THE SPANISH FLU – 1918(from my book”Common Threads” page 185)

[Note: the book is categorized as “Fictionalized Biography” but the following incident is from an interview I had with my uncle in 2007. His mother (my grandmother) had worked as a care aide at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria where she contacted the disease] I never met my grandmother but I like this story!

“….For two and a half weeks Nell lay on a cot in the crowded Women’s Isolation Ward, not caring whether she lived or died. In all that time she only permitted liquids to pass between her swollen tongue and clenched teeth. Her body shrunk and she suffered from fever induced hallucinations- but no nosebleeds…[note apparently it seemed that: “patients with bleeding noses survived more often than those that did not” ]

“……. That evening [November 11th 1918] when the physicians made their rounds their voices were boisterous because of the alcoholic spirits they’d imbibed in celebration of War’s end…

“By the second week in November, hospital admissions with symptoms of influenza had decreased considerably. The larger number of beds now housed patients who were on their way to recovery. In Nell’s ward there remained only three women in a semi-conscious state. These patients displayed the blue skin tones of cyanosis caused by a lack of oxygen. The physicians making their rounds noted that Nell appeared to be one of them.

“‘ I’d wager a whole wad of money that woman won’t make it ’til morning,’ one of the doctors was predicating. ‘I won’t take you up on that one,’ his companion chortled, with a slight slur in his voice.

“The callous tone of the physician’s remarks penetrated Nell’s consciousness even before the words did. A wave of indignation swept through her and she was suddenly determined to prove them wrong. All that night Nell lay on her cot forcing tiny spurts of air into her tightly congested lungs. By morning she was coughing so hard hard her chest hurt. She was alive but the two other women in the ward were not….”

Note: my grandmother’s story told to me by her son, was related using terminology and reminiscences picked up from separate research (not necessarily factual)

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