Thursday, 31 July 2008

Fred responds to Rowland Jagger's account.

Rowland was a patient during the time I spent at MHH, 1950 to 1952 and we are of the same age. He has awakened in me memories that I had long since forgotten or perhaps I had managed to shut them out where he has struggled. I found reading his account to be both heartrending and disturbing. I don't believe my life was scarred by the experience but it has had a lasting impact on me. I find it easy to withdraw into myself and am content with my own company. I am almost compulsively independent and find it extremely difficult to ask others for assistance, I need to be in control. Oddly enough I feel very comfortable being this way, confident that whatever life throws at me I can deal with and there have been challenges to face as is the case for everyone. I believe this resilience stems from the time at MHH.

Hospital antiseptic I remember as ether, but I've always liked the smell, can't say the same for the boiled cabbage but I don't mind the smell of methylated spirits even now. I cannot remember protesting too much against being strapped down in my frame but I do remember, when I first arrived, hoping that they weren't going to strap me down in one of those things.

Yes I have memories of unkindness, sometimes being subjected to mental cruelty but in my case it had the effect of hardening me up, if I kept my head down and didn't make a fuss, withdrawal I suppose, I could get by without becoming the centre of some nurses anger.

Looking back I remember the good times more readily than the bad, maybe my "conditioning" was more effective than Rowland's e.g. I cannot leave food on a plate and will eat most of what is in front of me even if I don't like the taste and maybe I began to believe I was "too big to cry". I suspect Rowland's will was probably more resistant than mine and he remembers the struggle more because of it.

I wonder how Rowland feels about the medical profession today, I have had to return to hospital for major surgery on a couple of occasions, admittedly they don't keep you in quite so long these days, but I had few fears of the surgery and only warm memories of the way I was treated by all the medical staff attending me. Even today I attend outpatient clinics and almost look forward to them, certainly without any trepidation.

Finally I wonder if Rowland had the same disorder I had, Perthes disease. It is a condition affecting the hip joint and my treatment was exactly as described by him down to regular x-rays and hip manipulation. I was completely cured, physically anyway, by my hospital stay. Length of stay was dependent upon how far the joint had worn before diagnosis and how quickly the hip ball joint recovered, in his case considerably quicker than mine. I am not entirely sure complete mobility would have been restored with TB and await someone more knowledgeable to correct me.

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