Friday, July 20, 2007

Pat Hybert (née Mogridge), age 19, 1952 -1953

Mari and Pat on the stag

"I went into Craig-y-nos in December. It was snowing, and very, very cold, and I was disappointed going in then but there you are, we were all in the same boat up there .

We missed a lot of teenage years, didn’t we in those days?
But still, I was very lucky anyway. I’d had treatment before I went in … streptomycin … so it was only a case of bedrest. When I hear them complaining about hospitals these days, they were quite dragons, the sisters there then,
especially one of them.
I always remember, we had a relief sister on at one time and I was, at the time, able to get up, and she said, ‘Well, you can dress.’ And, of course, the other sister had always said we couldn’t dress. And when she found out that I had been dressed this day, she wasn’t very pleased about it.
We were like a lot of children in school really.
There was one particular woman, Sister Williams, and we had a very nice nurse there, a nurse Davies.

Pat in the "Six-Bedder"

I’m seventy-five this year and we did wonder whether we’d all reach that age at that time. I thought, well, when you went in you really thought it might have been the end of you after a bit because, I mean, people were still dying of it when we were in there then.
And there were a lot of them in a bad way, but, as I say, we were very fortunate. There was a young lady in the next bed to me. Well, she did sign herself out. I can remember a Joyce Rees and I know she died so she couldn’t have been very old but she did have one child.

I was in the “Six-bedder,” (Adelina Patti’s former bedroom) and in the next ward was the children’s ward.

I can remember being in there when it snowed in the winter and they had ground sheets on the beds nearest the window. It would be freezing. And the children wonder why I can’t stand the heat now. It’s terrible being in a room with everything closed up.
Well, I think it toughened us up.

Did you have any brothers and sisters who had TB?
No, I found out afterwards that my father had had it, and he was in Talgarth, but he got over it and he was in his late seventies when he died.

But, on the whole, it wasn’t too bad I suppose (Craig-y-nos) when you look back. We had some fun there as well.
What sort of fun?

Well, we used to have a bit of entertainment with film shows. We’d have films in the cinema, in the Adelina Patti Theatre.

Harry Secombe

I can remember Harry Secombe coming there, that was on the Christmas, but I wasn’t allowed to go because I got out of bed and I shouldn’t have done. Now I wouldn’t have taken it, but I suppose at the time you just did as you were told.

Yes, we were very naive really compared with these days. We did miss a lot of things in life, I suppose, by being there. I mean, we couldn’t go dancing after you came out.
You had to be careful what you were doing. Well, I was very wary of what I was doing afterwards, I was having check-ups then still, for years.

And you’ve remained fit and well?
That’s right

I remember a lot of the children.There was one little girl in particular. She lived down in Gorseinon, not far from me. Norma, I think her name was. Norma Pearce, and I often wonder what happened to her because she must have only been nine, but the children used to write letters to us in the six-bedder ward. They sort of befriended us, sort of thing. Yes, everybody had a sort of pen pal.
We couldn’t go in and see, and I remember my husband (as he later became) used to creep round the door to go in and see her.
And I often think of that.

What about the food there?
Oh, don’t ask. It was diabolical. I can always remember. There’s only one or things I don’t like, and one of them is porridge. And I can always remember them coming round, the first day I was there with this porridge for breakfast. It looked disgusting, and she said, ‘Oh, you’ve got to eat it. You’ve got to eat the food.’
‘Well,’ I said, ‘If I never go out of here, I am not eating porridge.’ And I did stand by that. I thought I could never eat it, and I used to think then, I can always remember … and when I see people eating porridge, it always reminds me of that. Lumpy. And parsley sauce, the same. That used to come round.

No, the food wasn’t all that clever there. I remember they used to give us a lot of milk to drink, thinking that would do us good. Well, of course, we all put on a tremendous amount of weight, didn’t we? I was up to nine stone when I was in there. My normal weight was eight stone four. But it soon came off once you started walking about. But the food wasn’t very good. I can remember we always used to be glad when weekends came and the family came with something to eat. Something decent.
I had a friend living in Abercraf, as it happened, not far from Craig-y-nos, and her mother used to make the most delicious Welsh cakes. She always had a box of them, and I used to share these Welsh cakes. We were always so glad when my friend came up with a box of Welsh cakes. But, you know, things like that you appreciated. And when family came in, of course, you always had nice sandwiches of some sort. No, the food (in Craig-y-nos) was pretty grotty there but anyway, we all survived it.

Edgar, the gardener, rowing some of the girls on the lake

Visit to the dentist
I can remember going to the dentist because I had a bad tooth. When I came back up to the ward I thought, ‘Well, he hasn’t taken the tooth out that he should. He’s taken the next one out, twit.’
I couldn’t believe it. I said to one of the girls I could feel this tooth, and of course, my mouth had been dead, and I said, ‘Which tooth has gone?’ I thought he was taking the two front teeth out because one had gone anyway. He’d taken the one next to it so I had two gaps.
He took this other one out and of course I had to wear false teeth, I couldn’t eat anything when I had these two false teeth on a plate.
I came home and when my dentist saw them, he said, ‘Oh, I can’t believe this. I can’t believe what I’m seeing.’ He said, ‘I’ve never seen such awful teeth (the false ones). I remember trying to eat crisps or something once, and I thought, ‘Oh, my God, they’ve taken the wrong teeth out.’ When I got home, I had to have my teeth done.
Never mind, I survived. So, that was another episode up there.

When they said I was going for sputum tests, I was frightened to death. But they used to say, well they do this or they do that or you get the magic eye, you know, and I used to think, ‘Oh, please don’t let me have anything like that.’
What was a magic eye?
I don’t know whether that was to check your lungs or whatever. No idea.
(Could have been a bronchoscopy – Carole)

Dr Huppert

We had the Austrian doctor, Huppert or Hubbard or something. We used to call her Dracula. She used to come round with her load of blood tests. When we heard her coming, I used to think, ‘Oh dear, she’s coming for blood again.’ But, ah dear, dear.

How often did you have to have blood tests?
I don’t remember. I think we used to have them pretty regular. There was Dr Huppert and there was a Dr Williams. He was very nice, but she was a good doctor, I suppose.

The streptomycin affected my hearing. I’m completely deaf in one ear now, but I could feel my ears tingling and I remember, telling the doctor, and they had a look in my ears and things to see if they wanted syringing, but I don’t think they were very interested, really. All they were interested in was getting you cured.
But anyway, it was a small price to pay, I suppose, for being fit and well again, isn’t it?

I had a job before I went in. I came back out in the June, and I think I was home for about six months. They told me my job was still open, luckily. I worked in an office and they let me go back part-time. They were very good.

How many children did you have?
Two. The girl is forty-seven now and the boy is forty-five.
And I’ve just had a new grandchild, a little boy, and I’ve got another two grandsons. One is fifteen and the other one’s five.

On the whole Craig-y-nos wasn’t too bad when you look back. "

Pat Hybert was interviewed by Dr Carole Reeves, Outreach Historian, the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, University College London.

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