Thursday, 22 May 2008
Monday, 19 May 2008
Friday, 16 May 2008
Not remembering names is very common. It is rare to come across anyone who can reel off names of people they knew in hospital as children. I had one the other day and I was amazed. She could remember 20 names of girls she was in with.
I mentioned Ann's view in an email a little while ago, and Harry made this very interesting comment, from Malcolm I think:
Ann is quite correct. I recall nothing of the other boys and although I can remember a few things some of the nureses did, this is because such acts were out of the norm. I remember absolutely nothing of what anyone looked like. In fact, as I said in an earlier email, whilst at MHMH I tried to run away with another boy and I cannot recall his name or even what he looked like. I believe that this is because each day and each month and each year was the same as the one before with nothing out of the ordinary to recall. Everything blurs in ones mind.. One does remember a few events out of the norm, or at least part of the event. I recall the erection of the dove cote. The bombs, my operation, and a few of the many visits my parents made but very little else.
Any other ideas? Did we just live an awful lot in our imaginations, then when reality got a bit more interesting just forgot all that, like a dream?
Wednesday, 14 May 2008
On one occasion we arrived off duty in the sitting room to find notes on all the best chairs saying 'Reserved'. As it happened Matron Downs had followed us into the room and asked what all this was about. We explained that these were the senior nurses' seats. 'Nonsense' she shouted, and ripped up all the notes and left. We still knew not to sit on those seats or risk a 'cold bath' fully clothed in possibly our last clean uniform. Cold baths were the 'norm' for any nurse stepping out of line.
Nurses on Ward 2 (Big Boys), left to right Rosie Ward, Dorothy Johnstone, ??, Christine English, and Val Tanner. There were nurses came from Rothwell hospital for some of their training I wonder if they will see the blog and join in.
Another person recalled sleeping under the verandah. This was the 'norm' for any bots on ward 2,(Large boys.)However they wore wind-jammers and balaclavas and were allowed hot water bottles.The staff had to make the beds on the verandah even when it was snowing and we were not allowed to wear cardigans. We were treated the same as the patients. I do not recall any member of staff going down with TB!
Does anyone remember when it snowed.The nurses would clear a path to the ward to help Joff get the meal trolleys in and the snow we cleared was used for snowball fights. The beds were covered with long mackintoshes and snow piled on the boys chests. They were supposed to wait for the signal to start but I believe that was just in theory. It certainly never happened in practice! When the battle was over the boys were taken into the wards for a bath and breakfast.
Saturday, 10 May 2008
I recall Matron Lodge although I had not remembered her name. I remember the nurses making sure that none of us boys made the slightest mess of our beds until she had done her morning round. I also have memories, now that you
mentioned it, of the dentist. I remember most vividly having an extraction and spitting blood and bits of tooth whilst bawling away. I must have been seven or eight at the time. Since that day I have been terrified of going to
the dentist, even when I knew that I had no dental problems and would not require any work done.
I was pleased to hear that perhaps Matron Downs may add to the blog as I was a patient when she took over. I wonder if she recalls the two boys that tried to run away. As it was a long time ago my memories of it are a little vague but I would love to hear an account of that day from one of the staff that was there that day.
Another thought I have was much later, when as theatre nurse I had to attend the dentist once a month when he made his rounds of the ward. I had to carry a hideous treadle machine to which the dentist applied his drills and brushes in order to 'treat' the patient.All I can remember is the dentist shouting,' Faster nurse, treadle harder!' I just hope that the treatment was de-scaling and cleaning and not for fillings! Poor children.
Here are some more photographs which may jog some memories. The first one is me (Cynthia) with an ex-patient on the playing fields where all the beds were pushed to for visiting time.
The second is an ex-patient with Zoe Weddall's rabbit Sandy,which as theatre nurse I had to groom and exercise daily.(As you would expect!).
Finally number three. Someone mentioned children having head bars when their disease was high in the spine and they could not be trusted to lie still! Poor little things. The girl on the right has one of these attachments.
As you can see she was a happy little thing and didn't seem unduly worried with the restriction. I did wonder if Yvonne may remember this girl as she was still at MHMH when I left in 1958 and as you can imagine had some time to go before discharge.
Wednesday, 7 May 2008
Gerald Appleyard was the hospital's last nursing officer.
