Monday, October 15, 2007

RENEE (nee Griffiths) BARTLETT -1945-46

Renee, age 10, with her sister.

MEMORIES OF RENEE (nee Griffiths) BARTLETT aged 6 -7 years as a patient at Craig-y- Nos Hospital in approximately 1945.

Discovering I had TB
"I became unwell aged approximately 5 years of age suffering from frequent bouts of tonsillitis which eventually was also diagnosed as pleurisy. My grandmother was rather concerned and persuaded my mother to have me checked by the family doctor.

He referred me to a clinic in London Road Neath. From there I was referred to Cimla hospital where I had many ex rays and a shadow on the lung was diagnosed. My mother was advised to keep me in bed for complete rest. This she found very difficult and eventually they recommended I be admitted to Craig-y-Nos sanatorium. My parents took me there by bus which consisted of one to the centre of Port Talbot, one to Neath and then one to Ystradgynlais.

Introduction to life in Craig-y-nos
I spent over a year there only seeing my parents on the first weekend of each month. The lady in charge of my ward was a Sister Morgan who was very, very strict. If she had her way she would have stopped all visiting as she thought it upset the children too much. She also could not understand why my parents gave their welsh daughter a french name.
I remember some patients were out on the veranda even in the middle of winter but I was never put there.

End of the war
There was great excitement on the day they announced that the war was over, we had a pillow fight and I fell out of bed and had a nose bleed.
On one of the visits – my mother brought be a tin of welsh cakes and biscuits which had to be shared with all the other patients on the ward. I remember there was one chocolate biscuit which was left for me but the last child before me took it, I was very disappointed.
Another visit I remember was my mother's brother Roy and his girlfriend Molly. They were allowed to see me even though it was not the fIrst weekend of the month because they were on leave from the forces and were in uniform. They brought me a banana, which I had never seen before, it was delicious.

The fIrst weekend in November 1945 my father came to visit me on his own. The reason he gave for my mother not being able to come was that she had been shouting at my sister Jean and had dropped her false teeth and broken them. The real reason was that she and my sister together with my grand mother my aunt Edna, and Evelyn had gone to Taunton in Somerset for the wedding of their brother Roy to Molly.

I remember going in to the theatre at Christmas time to receive a gift from Father Christmas. I was given a sock which had an apple, a tangerine some nuts and dried fruit in it. I also remember having a doll there but when I left the hospital I was not allowed to take it home with me.
The abandoned child
I can only remember one other patient there, her name was Lorna. I do not remember if she was older or younger than me but she had been abandoned there. No one ever came to visit her.
Other memories
Other memories I have of Craig-y-Nos was taking walks in the garden and feeding the swans on the lake. Sister Morgan taking me to her room on the top floor and sitting at her dressing table watching her brush her very long hair which she kept tied up in a bun under her sister's hat.

Renee ouside her home, age 10.

Attempt to run away from Craig-y-nos
I do not ever remember being mistreated but I wasn't very happy being away from my family. I would ask my mum and dad to take me home every time they visited me. Anyway I devised a plan to run away from the hospital and persuaded Lorna to come with me. I used to hear a clock striking the hour at night and about the same time each night and a bus stopping outside. I convinced Lorna we could get on this bus and it would take us home to my mum and dad. I used to watch the nurses each night settling us all down to sleep and turning off the main lights. Sometimes they would leave the fIre escape door open. This one night everything seemed to be going to plan and I tried to make my escape dressed in my PJ's dressing gown, slippers, with my toilet bag in one hand and my doll tucked under my other arm. I persuaded Lorna to follow me. Needless to say we only got as far as the fire escape when we were caught.

I must have caused quite a stir, but the only punishment I remember was being put in a straight jacket and having to explain to my mum and dad when they came next to visit me.

Going home
I think I did come home fairly soon after that. The day I left I was allowed to sit in the window to watch them arrive, Lorna was with me but she was ordered back to bed. Her reaction was to tell my dad that Sister Morgan was a bloody cow. I have never heard from her since that day.

Stigma of TB
There was certainly a stigma in admitting you had TB. My own mother would never admit it; she always insisted that I had not had TB, that it was just a shadow on the lung. The whole time I was at Craig-y- Nos I did not receive any treatment that I can remember only tests.”

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