Tag Archives: hospital

Stop The World

One of the blogs I have recently started to follow is The Kitchens Garden from Cecilia, a New Zealander now happily living in the US.  Her post today brought back memories of another time and place in my life.

Haven’t we all had a “Stop the world I want to get off” moment at some time in our lives?  Well mine was some 26 years ago – way back in 1986.  It was a beautiful summer morning a couple of weeks before Christmas in Blenheim in the South Island of New Zealand.  My dashing (well by then not so dashing or so young) young Scotsman was in hospital recovering from  a burst, undiagnosed duodenal ulcer.

As was my wont, I arrived at the hospital shortly after 8am to be greeted by the nurses with a strained smile.  By this time we were all on first name terms as he had been in the hospital for some six weeks, and I thought their strained greetings very odd.  I was also concerned because a couple of days before when I arrived, my husband wasn’t in his room and I discovered that they had punctured a lung while carrying out some procedure or other.  Of course at the time, I did know what the procedure was but it has taken itself off with so many other things over time.

Well, when I arrived at his room husband was sitting up in bed reading the daily newspaper.  He too looked a little strained I came in and so I asked the reason.  His response, after telling me to take a seat, was that our son had been admitted to hospital the night before with appendicitis. As we hadn’t a phone at the time (see Paradise, Phones and Phrustration) my son’s girl friend had called the hospital to pass on the news.

Now in other circumstances, I would have taken this in my stride.  But just then…  Not only was my darling in hospital in the South Island of New Zealand, but my Mother was in hospital in London, England and my Father in Law was in hospital in Dunoon in Scotland.  And now my son was in hospital in Wellington in the North Island of New Zealand.

That was really a “Stop The World” moment for me.  Fortunately, my son’s operation was straight forward and he was released on the same day as my husband was released from hospital.  And as my daughter had arrived home from London having been summoned by her brother, we managed a happy Christmas with the whole family in one place.

“Said Mr. Smith, “I really cannot
Tell you, Dr. Jones—
The most peculiar pain I’m in—
I think it’s in my bones.
Said Dr. Jones, “Oh, Mr. Smith,
That’s nothing. Without doubt
We have a simple cure for that;
It is to take them out…..”
From Bones by Walter de la Mare
1873 – 1956 English poet, short story writer
and novelist.

And now I am off to a mid-winter Christmas dinner.  Well it’s hard to take the turkey, ham and all the trimmings on a brilliant summer day.

Christmas dinner

Google image

Happy Christmas to you all

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Hats On Again

Two women on beach

They were so pleased to discover next morning that they still had on their hats.

Maisie was jerked awake by two rays of sunshine – one coming in the now opened curtains in the bedroom in which she had spent the night, and the other accompanied by a cheery “Good morning, Madam” and a cup of tea proffered by the redoubtable Mrs Amberley.

“And how is Madam this morning?” politely enquired Mrs Amberley and “What time would Madam like to have breakfast?”

It took Maisie a few minutes to reconcile where she was and what had happened on the previous day.  Added to her slight confusion was a rather heavy headache.  She put this down to sleeping in a strange bed with feather pillows conveniently forgetting the amount of alcohol that had been consumed the day before.

After Mrs Amberley left, Maisie drank the tea and then thought about the day ahead.  She would have to wear the same clothes that she had on when she arrived here.  Thankfully, she was unlikely to meet any of her set here; it would have been embarrassing to be seen in her afternoon dress before 1pm.

Climbing rather gingerly from the bed, she made her morning ablutions as best she could under the circumstances, although Mrs Amberley had one of the maids draw a bath for her.  She thankfully sank into the warm water before she remembered what had happened to Imogen the night before.

Where was Imogen now and what of Juliet?  She would get out of this soothing bath very soon and find Juliet and enquire about Imogen.

Duly refreshed from her bath she went in search of Juliet, whom she found seated at the dining room table with coffee, bacon and eggs, tomatoes and toast looking as if she had just stepped out of the beauty parlour.  Why hadn’t Maisie thought of availing herself of Imogen’s cosmetics?

“Good morning, Juliet” she said, “What news of Imogen?”  “Mr Amberley is telephoning the hospital this morning to find out how she is.” replied Juliet.  “Do you think we should advise Percy of the accident?”

“No I don’t think we should do anything until we know how she is.  And another thing, how are we to get home again if Imogen is laid low and can’t drive?”

“Oh goodness, I hadn’t thought of that” said Juliet.

Just then Mr Amberley came into the breakfast room.  “Lady Carruthers has rested well and can be picked up and brought home this morning.  I shall take the Bentley to get her.  Will you ladies be wanting to come with me or do you need a ride to an omnibus or a railway station, or shall you be taking the roadster?”

Of course, as neither woman drove taking the roadster was not an option.

“I don’t think we can leave without seeing Imogen, do you?” asked Maisie of Juliet.  So it was agreed that the two women would accompany Amberley to the local hospital to pick up their friend.

As soon as breakfast was finished the two women left the room and after checking that their hair was reasonably presentable and that they had their hats, they summoned Amberley and the Bentley.

But what would they find when they saw their friend?  Amberley had been less than communicative and so they rode in the back of the car in silence each thinking of likely outcomes of the accident.

Meantime, Mrs Amberley had been on the telephone to Sir Percy in London to advise him of the arrival of the three women and also of the accident that had befallen his wife.  She assured him that as soon as Amberley returned from the hospital with Lady Carruthers she would telephone him again at which time they could decide how to proceed.

