Chapter 6, Pt 2 of 5
OUR SECOND CHILD AND HOSPITAL LIFE
On the third day of the accident Sheel took me in the car to Southend General Hospital to have an X-ray examination done. To my great distress it showed I had fractured my pelvis. Mr Maingot, the surgeon in the hospital, and Sheel discussed the necessary treatment together, and afterwards they broke the news to me very gently that I would have to stay in the hospital for a couple of weeks at least. They could not put a plaster on my fracture and so they had to keep it in one position for as long as it was necessary. They placed heavy sandbags, one on each side of my thighs and thus fixed me up in a single room in the Private Ward.
This was the first time that I had entered a hospital as a patient and I must admit I felt most disquieted with the idea of staying there for so long. Knowing that only the gravely ill people went to the hospitals, I expected to hear the moaning and groaning sounds from the inmates and to see the sad, solemn faces around me.
But I need not have feared, for in the single room I heard nothing but the pleasant chatter of the nurses. They pulled each other’s legs about their boyfriends about their favourite doctors as they made my bed, straightened the pillows or moved me from side to side. Sometimes I would find four or five of these bright-eyed rosy-cheeked young ladies gathered around me and trying their utmost to divert my attention from the pain and discomfort. Their laugh seemed to be infectious and after I got over the shock of my fall, I found myself laughing with them. There was never a dull moment in the room. The matron and the sisters never failed to come and say a few words of cheer and encouragement to you.
The paperboy came regularly every morning and offered to run errands for you without accepting any reward for it. Even the maid did her utmost to help and comfort you. One night when I felt the pain more than usual the night nurse came, gave me the tablets, then sat and read a story to me. One can never forget such kindness.
After two weeks’ splendid nursing and feeding (we patients had chicken every night those days) I regained most of my strength and spirits. I could be propped up and was allowed to read and write. Yet Mr Maingot made it quite plain to me that I would have to stay in for another few weeks. “You need company Mrs Chowdhary,” he said, “and we will shift you into the four-bedded ward.”
This was another new experience for me. It taught me, among other things, how to lead a useful and fairly happy life while keeping in bed all the time. Nothing gives one more confidence (and makes one feel thankful for His small mercies) than to come across people who are going through worse ordeals than yourself.
Right in front of me was Mrs Reed, who had gone through a major spinal operation and was ordered to lie straight on her back: for two to three months. She was a frail lady with greying hair and soft voice and must have been suffering from pain and discomfort, and yet I always noticed a smile on her lips. She talked cheerfully, not about her own troubles, but about things in general. It was astonishing how many little jobs she did for herself just by using her brain, eyes and hands. She kept her locker and the table on the other side perfectly tidy. She hardly ever pressed the bell under her pillow, and was most appreciative for whatever the nurses did for her. From my bed I watched her with awe and admiration. She influenced me a great deal
Next to her was Mrs Jones, a very heavily built, elderly lady, suffering from an acute heart disease. She sometimes became delirious during the night, but on the whole was peaceful and most friendly.
Then on the right side of me was Mrs Hockley, a middle-aged lady with a plump figure and very pretty pale-blue bed jacket. Her brown hair was turning grey at the temples and she kept her spectacles on most of the time. She had an internal operation (Hysterectomy) and stayed in the ward for three weeks. We took to each other at first sight, and became real pals within a few days.
She was a very witty person indeed, and often kept us and all the nurses in fits of laughter. We shared all the delicacies, fruits, chocolates, cakes, etc., which were brought to us by our dear ones. The strawberries were in season then and Mr Hockley, who grew some prodigious ones in his garden, brought a basketful of them every evening to his wife. He never forgot to bring some fresh cream with them either. So there we were, enjoying these delicious strawberries and cream in our so-called sickbeds.
We often enjoyed pieces of birthday cakes brought to us from other wards, from the kind patients and their relatives whom we had never even met.
In our ward we seemed to share our relatives and friends also. Any visitors who came into the ward, made a point of saying a few words to each one of of us, and never forgot to ask if he or she could help in any way. Now, this was real kindness and consideration of human feeling.