Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Mr Broomhead's obituary

I came across this obituary at the Wellcome Trust Library some time ago. Fred and I thought it would make an interesting companion to the photo he posted a few days ago. It's from the British Medical Journal (Vol 288, 14 April 1984, p. 1170). The fact that his specialism was arthritis of the hip is relevant to Florence's experience.

"Mr R. Broomhead, formerly a consultant orthopaedic surgeon in Leeds, died on 3 February aged 81.

Reginald Broomhead was born in Beeston, Nottinghamshire, and was educated at Ackworth School before studying medicine in Leeds, graduating in 1925. He obtained the MRCS, LRCP in 1926 and the FRCS in 1927. At the Leeds General Infirmary he was house surgeon to Lord Moynihan. Attracted to orthopaedic surgery, he visited the clinics of Sir Robert Jones in Liverpool and Smith-Petersen in America to gain experience before becoming consultant orthopaedic surgeon to the Leeds General Infirmary at the age of 29. There followed appointments as visiting consultant to many hospitals over a wide area of the West Riding of Yorkshire. From 1946 he helped to develop the orthopaedic services at the Royal Bath Hospital in Harrogate. Always fond of children, he greatly enjoyed working at the Marguerite Hepton long stay hospital at Thorp Arch. In 1955 he left the Infirmary to go to St James’s Hospital, Leeds, where he worked until his retirement in 1967. In addition to his many hospital commitments he found time for a busy private consulting practice.

Mr Broomhead was largely instrumental in forming the Yorkshire Association for the Disabled, which, with minimal resources, opened St George’s House in 1952 for the young with chronic disabilities. For many years he was chairman and guiding spirit in this venture. Arthritis of the hip was his main surgical interest. After the war he travelled widely to study developing techniques and was one of the first to use the Smith-Petersen cup in Britain. Helped by engineering friends, he developed many new instruments, some of which are still listed in today’s catalogues.

Of his many other interests, the main one was cricket. It gave him great pleasure to be made a life member of the Yorkshire county cricket club, to which he gave his professional services for many years. He loved golf and was a regular player with a low handicap until recent years. He had a lifelong interest in music, playing several instruments; up to 1970 he regularly attended musical soirées in Leeds. He was a freemason and master at two lodges and achieved high mark in the order.

Doctors who were resident with Mr Broomhead still remember his kindness and consideration; to his postgraduate assistants his help was unstinted. His understanding and compassion for patients was a model for medical students. After retirement, he lived at Kipperford, where he developed a fine garden. He is survived by his wife Phyllis, a son, and two daughters. - JMF"

I wonder if the celebration in Fred and Andrea's photo was for his retirement??? If this jogs anyone's memory, do get into touch please.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Mr Broomhead's celebration??

Picture courtesy of Yorkshire Post Newspapers.

The other evening I was discussing Florence's sad experiences with Mr Broomhead with my wife Andrea. She said the name rang a bell and she was sure her late mother worked, as a housekeeper, for him in the late 1940s. Further she remembered a photograph her mother had been given by him and after much hunting around the photo came to light. It was taken by the Yorkshire Post or at least has a YP stamp on its reverse but is sadly not date marked.
The photo shows a celebration of some kind taken, it is thought, in Mr Broomhead's garden at his home in Adle, Leeds. Andrea's mother is seen standing at the very left of the picture. The questions are: does anyone recognise Mr Broomhead in the picture and what was the occasion, one obviously of sufficient importance to attract the Yorkshire Post. If you can answer either question or have anything to add please contact us via the blog email address.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

One last comment from Jane about Mr Broomhead's fusions

I was under Mr Broomhead, who performed a spinal fusion on me. I remember my parents telling me later on that the spinal fusion that I had was quite a new operation at the time, though I’m not sure about this – it might be worth checking it out historically. In my case, it worked very well – though the scar is a bit messy – and I wasn’t lame afterwards, like Florence, just a bit limited in what I could do. Maybe spinal fusions were easier to manage - after all, if you can't bend where the fusion is, you can bend a bit further up or down! So whilst I wasn't very supple, I could walk pretty well, play games (some better than others) and especially swim.

It might be useful to know, Florence, whether you arrived at MHH with rheumatic fever? Could you say a bit more about that when you have time?

