The World of Ephemera #5

Medical Matters

ephemeraIt’s time for another post in my series on paper finds – and I have three things to share that are all linked by being of a medical nature.

First is my Mum’s discharge certificate from the evocatively named Purdysburn Fever Hospital after suffering a bout of scarlet fever back in 1939.

Fever hospitalScarlet fever or Scarletina (although Scarletina is more usually used to describe a mild attack these days) is one of those childhood diseases caused by a nasty bacterium, (streptococcus) characterised by fever, a bright red tongue and measles type rash, and its rather infectious.  It was a real killer in the 1800s.

In the days before penicillin was available, those who became infected were carted off to fever hospitals like my Mum who was eight when she got it.  Sometimes their bedding had to be burned too.

I remember getting it as a child too, but was just kept in isolation at home for a fortnight while the antibiotics did their job.  I’m so glad I didn’t have to go to hospital – it must have been awful for her.

Moving on … to something less serious.

ante natal cardHere  is my brother’s ante-natal card just showing above it’s folder.  What tickled me about this one is the precise nature of the list of what you were expected to have to hand when you had your baby.  I’m not an expert, but am presuming this list is for a home-birth.  In the event, my brother was a breech emergency, so I expect that all went a bit pear-shaped.

It was the ‘Fish Paste jar’ that got me. The added extras aren’t my Mum’s writing, so I guess the midwife may have made these suggestions.

* * * * *

And finally…

My Mum was not so much a hypochondriac as the complete opposite – being an enthusiastic adopter of new health trends.  The extract from the letter on the right was from 1960 when she was pregnant with me.

hypnosisEvidently,  she read about self-hypnosis for pain-relief in pregnancy and signed up to this course given by the then President of the British Society of Hypnotherapists no less – a Canadian chap with a double-barrelled name and consulting rooms in Harley Street.

Whether it worked or not I shall never know, but being willing to pay the exhorbitant fee of 18 guineas suggests that she may have been a good candidate and pre-disposed to being hypnotised!

I was hypnotised once around twenty years ago to help give up smoking.  It was a totally strange feeling, and afterwards I felt as light as a feather and totally relaxed.  I could never recreate that though with the tape of the session I was given – every time I sat down on the bed with my headphones to try it again, the cats snuggled up and started purring and I couldn’t concentrate.  In the end I found good old willpower was the only thing I needed.

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