I spent nine eye-opening weeks in Baggot Street Hospital

Family Fortunes: I passed my convalescence from an ovarian cyst looking out the window with Francis, the nice hysterectomy

Barbara Beale (right) and a friend. “I never did take my own advice and I became a nurse, but sadly never worked in Baggot Street Hospital”

Barbara Beale (right) and a friend. “I never did take my own advice and I became a nurse, but sadly never worked in Baggot Street Hospital”

 

I was diagnosed with a large ovarian cyst in 1969, and it was decided that I had to go into my mother’s old alma mater Baggot Street Hospital to have it removed.

I was 15 and trying to survive a sensitive adolescence, so a few weeks in “purdah” in Baggot Street was not unwelcome to me.

It was also full of my mother’s old cronies who made me welcome even if they kept saying “God you’re not a bit like your mother”.

I was starting to enjoy the whole hospital thing when I developed septicaemia post-operatively, and lay hot and shivering for three days in the Moore ward. It was full of women who were motherly and post-hysterectomy. One of them, Sally, had showed me the ward washroom where she washed her nether regions in front of me with an ancient green cloth.

As I lay deliriously ill this same cloth was produced, and she tenderly washed my whole face with it. I knew that the priest was on his way, but I could not wait and demanded that God take me now as she was advancing with that cloth again. However, I was saved by the priest. As he left one of the post-hysterectomies sat by me and said the rosary.

Perhaps the divine intercession worked. I got better. The senior registrar asked me if I ever wanted to be a nurse as I was beginning to enjoy my hospital stay. “No,” I said dismissively “Smelly bedpans and washing oul wans. No thanks!”

I passed my convalescence looking out the window with Francis, the nice hysterectomy. We noticed a lady who often stood by the light in the street. She wore a short skirt, and only put out her ciggie when she entered the back of a car. “She is a quare one,” said Francis. “You know, one of them!”

Actually I didn’t know. What was she?

After nine weeks I was reluctantly discharged, and often thought of the beautiful red-bricked building over the years

I never did take my own advice and I became a nurse, but sadly never worked in Baggot Street Hospital. But I do have my mother’s hospital badge, and it is very precious to me.

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