When I read back about my little mishap at the age of 2 it reminded me of another encounter I had with hospitalization at the age of 6.
My 3 year younger brother suffered from a perpetually runny nose and had colds practically the year through. And that in a tropical climate with temperatures often of 40 C in the shade.
Our doctor advised my mum that it would be a good idea if he had his tonsils removed. The latter being a popular thing for little children then but is now frowned upon as it has been discovered that those organs do have some purpose.
As my eldest brother had had his done as a small baby(!!!) and she found it too sad for my little brother (the favourite, remember) to have to undergo this procedure on his own it was decided that I should have mine taken out as well to have it all over and done with. I never had a cold in my life and my tonsils were just fine but for some reason the surgeon approved of this plan so we were duly delivered to the children’s’ room in the St.Elisabeth hospital of Curacao.
In those days people believed that when a child was in hospital the mother should not visit as it would only upset the little one and give too much trouble.
So we did not see our mum for the whole week we were there and my dad visited once probably to check if we were still in one piece.
If you thought my first stay at the hospital was traumatic listen to this.
On the morning of the operation they gave us breakfast with a strong sedative hidden away in a pudding. Little did they know I hated any kind of pudding so my little brother who loved them had two…You can guess what happened. When they came to collect us he was comatose while I was wide awake but too scared to give a peep. To prevent having to bring a trolley to theatre twice, this was the Caribbean, they put my brother on top and me at the bottom of the trolley, the place where they normally put the paper work and other stuff.
After arriving in the vestibule of the theatre they ,thinking that I was sedated as well, left me there alone and took my brother in to have his tonsils ripped out.
There I was all of 6 years old seeing all these frightening instruments around me and not knowing what to do to escape that scary place.
Luckily it took not very long before they wheeled my brother back to me to sleep off his drugs and they took me inside. I am more than 60 years older now but still remember the sheer horror of it all. I even remember them putting this smelly black cap on my face telling me to count backward from 10. I tried to hold my breath as long as I could.
The only good thing about it all was that afterwards we were given as much ice cream as we could eat to reduce the swelling.
It took a whole week for my parents to pick us up after what nowadays is a one day procedure. They wanted the worst – all that crying- to be over before they took over. The only excuse I can think of now is that they were very young parents.
Apparently I did not speak a word to my Mum for 6 whole weeks. I was that angry. But even after all that I chose for a career to do with hospitals. There will be some very deep psychological reason for that I bet.
In my life afterwards I have had more operations but none were as traumatic as this one.