Friday, 16 January 2009

Carole Reeves on conflciting surgeons' diagnoses

This is part of Carole's reply to Jane's query about putting up Florence's views on this. Jane had wondered whether this was rivalry between an experimental surgeon (Mr B) prepared to take risks, and a more conservative one (Mr P)who wasn't:

"As far as necessary or unnecessary surgery is concerned, I would have to do the research to determine whether these procedures were considered useful by the orthopaedic or rheumatology profession at the time and also in retrospect. She could have been part of a trial to operate or not operate, hence the selection procedure that she perceived to be biased towards private and non-private patients. But this is only guesswork on my part without seeking out the contemporary papers.

Basically, surgeons want to operate and physicians prefer to use 'conservative' management. Nowadays, it's unlikely that children with juvenile arthritis (I'm assuming this is what Florence had although she mentions rheumatic fever, which is a different thing, and the surgery carried on these patients was on the mitral valve in the heart, which is damaged by the bacteria causing rheumatic fever) would have surgery because the disease burns itself out and the management is always conservative - maybe with sparing use of steroids to reduce inflammation in severe cases. Also, they generally come under the care of rheumatologists (physicians) and not surgeons.

Hip fusion (arthrodesis) was a common procedure at the time for children with hip damage from inflammation or TB (both of which damaged the bone and cartilage of the hip ball and socket) and seemed to offer a means of restoring some degree of mobility and to reduce pain in the days prior to hip replacement. A number of our [Craig-y-Nos] TB children did have this procedure done, one of whom - Peter Wagstaff - went on to have quite severe spinal damage and now walks (with difficulty) with two sticks. So, I think possibly it was a case of therapeutic balance - balancing the long-term side effects of the operation with the effects of immobility and pain from joint damage. There could also have been personal rivalry between Broomhead and Pain (what a god awful name for a surgeon), which might be difficult to uncover without serious research."

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Comments on Florence's posting

Florence's memories give lots of food for thought! Is it right that you also went to a special school after hospital - as several of us did – Fred also had this experience, and a friend of his from the hospital days. I didn’t, though I don't know why. Maybe because there wasn't a suitable one near enough to where I lived (Pontefract), or maybe because my parents thought it would be best for me to go straight to mainstream school.

In fact I went to a local primary school – at the beginning wheeled there in a wheel-chair by my mother, then later I walked. That was quite difficult as I was different from the other kids. Not only couldn't run as fast, but I was still wearing a spika at the time, which because it prevented me from bending at the hip meant that if I fell I couldn't pick myself up on my own. Some people would help, others just stood over me and laughed. Probably they were embarrassed too, but it was very humiliating. To this day I’ve always been touchy about people coming to help me if I fall down in public, which has tended to happen from time to time, and more frequently since I had my hip replacement. I know they mean well, but I would ideally like to become completely invisible until I've been able to pick myself up and resume my imitation of being normal!

Often, like you, this makes me angry. And I think I was also a pretty unhappy teenager, too. You do a lot of comparing yourself with other people at that age, don't you, and I also think that because we had to learn to do lots of physical things rather deliberately we might have done more comparing than most. I moved awkwardly, and I hated my image in the mirror. Once the new free forms of dance (jive,cha cha, salsa and so on) came in and you didn't have to do the formal steps of fox-trot and waltz I really began to love dancing, but I was always too inhibited to trust myself and the rhythm of the music. As a wonderful Caribbean dance tune has it 'I feel it in mi waist' - but then my head gets in the way!

I found what you said about your family's reactions to your being in hospital really really interesing. I didn’t realise that sisters and brothers weren’t allowed to visit, though in fact several people mention it in their memories. It must have been very tricky on both sides, for them having to make space for a strange child who was supposed to be their sister, and for you having to find a space in the family.

I was my parents’ only child when I became ill, and they decided not to have any more while I was in hospital. They thought if I came home and found another child, I might assume I’d been replaced with a better model. Good psychology, I think now, though at the time I pestered my mother to have a brother or sister – preferably an older one!! By then I was 8, with my Mum coming up to 40 and probably not keen to start childbearing again. I wonder whether she might even have been quite relieved to be able to put off having another child – they’d had a lot of trouble having me.

