Just before Christmas in 1953 I was admitted to St Giles' Hospital in Camberwell, south London. It was thought that I had TB. I was allowed home for Christmas, although confined to bed.
After Christmas I was taken by ambulance to Highwood Hospital in Brentwood, which my parents told me was a 'convalescent home'. One of the boys on my Ward quickly disillusioned me, as of course all of the patients had varying degrees of TB.
The "older" boys, myself included, had beds on the outer part of the building, which had a glass roof and long glass windows, which were left open at night. It was quite cold, and I quickly learned to sleep on my back, to keep out any draughts.
During the first week of my stay, still confined to bed, I underwent a number of chest X-rays and tests. On the second Monday the Ward Sister came to my bedside and told me that I did not in fact have TB and that I could go home. Yippee! Unfortunately, patients could apparently only be discharged on Sundays, which was also visiting day. Given that TB is contagious, I guess that I was lucky not to become infected.
While relieved to be leaving, I well recall the sad and perhaps envious faces of the boys who had to remain in the hospital, as I said goodbye to everyone.
A memory shared byon Dec 2nd, 2008.
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