Margaret Vicars, nee Rhodes
Monday, 5 May 2008
I worked at MHMH from November 1956 to May 1958 as near as I remember. At that time we still nursed many bovine TB cases on plaster beds and Jones abduction frames depending on whether spine or hip was involved, but we had no 'open' chest cases with positive sputum results etc. Many of the children by then were 'old polio' cases following the 1947 and '52 outbreaks and in need of corrective surgery. There were also cases of cerebral palsy, osteomyelitis, and congenital problems such as hydrocephalus and spina bifida.
The introduction of antibiotics had a miraculous effect on many infectious diseases. TB. of course responded so well to streptomycin and then the non antibiotic treatment with INAH and PAS. If you remember these you will know how unpleasant they tasted but thay saved so many lives and shortened the hospital stay for so many others. During my stay at MHMH Zoe Weddall was sister in charge of ward one girls ward as you know. She was also theatre sister and duputy Matron. I had the priviledge of working as her theatre nurse for six months before moving on to
Visiting was still restricted to once a week during my time. I remember the large red buses wobbling down the drive and all the boys on the verandahs sending up a huge cheer.The nurses then had to set about pushing the children in their beds, a-topped with plaster beds or frames up to the playing field and the childrens park. Those who only wore calipers or had arms in plaster would come hurtling down the slide or being sick as they spun off the spider round about. Health and safety would have a fit today but I never remember any accidents. We nurses even took the more mobile children for walks in the village on the river bank!! Happy days.
I was still around when these were completely lifted to allow visiting at any time and as long as desired. This too created its own problems. Visitors turned up early morning with flasks and food and remained for hours!!!!! We thought it would wear off but unfortunately this was not the case and we had patients becoming constipated by trying not to have bed pans whilst visitors were present! I could go on but I think you get the picture!
A compromise was reached in most hospitals but how that works now I'm not at all sure, but nothing is ever simple. One family when I was at MHMH got round the visiting quietly by organising a scout group. They of course had weekly meetings and the parents were the leaders and so managed mid-week visiting as well as weekends. I have to say they had some very therapeutic activities and made blankets which were sold at the Summer Fete so it wasn't as selfish as might first appear. The revenue contributed towards extras for the hospital.
I wonder if anyone recognises himself from this photo of Miss Downs with the scout troupe?
Matron, Miss ME Downs, was in charge of the hospital when I was there. You would probably know her because according to some annual reports I've read she was there very early on and certainly took the home through the difficult period of change from a self-supporting project to the NHS.
[Note from Jane: Cynthia is also researching the history of the hospital]
01 May and 04 May
Some of my memories are quite specific and distinct but there are other things that I don’t remember at all. For instance I seem to have no recollection of the different wards and can only recall a couple of the other patients. Presumably this is because as we were confined to bed for the duration and so our horizons were limited, both physically and metaphorically.
My treatment consisted of being in traction the whole time, as opposed to a frame or having legs in splints. I had lengths of elastoplast attached to the inside and outside of each leg and at the bottom of each strip was a loop through which cord was passed. This cord then went through the bottom of the bed on pulleys and there were heavy weights attached to the end of it. How primitive that sounds now!
The staff I can remember were Sister Fidler (a very kind, reassuring lady), nurse Val Robson who I thought was wonderful and did so much to make my stay there as happy as possible, and other nurses Woodhead, Huddleston, and Rennie. I often wonder what happened to them all, especially nurse Robson. I used to have an autograph book which was signed by lots of the nurses, most of them putting in a little rhyme or saying, but this was lost many years ago which is a shame, particularly in the light of this research into the hospital. Looking back I think most of the nurses would have been aged about 17 (would that be right?).
Specific memories I have include:
- nights sleeping on the verandah
- film shows on the ward
- the open prison across the road – there was an occasional security alert when a prisoner absconded
- the nurses holding a dance in the hut on the other side of the drive
- a number of us boys having bows and arrows. We used to fire the arrows (which had rubber suckers on the end) at the ceiling (and occasionally at each other) on the ward and see how long they would stay up there. On visiting days my parents would wheel me up to the playing field where we could fire proper arrows much further, resulting in a lot of exercise for my dear old mum who had to retrieve them!
- visiting was at the weekend and on Wednesdays, I think.
I suspect I will remember more as other comments on the blog will act as a prompt, and as my mother is still alive I will ask her what she remembers.
04 May 2008
I visited the site two or three years ago and it was being turned into a housing estate. I felt quite sad when I saw that! I believe it was used as an old folks home after the hospital closed.
03 May 2008 11:32