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.