Friday, March 16, 2007

John Nelson - 1947

John Nelson sent in this account:
Aberdare Monday 12 March 2007

"Idly using the laptop yesterday I typed 'craig-y-nos hospital' into Google, (strange that these words are still lodged in my memory after 60 years), and I was delighted and amazed to be taken back to my early childhood, such stories of so long ago…and I was there.

After visits to the clinic in Cathederal Road in my home town of Cardiff and scrutinising
the x-ray machine it was decided that I needed to go to Craig-y-Nos for a while, I was about 9 or 10 at the time.

I arrived some time in 1947 or 1948. My mother and I travelled from Cardiff and it took all day, the final leg of the journey being by bus (?) from Swansea.

I am amazed at the proliferation of photo's and memories from so many ladies on record, I cannot remember seeing or passing any of the fairer sex during my 15 months here apart from the nurses, possibly I was not observant enough. My recollections are of some boys but mainly
older men.
The ward I was in was just inside the balcony…plenty of fresh air inside and I was not envious of those consigned to the balcony. Their lives must have been hell in the winter, beds covered with a tarpaulin to save the bedding getting wet!

I would suggest that their lives where shortened by this primitive (“cruel“?) treatment…its more like death by mis-adventure. Thank the Lord that such harsh treatments have disappeared due to the advancement of medical science.

In my time there us youngsters were allowed onto the balcony and we would chat to the friendly bedridden who I think welcomed a fresh face.
Sometimes the person you had been talking to one day was not there the next day..…just an empty unmade bed! This happened too many times. It was a scary lesson to learn for someone of a tender age.

One other form of “cruel” treatment that upset me was the sputum check. A thin tube was passed up through a nostril where it then descended, passing the throat, into the stomach when a sample was siphoned off. The tube , when passing the sensitive throat area, always made me want to vomit.

I have no bad impressions of my stay at the Castle, the medical treatments were usual for the time and one can see now that they were rather primitive by the standards of today (to be polite).

I seem to remember that the BBC came to visit at one time and a programme was recorded,
whatever it was we were able to listen to it on the wireless.

The only regret I have now is that I cannot recall having any schoolwork at all during my stay. I later failed my 11 plus and I always put this down to this gap in my education. But perhaps I am not being fair here, it was 60 years ago and my memory is not first class. I hope to investigate this further through the link on the blog.

The question that has always intrigued me is the psychological effect of being parted from family and friends for such a long time, the strain on parents on having a child such a long distance away out of their control and the long term effect on the young immature patients.

I remember having a visit only once a month…a terrific wrench for both parent and child. For a parent to visit in my case meant a long days travel from Cardiff and back plus paying for the fares and they certainly were not rich.

After 15 months at the Castle I was moved to Highland Moors in Llandrindod, spending another 9 months convalescing, then back home to Cardiff.

T.B. is a great nuisance…after about 6 years it came back to annoy me for another two years, 18 months in Talgarth H block and then a little visit to Sully where they snipped out the naughty T.B. from my right lung. I enjoyed it at the seaside… was warmer than the Swansea Valley!"


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