There's a lot to say about the differences of opinion between surgeons, so I'll leave that till tomorrow.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Jane replies to Florence

Florence, I've contacted Carole about whether we can put such frank views up on the website, and her view is that of course we can. This is what she says:

"It's perfectly alright to put this up on the blog as it is. We have done the same with our [Craig-y-Nos] participants. It is, after all, Florence's experience and how she feels about it. That is historically acceptable and ethical. One of our ex-patients has written about being sexually abused by a ward sister whom she names and this is on the blog. The ward sister is still alive. One of our community workers - an ex-nurse herself, has attempted to make contact with her but without response so far. She hasn't sued us anyway! I wouldn't anonymise anything on a blog because the function of a blog such as yours and ours is to give a voice to the previously anonymous and to open up dialogue between others with similar experiences."

This is really helpful, and is what I personally think should happen. It also makes clear that none of us feel be inhibited about writing as we feel.

Florence Gill feels she suffered from surgeons' disagreeing diagnoses

Happy New Year! Let's hope it brings many new correspondents to the blog. The Wellcome Trust Foundation brochure Highlights is now out, which might bring in new people.

Here's the first posting of the year. Florence actually wrote towards the end of November, so I apologise for delay in posting her very interesting message. It became part of an interesting correspondence with Carole Reeves, so I decided to save it up and post the whole sequence.Here's part one!

"It’s some time since I last wrote to you about the Marguerite Hepton Hospital. I have written quite a lot in the rough and have been rewriting it to make it more legible. It takes me some time as my hand goes into cramps.

Cynthia says you were particularly interested in how you cope as a lame person and how you feel about one’s appearance. In hospital it didn’t enter my head as we only had mirrors for the head and shoulders. In the outside world you soon begin to know what it feels like to be different. Not school because most of us were in the same boat, but in the street and going out to work. Being made fun of, some copying your walk. People making remarks in your hearing as though we are deaf or unfeeling or a freak.

I didn’t take it lying down, if I could give them a slap I did, and I also developed quite a nasty bitter tongue and used it. I think I was rather an unhappy teenager. One boy used to follow me home and make fun of me. I did cry sometimes, but in a rage. I notice now when I am in a wheelchair people don’t look at you, it’s as if they don’t want to see you. I feel mad and angry even now as there was no need for the operation as I later found out.

When I recovered from the rheumatic fever I was put under Mr Broomhead and Mr Pain. Mr Pain told my parents to take me home to rest but Mr Broomhead had me put on the Thomas frame and sent to Thorpe Arch. He then told my parents if I had this hip fusion then I could go home sooner. No mention was made of the fact that this op would cripple one and cause damage to the lower spine, but he knew it would because when he asked his students what would be the outcome if the op went ahead one student said spinal damage. The doctors discussed this round my bed and I heard it. They think children don’t understand but I did.

I’ve already said we went to the LGI for operations at that time, and Mr Broomhead was ill, so nothing happened for a while, and then they sent me down to theatre and Mr Pain was operating and when he came out to see who was next he came to me and looked at my case notes, threw them down on my trolley and told the nurse I didn’t need an operation and to send me home. I would just like to say when he came out his apron was all bloody.

Much later, Mr Broomhead came back and I went down to theatre again. Two nurses came with the mask they put over my nose and began pouring the ether on and telling me to count to a hundred. I thought if I held my breath it wouldn’t work so I did, but I took the off my nose and threw it across the room. I fought, kicked and struggled but went down fighting until I knew no more.

The ending to this part of the story came with the forming of the NHS. I’ve more or less been having check-ups at the LGI since I was fourteen, and I saw a new specialist and he told me these hip operations were no longer needed and should not have been done in the first place. I was enraged and up to a point still am.

One other thing that makes a different to one on arrival home after five years was how one’s sisters and brothers react to you. When I got taken away I had two sisters and a brother, and one born while I was away. They were never allowed to visit so they didn’t really know me and for many years I felt an outsider apart from my brother; he was only eight on my homecoming but he was very welcoming.

There were quite a few private patients and they never seemed to have operations so I have to think we were guinea-pigs. My close friend Hetty Bryan felt the same way to me. We were in touch occasionally until her death some time ago.

I’m not too sure about this article being put on the computer. What do you think? Have you had anyone saying anything similar?