Friday, October 12, 2007

Sylvia Williams (nee Floyd) 1947-52.

"My story" by Sylvia Williams

I was admitted to Craig – y – nos in 1947.
It may have been a wonderful Castle in wonderful grounds with beautiful views  of the Brecon Beacons but I was 11 years old, very ill and miles from home and my Mother.
I was confined to my bed for the next 4 years, not allowed to go to the bathroom nor the toilet.
Not allowed to sit in the chair while my bed was being changed, the nurses did a wonderful   job of rolling  me on one side while they put the sheet on one side of the bed; then roll on the other side  to bring the sheet around that side. An almost impossible task.
Tuberculosis was a killer disease. Many of the girls in my ward where sent home to die.
There was no medication.  TB antibiotics wasn’t even a word.
The only cure was absolute bed rest , fresh air , and good food. We must remember that in 1947 it wasn’t long since the war had ended, so I am sure that the food we where given was the best we could have had.

I had five cavities in my lungs and about 1948 I had to have part of my lung removed. I went to Morriston hospital for this, and Dr Danino did my operation (Dr Dan) I think I was in Morriston for three months.
When I returned to Craig-y-Nos Dr Hubbard and Dr Williams were the Doctors.

Artificial Pneumathorax
Every week I had to have Artificial Pneumathorax.
Dr Huppert

Dr Huppert was the lady doctor to do this for me she was a very harsh woman. Austrian. I dare not think about shedding a tear or crying . While she did this painful procedure .
It consisted of inserting a thick needle between my ribs on my left side , to go through to my lung , it was attached  to a pipe and air was pressed into my lung.
I wouldn’t have been able to speak or move if I did not have this done.
I had to have it every one or two weeks for the next three and a half years.
Occasionally (about every six months) I was taken to the Grove Place Chest Clinic in Swansea for an x-ray to see Dr Glyn Lewis. I was never told any results of those x-rays.

Patients Reunion
There was no one else ever in my ward that had this same treatment , and when I attended the reunion on Sunday 9-9-2007 I was remembered by a few of the women for this very thing, I had to have this Apparatus every two weeks.

Adjusting to life in Craig-y-nos
Settling into hospital live was very hard, but you have to realise this is what you had to do. Visiting was only allowed on the first Saturday and Sunday of the month from 2 PM 'til 4 PM . It was terrible when my mother had to go. Every Sunday my mother took a brown carrier bag to the bus station in Swansea and paid 2/- for a ticket for that bag to bring on the bus to Craig-y Nos , and every Sunday about 2 o’clock I could watch from the window and see the bus driver bring my brown paper carrier bag into the hospital.
Its was exciting because every week my mother would be sending sweets , chocolates and half a dozen eggs (which the nurses would cook for my breakfast) or mix up into a glass of milk (long before the days of salmonella of course) I might have new pyjamas of maybe new slippers . Always a book. I felt very lucky.

Sister Morgan with children

The Staff
On ward 2 where I spent those five years. We had lovely staff Nurse Glenys Davies was a beautiful , fun loving nurse and did everything in her power to make us happy. Sister Morgan was our ward sister. Auntie Maggie was Ward Auxiliary Nurse .

Dr Ivor Williams

Ward 2
The wards were meticulously clean . Every day our lockers were washed , floors were brushed washed and polished .

I spent five Christmases in Craig-y-Nos and every year my mother would a fill a large suitcase with presents and goodies , and in the middle of the night the night nurse would put every case by the side of every girls bed .
Father Christmas would come on Christmas day and we all had a gift ( father Christmas was the hospital dentist ) .
On Christmas day Dr Williams came to each ward to carve the turkey on the table (  Dr Williams and Dr Hubbard where both resident at the hospital).

The balcony
I had to spend the summer time in the ward, and the winter time on the Balcony. The children on the Balcony had to have a tarpaulin over their beds because during the winter snow and rain swept in on to the beds . Our Christmas dinner often had to be sheltered from the snow .

Long Round
Every Wednesday we had “Long Round” .
  Dr Williams , Dr Hubbard , the matron and the sister came to the ward and came to each bed and looked at our chart to read our temperature and our pulse and whisper about us , ask us how we were , smile , and move to the next girl.

Harry Secombe touring the hospital wards after a concert

Once a month there was a concert in the wonderful theatre. Harry Secombe was a constant act that came.
I was taken in a Wheelchair. It was a wonderful evening out, and if I was really, really honest not so much for the concert, but more for the fact that I was leaving my bed and leaving the ward.
We had to have school lessons in bed too. Miss Thomas and Miss White  were the teachers. Mornings only. Because we were mixed ages in the ward we more or less had
individual homework to do every day.  I remember Miss Thomas had me to enter a
Hand writing competition, and I won a Conway Stuart Fountain Pen. (long before the
Biro came into our lives
We had a firework display every Bonfire Night  and everybody came onto the balcony.
Of course it was the winter so I was already out on the Balcony.

Some of the boys on the balcony
Boys balcony
The boys ward was immediately below us and I used to send notes tied to a piece of string over the balcony to Godfrey Boniface. I considered him to be my very first
boyfriend, in actual fact I don’t think that I ever saw him. I used to shout to him over the balcony. I was tied to my bed so I guessed that he was as well . Then the sister would come and shut us up.

How we passed the time
During my five years in Ward Two I am not going to say they were “ the happiest days of my life” far from it , but they were not miserable days either , we were all in the same boat , all missing our families .
We had wonderful nurses looking after us. There was no television in those days , and every Sunday night sister Morgan allowed us to listen to Donald Peers and he played music similar to top of the pops I would think . You’d be surprised how exciting Donald Peers and that Babbling Brook could be.

At the time  I had pen pals from all over the world , one pen pal was in Australia and she would send me a parcel of tin fruit . It was wonderful . I don’t think we could have had tin fruit in the hospital in those days . I shared it with the others in the ward. But always a tin for my mother to take home .

Getting up
After I had been in bed for four years , they must have decided now is the time when I should start getting up. Initially I had to just sit in the chair for 15 minutes . It’s a frightening thing to do , after all those years of me promising myself the first thing I was going to do was to go to the bathroom . I was unable to walk , my knees could not hold me.  Eventually after about three weeks I was walking properly and could go outside to see the grounds of Craig-y-Nos which were wonderful.

Dr Huppert in pensive mood

Year later
It was almost another year before I was allowed home . Streptomycin was here and I was one of the first patients  to be given it. It saved my life .
So on the final “Long Round” Dr Williams told me they were going to send me home. I couldn’t believe it . I wrote to my mother and in huge letters across the page I wrote “ I CAN COME HOME ” I was now sixteen.

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