Friday, May 02, 2008

Marlene Hopkins-San Francisco, California

Marlene ( centre) with her husband and family

Marlene in the Six-Bedder with her twin sister

I was there from 1953 for two years from about 14 or 15 years and I still have the letter they wrote to my mother saying I was ready to be picked up.

Every now and again I type in Craig-y-nos perhaps out of nostalgia. Well, I got quite a shock when I saw a picture of my bed on the web. I was on Ward 2, on blocks, right by the window.

I still have family in Wales.

I lived in a very small village and it took my mother many hours to get to Craig-y-nos to visit so sometimes they couldn't come.

Going to America
My married name is Philibosian. I have been in the States for about 45 years. I have been married for 43 years. I came to the University of Chicago to study. I was already a midwife so I worked there for a while. I didn't want to stay there – I wanted to come to California where I met my husband. We have four children and five grandchildren and I became an American citizen.

My time in Craig-y-nos
I was in bed at home for about 6 – 9 months I think it was while they were waiting for a bed. I was there for about 2 years and I immediately did my 'O' levels and 'A' levels when I came out. I didn't miss a whole lot of school. I had to study to cover the ground. I remember Miss White, the girl guides. I had streptomycin.

I was impressed with the building when I first saw it. I think it was the isolation from the family that was the biggest adjustment. I had a twin sister and I have a picture where she's visiting me.

How I passed the time
I made some wonderful friends. I remember lying in the bed and looking out of the window across to the farm. There was a cow in the field and I thought that cow was mine.

I collected stamps. I wrote everything in my diary. I read a lot.

I still have a diary from Craig-y-nos. I think I spent a lot of time with Edgar the gardener, the dog, Lady the horse, the swans, but that was at the tail end of the treatment.

I took my temperature and pulse and I would record that, silly little things including Sister Morgan's mood. I remember someone had washed my twin set and it was on the balcony. It was so cold that it had frozen and it had fallen over down the rails. Everybody laughed because the twin set had frozen stiff. We all thought that was great fun.

It was cold. I thought if I don't catch pneumonia it will be a miracle.

I remember the paper decorations at Christmas. I remember going down to the theatre.

During the week the food was not that great. I remember a Sunday they had turkey and stuffing which I love. I must have put on 20 lbs when I was there because I loved the Sunday dinners. Lots of semolina I remember.

The balcony seemed like a separate community.

I was moved to the Six-Bedder. I remember we had torches. We were in the Girl Guides and we used to do the morse on the ceiling. I taught a girl called Ann how to do the morse.

I think it has made me appreciate the fact that I can be by myself and still enjoy that. It has made me independent - I don't have to be entertained, I can sit and read a book. I think it gave me a full appreciation of medicine. I think it's one of the reasons I went into the medical profession.

I think I missed out on the teenage years where I kind of grew up differently.

I don't have bad memories but I know whenever I went for an x-ray I don't think I could sleep for days till we had the rounds and I used to think to myself I don't feel sick so I had no indication that I was getting better. I worried till I got myself into a state.

The staff
Thank God for Auntie Maggie and Glenys because I think they were the ones that I recall that brought the warmth to the ward. They were the ones that were surrogate mothers. They treated you like family.

I think Sister Morgan was 'militaristic'. There wasn't much warmth and I put in my diary the only time she smiled was the day she told me I was going home. I have no record of her smiling, anywhere else.

Dr Williams was wonderful and the nurses were great. I remember Dr Huppert's very strong accent and I remember her dragging her leg. I always wondered if she had had polio or something.

They couldn't guarantee that the nurses wouldn't contract TB themselves and a lot of nurses did not want to go into that so I suppose its understandable that nobody was trained.

Auntie Maggie would bring in a catalogue at Christmas and told us to save our money to choose a present for our parents.

Acknowledging the history of Craig-y-nos and TB
I'm glad you're doing what you are doing. The history of Craig-y-nos goes along with the history of TB. They have come so far. It does not have the stigma that it did years ago.

If we as patients can talk about it that could be a precedent of the book. Everyone else could talk about it because we were the ones who were directly involved.

I can understand the younger children suffering from post traumatic stress disorder because children need to be nurtured so they can develop properly.

I should add one most important detail. I read the Bible daily and I do believe that it sustained me and gave me hope.”

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