Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Christine with her birthday cake on the balcony
An e-mail from Christine Bennett reminds me that patients memories of Craig-y-nos covered the whole spectrum of experiences and depended very much not only on age and year but also on the ward.
Those, like Christine, who were there on the balcony in the late 1950’s, have happy memories.
"I know that my almost four years there were, by and large, happy years.
I know that being a teenager, & a post-streptomycin patient, probably made all the difference to my positive memories of Craig y Nos.”
This contrasts sharply with many of the painful stories we have heard, most pre-streptromycin.
But some have been amazingly stoical accounts of children having endured what in retrospect seem primitive treatments and procedures, a sign perhaps of the resilience of children and the power of the human spirit to survive often in bleak circumstances.
Craig-y-nos Castle viewed from the lake
Those who have come forward and volunteered their stories are the survivors. Inevitably they are a self-selected group.
We know nothing of the stories of those who died there or were sent home to die.
Nor do we know anything about the children who were abandoned at Craig-y-nos. For this dark story is only now beginning to emerge.
I know from my own time there of two such children, both had TB meningitis and their brains were affected, and their parents had stopped visiting.
Another curious fact : hardly any girl from within Ward 2, either on the teenage ward on the first floor or the childrens ward on floor 2 have come forward to be interviewed.
Most of the stories are from girls who were "on the balcony".
Ward 2 had 36 beds of which around 7 were on the balcony. That leaves 29 girls unaccounted for.
Why the silence from the girls indoors?
Meanwhile plenty of young women have come forward from the Annexe and Six-Bedder wards with a fair sprinkling from Ward 1 and the Glass Conservatory.
The reason for this is unclear. Perhaps someone can come up with an explanation.