Friday, March 30, 2007

Christine Thornton (nee Davies) - 1944-48 and 1952-53

Christine is nearest the camera.

I try and encourage former patients to write their own story.
This is Christine's personal account of her time in Craig-y-nos.

Going into hospital
“I was taken ill before my 8th birthday and was admitted to Swansea General hospital. I was a patient there for sometime before I was transferred to Craig-y-nos.

My illness was caused by TB in the glands of my stomach. My treatment as I remember was complete bed rest.

As time went on I became aware of a pain in the upper half of my right leg especially when I was jumping around in my bed as children do, I cant remember when it was that Dr Huppert came to Craig-y-nos but I do remember her doing the rounds and when it was my turn to be examined I remember screaming out with pain because she couldn't straighten my right leg.

Iron frame
I was taken for an x-ray which showed I had TB in my hip which was quite serious. I was put onto an iron frame which I can only describe as follows:

the leg parts were similar to two callipers with a bar across the middle splaying my legs outwards, the calliper parts were attached to a straight piece covered in something like vinyl and this made up the iron frame. My legs and body were strapped down to this frame and my only movement was of my head from side to side, and both my arms were free.


It was difficult for some parts of my body to be washed and despite being rubbed with metholayted spirits. I did get bedsores and I still have the scars today.

Plaster casts and callipers
I remember being very ill with my TB hip. the dr told my mother I might not survive and if I did it was unlikely that I would ever walk again. I was quite some time on the iron frame but I did make progress and eventually I was put into as plaster cast that covered my right leg and my body up to my under arms. Then after some time spent like that I had a calliper fitted from ankle to thigh on my right leg. At last the rest of my body was free. I was taught to walk again and I eventually went home. I was 14 before I could walk without the calliper.

Two relapses
When I was 17 years of age I was once again a patient in Craig-y-nos this time with TB of the lung. I did have a relapse of TB in my lung about 3 years later but I was treated with drugs at home this time.

My working life
Despite my loss of schooling while at Craig-y-nos and the life long disability of my TB hip I did manage to learn a lot and ended up doing some really good jobs. Many people today cringe when they know of my treatment for my TB hip but its what worked in those days and I am thankful to have survived such a dreadful illness.

On the balcony in the 1947 snow“Most of my childhood in Craig-y-nos was spent out on the balcony. I was the only patient on an iron frame, two girls were on plaster beds and a few were in callipers.

We were on the balcony in the snow of 1947. We had tarpaulin sheets on our beds to keep the snow off and we had vaseline rubbed into our faces to stop us from chapping.

The nurses were wonderful, although they must have been freezing they did their best to keep us cheerful. The cold was the best cure for TB in those days.

Children dying
On occasions that I spent in the ward I remember that some patients were not in their beds in the morning and when we asked the nurses where they were they told us they had gone home but we all knew they had died and although we were all very sad they were not mentioned again. The beds were soon taken up by new patients.

Going out
I remember times in Craig-y-noss when we were taken out. Once we went to see a show in Swansea. I think it was at the Grand. They put a board over two or three seats on the bus that took us and the same in the theatre and my iron frame was laid on to this board.

Trip to the seaside
Another time I remember going to the “slip” part of Swansea Bay. I believe I was in my calliper this time and I remember lots of people gathered around us just looking and smiling.
We often had shows in the theatre of Craig-y-nos.

Death in the “Six-bedder”
The second time I went to Craig-y-nos I was in the “six bedder” and the six of us got on very well together.
One girl did die and it was a very very sad time for us.

We played games like “I spy” and once we had a seance at midnight. We all got out of bed for this and the screeching of the glass across the glass topped table frightened us so much we never did did again.

Cold bedpans
We often teased the nurses and played some tricks on them and they got their own back by giving us cold bedpans which were made of steel in those days.

Graded time up
Once we had finished our course of streptomycin which took about 9 months we were allowed up gradually. At first it was half hour in the chair then toilet walk, followed by 1 hour out of bed. When it got to two hours out of bed we could get dressed and walk around and then three -four hours increasing to all day when we could go out in the grounds for a little walk.

Dusting duties
We also helped with the dusting- light duties to get our strength back before going home.

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