happiness

Edna’s Story 29 (FGK 146)

Another emotional one – although I think that Grandma’s reaction at the hospital was completely appropriate. I’m glad that times have changed enough that we can show some of these emotions. I’ve never heard/read these details of mom’s illness and time in the hospital and while it’s incredibly painful to read I’m grateful to Grandma for writing it down. On a different note, the “favourite sauce” at Christmas must be what is now called “Grandma’s special sauce” (which sounds more like devilish than it is – the extremely high calorie delicious spoonfuls of goodness that we no longer have to put on gross pudding or disgusting fruitcake and instead smother our gingerbread cookies or panettone with the sauce).

By now Marshall was going to Mount Royal College too, and he and Sheila would bring their new friends out to visit. For Christmas I cooked our usual oyster soup, roast turkey, and Christmas pudding with our favourite sauce. It was a big dinner but Margi insisted on eating it like we did. But she wasn’t able to get it down. She soon was becoming dehydrated again. We bought a big rubber boat hoping to fill it with warm water and try to give her underwater therapy in her bedroom. The hospital didn’t have that facility at that time and it was supposed to be good for polio victims. But we couldn’t get it to work. I used to see pictures of Mahatma Ghandi and shudder at the sight he was so thin – but by now Margi was worse than that, she weighed only 56 pounds. Clarence came to see her and was almost ill with the shock of seeing her. Dr. Price came to see her and decided to put her in the Holy Cross for a while. We hired three special nurses and were able to visit her whenever we wanted. They gave her one or two blood transfusions that seemed to put new life into her. Dr Price brought many of his colleagues to see her and we decided she was able to be back in the Red Cross Hospital where they had special equipment for treating those with paralyzed limbs. This time one nurse, Miss Homer, took her in hand and just about hypnotized her into into eating a bit and keeping it down. Gradually she was successful, and by the following summer Margi was getting a little physiotherapy. By now she was so rigid that the agony of her physiotherapy just doesn’t bear thinking about. Miss Olsen, her physiotherapist set her goals ruthlessly and just persisted until Margi could lift her arms. She still cannot lift them very high but just being able to move them was wonderful.

About a year later when I went in to visit her one day there was an air of excitement in the room and when the other mothers left, they asked me to wait a few minutes. Then Miss Olsen came in and said “Well Margi, are you ready to show her?” Even when the patients couldn’t move the nurses always put a dress on them and noted lay on the bed nicely dressed. This day they had put a back brace on under Margi’s dress and Mis Olsen lifted her off the bed and Margi was able to stand up by leaning against the high bed. It was the first time I had seen her stand up for well over a year and the shock or surprise was just too much for me. I crumbled up and cried when I should have shown such happiness. I have never in all my life been so ashamed of myself. Everyone was embarrassed but I think the children understood, each one in there had endured so much and they were all such wonderful characters. Margi was able to sit in a wheelchair then and go down to therapy instead of on a stretcher. She was taking her schooling by correspondence with the help of a wonderful volunteer teacher Mrs John’s. That year (1954?) they fitted her with a leg brace which was the worst and she learned how to walk with crutches. I spent hours down in the physiotherapy room learning all I could about it and Miss Olsen often came out and spent weekends with us teaching me more.

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