At the beginning of 1949, I went into hospital for removal of adenoids and tonsils. This should have been a straightforward procedure but a couple of days after the operation, I came out in spots. Tonsil and adenoid operations in those days meant a week in hospital, but the senior matron suggested to my mother, that it would be better if I was taken home, because of the measles diagnosis. Because it is infectious, they preferred me to be out of the hospital. I was duly packed up, taken home and put to bed, feeling terrible. An hour later, the phone rang and it was our doctor asking what was I doing at home; he and the specialist had been up all night trying to find out what was wrong with me! Mum said that she had been told that I had measles and that it was better that I should be taken out of the hospital. I remember not long after that, the doctor arrived at the house and said that under no circumstances should I be moved again, until they had found out the cause of the spots. I suspect that the hospital matron may have been severely reprimanded for sending me home without consulting the doctor! Many blood tests later, the doctor left and on his return the following day, I had gone downhill to such an extent that the decision not to move me was reiterated and Mum was to be be on 24 hour nursing duty. It was thought that a trip back to the hospital would set me back even further. The spots were duly diagnosed as being caused by blood poisoning and it had spread throughout my body. The next few days were a blur of doctors and injections and according to my mother, at one time she was told that I had only 24 hours to live. At this stage a new wonder drug was suggested, rarely used before and it was considered to be my only chance. I am led to believe that it was an antibiotic that had only just come on the market, possibly a penicillin derivative, but I do not know that it was. My mum always told me it was M & B, but as this is a trade name, I presume that it was one of their latest products. I need hardly add here that it worked the desired miracle or this story would never have been written.
|Mum, myself and David on holiday in Lugano, Switzerland 1950. My first step on the road to recovery.|
During this same period, a swelling had come up on my neck, eventually diagnosed as a TB gland. Because of my earlier blood poisoning, the doctors could not operate, and only when the antibiotics took effect and I was on the road to recovery, was I finally moved back to hospital for the operation on the gland. At this time, my mother owned a beautiful Persian cat which also picked up TB and although the local vet fought valiantly to cure it, finally the disease took over and the cat passed on. I understand that there were a number of local enquiries after this and the supplier of our home milk had his business closed down!
By the time I was finally back on my feet, it was almost the end of 1949 and I had missed a year of schooling. Mr and Mrs Hopes from The Collegiate had been in constant touch and towards the end of the year, my parents took me on a visit so I could meet up with them once more. Unfortunately the drugs administered to me had left me with a weak heart and it was decided that I could not return to boarding school. I needed to be closer to home and under observation, so I was sent to The Convent in Bath where I could receive constant care and attention. Life was pretty miserable, as all the staff and prefects had been informed of my condition and if anyone should see me run as much as two steps, I was shouted at! I was not allowed to play games or do anything that may cause tiredness or over-exertion. I was not even allowed to ride Meggy, my pony!
|Dad, myself and David at Lugano 1950. Same position as above, but on a different day, I presume, judging by the change of clothes. Not sure what happened to our smiles here - quite a serious photo!!|