My Stay in Hospital (TB) Wards 1951 And 1972


Thought I would blog about my time in hospital, when diagnosed with tuberculosis 1st in 1951 and again in 1972.

Killingbeck Hospital 1951

killingbeck hospital ward

First time was in Killingbeck hospital in 1951, later become a specialist Heart Hospital, now demolished for blocks of flats.

My Dad was diagnosed; I believe 2 years before me and ended up in the same hospital. He had a stay of 2 years, whereas I only was in for 6 months.

I remember him telling me, the weird ideas they had for cures i.e. leaving window and doors open to the worst of winter weathers in the idea that would help cure you. I’m sure it didn’t, and many died from Pneumonia.

I can only tell you what I know from being told by my parents, about my first visit as of course, was only 2 years old. I was diagnosed with tuberculosis of one eye, (ocular tuberculosis).

People in those days have lost eyes in an attempt to do a biopsy to make a (full) diagnosis of intraocular tuberculosis. This is what happened to me. Maybe nowadays diagnosis can be done without problems.

Anyway, I know was in isolation and received barrier Nursing. My parents, for 6 months could not be in the same room as me, being infectious. They had to watch me through a glass screen for I believe 6 months, imagine a mother/father not able to cuddle their baby for that length of time. Must have been terrible. I have no idea what drugs I was on, if any at that time.

I also was told from medical notes that when I had a day in hospital a year ago, that a part of my brain was removed. They would not let me see notes, so don’t know why they had to do that.

I think that explains a lot of things. Lol.

I was told it was amazing that the notes were still on file after 63 years.

I understand when I recently tried to get hold of my medical notes (for another reason) that medical notes are usually destroyed after 7 years, if no follow up happens.

St James Hospital 1972

st james hospital

I have a very good long memory, so can remember vast amounts from my time in this hospital in 1972. Don’t ask me about my short term memory, that’s a different matter.

Was also the year Leeds Untied won the FA cup 1-0 against Arsenal at Wembley. More of that later.

Started off going to my GP as I knew had a problem. Tests were made. In a couple of days, got a call at work (worked at Vallances Electrical, then). They told me to go straight to hospital; an ambulance was going to pick me up.

Again I had tuberculosis. This time pulmary tuberculosis (lungs). You’re not supposed to get it twice, so eventually they thought may have been dormant for 22 years. This also meant that drugs they were going to give may be TB resistant. The problem now was if I’m drug resistant, the Surgeon says may not be able to cure me. I can’t remember if any other drugs where offered to me.

Anyway, put on a course of Inapasade (oral), Streptomycin (injections). Yes after all this time, remember those medication names. Believe me; I will never forget those names as long as I shall live.

The daily routine started for me very early. Woke up to all the usual noises you get in a ward. Not wanting to wait for breakfast, I made myself a drink of tea in the kitchen. Health & Safety would not let you do that nowadays.

It soon became routine and ended up making it for a few woke up early patients and Nurses as well.

Some days if I did not wake up at 6am, a big obese Nurse would give my bed a boot that woke me up.

One thing we could not do as patients was to lie on top of the bed, you either was in the bed (covered with sheets) or chair at side of bed. Woe betide if you did not follow these rules when Matron came round, she was the size of Hattie Jacques in the Carry On Matron film.

After a few months on medication, getting a bit better I turned myself into helping the Nurses dish out food. Nurses did it then, (think carers do it now). There was a big table in the middle of the ward I believe the ward had 30 men. Men that could walk, had their meals on this big table and were easier to serve, than go round all the beds. Nowadays wards are broken up into bays of 4 or 6.

On a night time, one Nurse sat at a desk with a reading lamp doing paperwork. Only when she needed help would Nurse come, I presume from another ward.

FA Cup Final match day.

In the ward we were given a bottle of Guinness every night. Believe me this is true. It was supposed to be good for you. Certain wards of course did not get any, like mental health wards and of course Maternity wards, perish the thought.

Some patients (who did not drink), decided to refuse the beer, so them who smoked, got bottles anyway and they would swap for cigarettes. By end of week, bed side cabinets used to be full to over flowing with the bottles. Ready for the weekend.

We all had been saving up our bottles of Guinness for the cup final, and were going to watch in the TV viewing room. Anyway, Matron found out we were going to do this, and decided not to allow us. Thought we were going to get drunk and cause trouble. Maybe she was right.

Anyway we all decided those who could walk and no longer infectious, to break out and go to Cemetery Tavern across road from St James Hospital (TV was in colour as well) later renamed Florence Nightingale.

Any patient had a problem, plenty of doctors and nurses had ended shift and was in there anyway. We must have looked a right sight in PJs and dressing gowns. Of course we could not take bottles of beer in, so bought from pub. Saving bottles for later.

Leeds Untied beat Arsenal 1-0, so when we got back and got a rollicking from Matron, we could not give a toss.

 Cleaning day (Wednesday afternoon)

All beds where moved from one side of the ward to the other. Floors and units cleaned put back and did the same for other side.

There was a single bed unit just off the ward, and if Nurses put bed next to that we would complain, as when you were on your last legs, went in there. So you could have some privacy.

Many wards still have these single bed units even today.

One day I did end up next door to this unit, and heard a massive scream and sound of something being dropped. I went to have a look, Nurse had dropped metal kidney dish, as she took a mask of patient to moisten his lips, and he had died.

There was blood everywhere, the poor lass on her first day on the ward and that had to happen. I thought something had happened to her as well, she was also covered in blood on the floor after fainting.

Discharged go home

After 6 Months now is the time to get discharged from hospital, (not a day too soon). Still the prognosis is not clear and I had to be on drugs for another 6 months. That would be a total of 1 year. Anyway after going home, had a month off sick, before going back to work.

The routine now is that District Nurse came every day, apart from weekends to give me an injection of Streptomycin. I also continued on oral Inapasade.

I now started to have massive side effects now from Streptomycin, when they increased the dose to double the amount, as smaller amounts did not seem to be working.

The Nurse said that, have I ever taken LSD drugs. I said not. Well you know now with the drugs you are taking that it has same hallucinate side effects. I also had the side effect that I started to lose some of my hearing.

The problem now is the Nurse came in the morning before I went to work, to administer the injection and it was now a race against time to get to work before the injection kicked in. I now had to catch bus to work, as there is no way could go on my motor bike.

I was shop manager at Vallances, and for 7 months that I was off work the assistant manager took over.

Now I could not go back to my old job until I came off injections, as half the time I wondered about as if I was drunk. So I took on light duties. After about another 5 months, in total 12 months since I was in hospital, I went to St James hospital for a blood test.

They finally told me I was cured and the medication had done its trick. I was able to get my job back as shop manager.

One Reply to “My Stay in Hospital (TB) Wards 1951 And 1972”

  1. Interesting post, Ken…

    Reminds me of my various visits to hospital including a trip to a Liverpool hospital in the 1970s when I was the only man (in my mid 20s) on the ward and everyone else was over 70…

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