Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Barbara O’Connell (nee Paines): "Going home"- 1953

Teenager Barbara O’Connell (nee Paines) was in Ward 2 for a year.

Barbara remembers the ghost stories.
" I was told it was a nurse struck by lightening who now wandered the wards."

She remembers Matron Knox-Thomas going around the wards in the evening with her Irish red setter, Paddy, but she never went out on to the balcony.
"Sometimes she would stand at the door and shine her torch around the ward."

Her memory is that there were 26 girls in the ward and on the balcony. Despite these cramped conditions she says:
"I did enjoy my stay in the hospital because our ward was one big happy family."

This is Barbara's account of her early days back home:

"The day I came home was a bad experience, at first I was alright until I turned into my street. Then the fear started it seemed as if the houses had been moved.

It was like walking down a very narrow alleyway. When I reached my house and I walked through the door I ducked down, it seemed as if the ceiling was on top of me. As I got further into the house it got worse, as we had two passage ways until we got to the back room that we lived in, once I was in the back room I felt as if I was being closed in, it was so claustrophobic.

It was a horrible feeing.

After the hugs and kisses from my father and younger sister, I felt really strange because when I left home there was seen of us, now there were only four of us. As my three older sisters were still in h hospital.

At bedtime I did have mixed feelings, I laid in a bed on my own. It was something I never done before as I always had my sister to talk to. That was when I started thinking I did miss my sisters and the company of the girls on the ward.

But I was home now although it was like being shut into a cupboard because my bedroom was so small.

The following day I couldn't wait to go out, so after breakfast my mother took me to town and bought me some new clothes, which was really nice as I had not had anything new for a long time.

We met a few people that were surprised to see how I had grown and how well I looked, as I was quite small when I left home.

I also met a few friends that I was in school with, but they didn’t seem to want to know me because I’d had TB.

Even my best friend who lived two doors away didn’t want to know me, I saw her coming out of the shop, spoke to her and she totally ignored me."

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