Garrison Fields

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Chapter 14 - A turn for the worse

In the second week of his confinement Albert was beginning to regain some of his old composure. He was now able to sit at the side of his bed and Ted could be sat on his knee, even with only the one good arm he was strong enough to hold him and she watched as they would both doze off together. She had taken a letter on his discharge to Dr Broad who attended once a week, it was quite fortunate that the majority of this charge was covered by the seaman’s mission, of which her husband was a member by way of being a seafarer, they paid a few pennies a quarter, and in turn the mission provided help to sea faring families on hard times, it also ran an orphanage, where if misfortune at sea took the father, then the child would be brought up free of the poor house.

The day’s seemed to be getting brighter and so did Albert, his confusion seemed to be abating, but Dr Broad was under the opinion that it would be several months before he was back at work, it was quite an obvious remark, as his shoulder injury alone would not allow him to either row or clamber onto any ship.

At the end of the second week Albert needing a call of nature bent forward while standing up to reach the pot that was under the bed as he reached for the handle he felt the whole world turn upside his face turned bright red as all the blood in his body rushed to his head, his eyes felt as if they were going to explode then all sensation drained from him as if the blood had run into his feet.

Downstairs Jane heard a thump as he fell to the floor smashing his head against the iron bedstead. She dropped what she was doing and raced upstairs to find him on the floor semi-conscious blood oozing from his nose and ears. With all her strength she managed to get him on the bed and then she ran downstairs and out to her next-door neighbour, banging at the door, tears were running down her face as the door was opened,

‘Mrs Carr, Albert’s had a bad fall and I need to get the doctor, can you sit with him while I run down there, I’m scared to leave him by himself.’

‘You get your sel’ back in there with Albert, my boy Jack’s in, he’ll get the doctor, you go back now, I’ll come round in a second.′ Jane returned to her house in the distant she could hear Mrs Carr bellowing at Jack.

‘You get down to Dr Broad’s this instant and tell him to get up here right away to Mrs Burn’s house her husband has had a bad fall, now you get down there now run all the way and don’t stop for anything.’

The car arrived shortly afterwards, Jack was also in it, Dr Broad had left his surgery the instant he had been told, the door was opened, there were no formalities.

‘He’s up here doctor.’ She went before him to the room, he entered and examined Albert, whose pallor were as white as the bed linen. He turned to Albert.

‘Nothing to worry about, you’ve had a nasty crack there, but your good wife will clean that up nicely when I’ve left,’ he continued.

‘I will ask Mr Alexander to call around as soon as possible, I want to make sure that you have not damaged any of his handiwork.’ Thank you, Doctor, came from all parties”.

He rose and left the room followed by Jane, as they reached the bottom of the stairs he stopped and Jane noticed that his bedside smile had all but disappeared.

You understand that I am asking Mr Alexander to come round as I believe as a result of the fall your husband nay have suffered a haemorrhage, It would be unwise to move him, and I hope that Mr Alexander will concur and total bed rest will be the solution.′

This was a shock, things were just appearing to get back to normal and now another setback, there was only one thing to be done now, she would watch him like a hawk, until he was better.

It was two hours later when to her surprise Dr Broad arrived with Mr Alexander, she of course heard the car, and there were so few in this vicinity, that it could be assumed to be his.

As before they all swept up the staircase, she waited outside the room while the two doctors carried out the examination. At length they invited her in, and Mr Alexander talked plainly to them both.

‘Your husband has had a haemorrhage in his lobe’ the doctor explained, ‘and …this might result in many things including convulsions, you must be on your guard in the next few days, and Albert you are not to bend down under any circumstances’. The words just bounced off her, she was in a state of shock, his request for.

‘Do you have any questions?’ fell on shell shocked ears, she had no idea what to ask or why. They left the bedroom and in the hallway, Mr Alexander stopped for a second, he explained that he expected that their might possibly be some fitting, this was nothing to worry about, he informed her how to react to best control it, and also requested her to pay particular attention to any mood swings or other behaviour.

Everything that Mr Alexander had predicted, began to happen first there was the fitting within a few days of the accident, she had never seen a seizure before and this taxed her to her utmost, but with the advice of Mr Alexander and her own calmness and fortitude she battled through these experiences, next in line were the mood swings, from being the gentlest man alive now the smallest incident might result in anything close at hand being hurled across the room, dinner being the usual object.

Then there were days when he was as bright as a button, laughing and smiling his shoulder was beginning to heal and the sling and strapping had now been removed, this allowed him in these moments of calm to play his accordion, just as he had used to most Sunday’s, but there was a deeper problem his mind seemed to have lost great swathes of his memory it was jumbled up and not coordinated, the death of his beloved daughter was a memory too hard for him to remember, indeed when young Ted was brought in the room and sat on his knee, he believed that he was the child that had died, he smiled and jolted him on his knee all the time unaware of her death.

As the weeks turned into months the lucid moments became fewer, his mind retreating deep inside himself, the fits becoming a regular occurrence. Jane coped, the boys also helped and looked after their father whenever she had to leave the house. She tried as best she could to keep independent, but it was extremely hard, every evening when the boys were in bed she sat in the kitchen, with a pencil and paper and worked out how long it would be, before the savings they had put away for all those years ran out.

It was a harrowing time, she knew Albert’s parents had been trying to help out, here and there with looking after the children and where possible small financial help, in some cases just dropping a few extra provisions off a week when they came round. They were keeping the boys when possible more and more, to give her a break. But she couldn’t expect them to keep shouldering her responsibility, they themselves were in their early sixties now and who knows when they would be unable to work anymore.

She could not keep taking money from them, which was to aid them in their own old age. They like her, had always put a little away each week when possible. The worst thing imaginable to them would be, to be in such a position where they had to go and beg to the parish relief fund. Knowing that the next step after this would be either the street or one of the municipal assistance hostels, or as they were still referred to, the workhouse!

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