Thursday, November 02, 2006


Back on duty at the hospital, excitement was running high. The new children’s department, Thornbury, was completed and was to have a grand opening. We were delighted that Marion Stein was to be the opener. Marion Stein was a beautiful concert pianist – born in Vienna and in 1949 had married Lord Harewood – always a lover of classical music. His father was Lord Lascelles who married to the Princess Royal – our present Queen’s aunt – so it was almost like having Royalty do the deed.
Sadly her marriage was dissolved in 1967 and in 1973 she married the leader of the Liberal Party the Right Honourable Jeremy Thorpe who famously said,
’Greater love hath no man than that he lay down his friends for his life.’
When his political life ended in scandal she stood by him.

Thornbury was a mile or so away, but the main Hospital was spruced up with an array of flowers planted in the bit of ground in front of the Hospital, I was amused to see they planted the flowers in little pots which were removed after the visit. Sweet!
Matron told me I would be working at Thornbury which meant getting a different bus to take me to work. Then she said I would be in charge of the theatre there, which gave me pause for thought. After managing to lose the poison cupboard keys whilst in training, my theatre experience was limited. However it turned out that it was mainly a medical department and the only operations would be for pyloric stenosis and tracheotomies.

Pyloric stenosis is when the passage between a baby’s stomach and small bowel becomes thickened and stops the milk from getting through. This results in the baby having projectile vomiting. An incision is made into the muscle enlarging the pylorus thus relieving the obstruction. We were told that this operation had been discovered by accident when a surgeon nicked the muscle. A tracheotomy is creating an opening in the windpipe to assist breathing and provide more oxygen to the lungs.

We didn’t have sterile packs then, so all the instruments had to be sterilised and the trolleys set up and Heaven help you if something was forgotten. I resolved to get to know those two operations backwards so all would go smoothly during the ops. The trouble was the surgeon was so impressed he asked Matron if I could be transferred to his theatre in the main Hospital. Not bloody likely I thought. Matron agreed that as our time in Sheffield was soon to end it wasn’t worth uprooting me again.

As the little theatre was not very busy I spent a lot of time cleaning and sorting out cupboards. One day I came across a bottle containing a brightly coloured liquid and idly removed the stopper to smell it. My head started to swim and there was a loud thumping noise. I realised in time, it must be an anaesthetic liquid, replaced the stopper and kept well away from that cupboard.

William and I loved to go to the cinema and one film that made a great impression about this time was Tennessee Williams’s ‘Streetcar named Desire.’ starring Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando. It was electrifying. No-one ever came near Marlon in his prime and although Vivien’s beauty was fading she proved once and for all that she could teach Larry a thing or two about screen acting. I felt such empathy with the character Blanche Dubois and was convinced I would either have an early death or end up incarcerated in a mad house. Happily I got it wrong!


apprentice said...

Lots of interesting facts as ever. I loved Brando too and that is a wonderful film.

PI said...

CORRECTION ; I misrembered the name of the second lead in the photograph with Vivien. I was afraid I would lose dashboard if I googled it. It should be Karl Malden not Curt Malden didnt he have an extraordinary potato nose?

PI said...

apprentice: and memorable moments. Marlon screaming 'Stella!' and Blanche's 'kindness of strangers.' And heartbreaking at the end.

apprentice said...

Yes it really was a heart-wrencher.
But Marlon just leaped out of the screen, he was soooo gorgeous.
Jack Nicolson says he used to let himself into Jack's house and raid his fridge!

kenju said...

My little son had projectile vomiting for a few times when he was first born. Luckily, he outgrew it and didn't have to have surgery.

Potato nose is right!

Polly said...

You've only just moved to Sheffield. You're such a drama queen - maybe you are incarcerated in a mad house - it's called blogger.

PI said...

apprentice: so sad he let it all go.

Judy: that must have been very worrying. We did have some children who were treated successfully without surgery.

PI said...

polly: guilty! The Sheffield period was a matter of months - part of William's training, after which he returns to the Manchester branch of Metro Vickers. I can't drag my feet too much. I'm still only at 1952:)

R. Sherman said...

I always loved Vivian Leigh. What a babe!


PI said...

Randall: forgive me but I make so many errors I can't resist being psdantic and tell you that it is Vivien - most unusual!
You can see why Larry called her 'Puss' can't you?

ADM said...

Strawberry Nose, surely.

PI said...

Welcome ADM - but Judy and I both think potato. Look again:)

Guyana-Gyal said...

That's a movie I've always promised myself I must watch.

Pat, as always, I want to know the rest of your story like NOW :-)

PI said...

GG: OK - well what happened was... oh sorry - gotta go!