Maisie and Juliet were delighted to see their friend looking none the worse for her accident except that she was sporting a black eye and the biggest bandage on her arm and shoulder that either of them had ever seen.  And she was not very pleased at having been left in the hospital overnight while her friends stayed at the house.  However, they quickly jollied her out of her bad temper and started to talk about the rest of the day.

It was obvious that Imogen was not going to be able to drive them home; Amberley would have if instructed to do so by his employer’s wife but the women decided that it would be an adventure to take an omnibus drive home.

omnibus

As none of them had ever been in an omnibus, this seemed like a hoot of an idea and all three eagerly agreed.

But first Amberley had to take his employer’s wife home so that she could make herself presentable for the journey and also so that Mrs Amberley could satisfy herself that all was well.

It was agreed that the Jaguar roadster should be housed in one of the outhouses until arrangements could be made for it to be picked up.  Imogen assured both Mrs Amberley and Amberley that she was fine and well enough to travel.

So after a refreshing cup of coffee the three women entered the Bentley once again for the short ride to the omnibus station.

The first hurdle was to determine which omnibus would take them close to where any one of them stayed and secondly what to do in the intervening half hour before it left.  That was easy.  There was a milliners close by and they decided that they each needed a new hat……

Chop Off Her Head er Leg

“Now, I give you fair warning, either you or your head must be off, and that in about half no time! Take your choice!”
from ‘Alice in Wonderland’

When I read Monica’s Tangled Web blog today I was taken back 62 years to a similarly, frightening experience.

On Saturday morning I woke with a sore knee. It felt hot but mother put a cold compress on it and told me all would be well.  The next morning I awoke and could hardly put my foot to the ground.  The knee was red and swollen.  Mother decided then that it needed attention.

We had no car so I had to hobble with her to catch a bus to the hospital some half hour ride away.  She obviously deemed it far too serious for the doctor’s office.

I don’t remember much of the ensuing hours while they tried to find out what was wrong with me.  I told them how I had fallen in the school playground earlier in the week and the staff had bathed and bandaged the knee.  The doctors determined that they hadn’t got all the asphalt chips out and so started poking around looking for the chips that they were convinced must still be in the leg.  I don’t remember, but hope that they gave me a local anesthetic prior to the digging.

Some time later and after much discussion among the doctors and then with my mother, it was decided that I had osteomyelitis an infection in the bone.  At the time there was no cure and my mother reluctantly, I hope, agreed that the leg could be amputated to prevent other bones being infected.

Can you imagine the terror  this 11-year-old girl felt when she was told by her mother that this is what was to happen, and fairly soon.  Fortunately, the surgeon came into the ward and told mother about a new, untried drug that was being tested.  Would she give permission for this drug to be used on her daughter.  She agreed and there began a six-week course of Streptomycin every three hours.

So my leg was put into a cast to keep it from moving and the cast was attached to a hoist.  As I have grown I have never worked out why it had to be attached to the hoist, but anyway..

So every 3 hours, night and day my poor little skinny backside was injected with this drug.

It was a scary and lonely time for me.  I was in a room on my own, maybe because they thought the infection was contagious (although that could not have been the reason) or the most likely reason was that they had to disturb me every 3 hours and wouldn’t want to wake any other patients during the night.

Mother, father and my sisters came to visit each day but at that time, visiting hours were very regulated and the staff really didn’t give much thought to a scared young girl laying there alone after the family had left.

I have no clear memory of any of the nurses – hey we are talking 60 plus years ago – but I am sure they all took care of me in ways they knew how.

But I do remember the night that the doctor came into the room.  Mother and the rest of the family had gone for the night.  In a kindly tone he asked if I would like him to release the hoist for the night.  Up until that time, the hoist was released only for short periods, bathing, lavatory trips etc.  I was overjoyed.  And then he told me that the plaster could come off the next day and they would then determine how well or if the treatment had worked.  So  although I was delighted that the hoist was released I was left alone with more scary thoughts.  I am sure that I spent most of that night in trepidation wondering what they would discover when they removed the cast.

I was in a fever the next morning.  Each time I heard footsteps coming towards my room I thought they were coming for me.  But they waited until mother could be there before removing the cast.  I remember looking at her and feeling that she was worried about the outcome too.

They removed the cast and apart from the look of  this sorry, wasted right leg, they pronounced all was well.  The Streptomycin had cured the bug infection and I could go home later that day.  Of course, I had a series of exercises to strengthen the leg and they had to be done several times a day.  I couldn’t go back to school until I had recovered some strength in the leg.  And so I spent some of the only days alone with my mother.  Always the other girls were there needing attention but here I was the only person she had to attend to in the hours in which the girls were at school.  I really enjoyed that time and look back on it with gratitude.

I had to take care not to knock the leg for a while, but I quickly forgot about it in the days when I went back to school and then there was the excitement of going to the grammar school and moving house.  Osteomyelitis, the possibility of losing a leg, six weeks in hospital were all forgotten as these things should be when one is only 11 years old.

I will always be grateful to that surgeon who offered the alternative to losing a leg.  I have not thought of him for many, many years and I never knew his name.  Obviously I thanked him when I left hospital but in later years, I could have made the time to find out his name and thank him properly.

And I have not often thought of it in the intervening years, with one exception.  My husband was seriously ill in hospital and I met a young couple with a child of about 11.  They had just been told that she had osteomyelitis and though they now had drugs with which to treat the infection, there was still a lot of dread connected with this disease.  I was happy to be able to assure them that the disease could be cured and told them own experience.  I like to think that I helped them in some small way.