemstock was one of them. Marlyss speaks highly of Dr. Hemstock and said that he was truly as kind and patient as he appeared to be. His patients loved him and all of them were important to him as he always did his best to go above and beyond for them. Marlyss speaks of a time when Dr. Hemstock required some medical attention of his own. She got called back into the OR because she was a trusted friend when the incident happened. Dr. Hemstock had cut his hand on his lawnmower and was feeling quite foolish and embarrassed about the whole thing. Marlyss chuckled as she told the story because of his insistency of how thoughtless he had been to get his hand cut! Marlyss was there on the day of Dr. Hemstock’s last surgery. She remembers him with tears in his eyes as he was going to miss his job dearly.
Marlyss and her co-workers always found a way to laugh. On one particular incident, a fellow nurse came to her in frustration because one of her patients did not want to drink his juice. This nurse had come to Marlyss for help because she was at her wits end and did not know how to get this individual drink his juice. Marlyss being the helpful person that she is, told her co-worker that she would go in and try. One step into the room and a glance at the “juice” and Marlyss knew why the drink was not going down. This patient could not talk and therefore could not express to the other nurse that it was NOT juice in the glass but instead urine. Thankfully, Marlyss picked up on the situation right away and saved the poor man from drinking his own urine.
Marlyss did most of her nursing in the old hospital in Lloydminster. She remembers moving to the new hospital and her and her co-workers packing up their station wagons with supplies that they did not want to get lost or broken in the move. Talk about dedication to your job!
Marlyss found enjoyment in the operating room because it was always something different and challenged her. She also enjoyed working so closely with the doctors and gaining experience through their expertise. Marlyss and the crew she worked with always went above and beyond to ensure that the doctors had everything they needed to preform a successful surgery. Marlyss holds dear to her heart all the people that she got to work with over the years and the cases that she got to experience. As must nurses, she has several stories of interesting things that took place in the OR. She laughs about some and cries about others. In 1990 Marlyss retired from full time nursing. She truly cherished her job and the people she worked with. Without a doubt, those who were privileged enough to have her as their nurse cherished her too.