28 Jan 2012

Memories, Medicines and Milestones

I changed jobs in May last year and as I continue to work in a hospital setting I was asked by my new employers to provide proof that I have received all my inoculations and that I had had chickenpox.

This got me thinking. I knew that I’d had my jabs and I have definitely had chickenpox, I still have a couple of scars on my belly from where I scratched. I even remember the smell and lovely cool sensation of the bright pink calamine lotion that was spread all over my itchy self, but I couldn’t remember the exact year I had it. I do know that I caught it first, gave it to my brother (so it was after 1984) and then the pair of us gave it to my dad. My mum maintains that she has never had chickenpox, and she didn’t catch it then either (I think she’s actually a witch). I know now that it is a lot more severe when caught as an adult so I’m very glad I got it as a youngster.

On a trip home sometime during last year I was looking for some hangover curing paracetamol in our ‘medicine cupboard’, which incidentally is right above to the ‘chocolate cupboard’ (also useful when hungover) and I found a tub of calamine lotion. It was the same tub that was used on me as a kid, the expiry date was 1985 I think, so that’s the year I got chickenpox.

Another childhood illness I remember getting is Mumps. I remember it because it was really quite uncomfortable but I got to eat ‘Fab’ ice lollies to help make me feel better.  ‘Fabs’ are still my go-to ice lolly when I have a bad throat and they saw me through many bouts of tonsillitis too. I don’t remember the year I was Mumpified either but I know it was before I had to go and get my MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) injection.

Having to get the MMR, that did not make me happy. On the way to the surgery to get the injections we stopped by what used to be a field to stroke the horses. I was happily feeding one of the mares some grass but I must have not had my palm completely flat and the delightful thing bit me. I was convinced that it had my hand and half my forehand in its mouth, but I think I must have been in shock. But I had an injection to be given so my mum took me along to see the nurse. The field was next to the surgery and you could see it from the window in the nurse’s office. The nurse pointed out the horses to distract me then stabbed me with the needle. It hurt. It hurt lots. And I don’t even think I got a lollipop.

I blame the horse. I found out later that those horses belonged to one of my PARRY cousins. So not only did I get bit and distracted before being stabbed by the creature, it was a relative’s creature.

Moving on a bit in my medical history, I used to get tonsillitis quite a bit. It got to the point where I’d walk into my doctor’s room and sit down, tell him I had tonsillitis and he’d prescribe that lovely banana flavored antibiotic. Unfortunately he stopped prescribing that and started telling me (quite rightly) it was viral so the antibiotics wouldn’t work. So I would eat Fab’s. My brother suffered a lot with his tonsils too, and he hates banana so I imagine it wasn’t much fun for him!

At school I remember having to queue up to have our BCG (Bacillus Calmette-GuĂ©rin) to protect against TB. They stick you with six needles on your forearm first to see if you’re already immune. My six bumps didn’t raise themselves quite high enough so I had to have the full jab. Luckily I didn’t scar, however about six weeks later a “friend” burned me with a cigarette end on the dance floor in a club to get my attention on the same spot. That did scar. One of the girls I was at school with fainted after she was given her jab. It’s odd what stays in the mind.

I also remember having typhoid, diphtheria and polio. I didn’t mind the polio one because it was a sugar cube.

Then when I went to university in 2000 there was a meningitis outbreak occurring and so everyone had to get their meningitis C vaccinations. I don’t really remember this one hurting, just that I got it done in Liverpool.

The other jab’s I can remember having I remember because they were recent and for pleasurable reasons (mostly). Holiday jabs; tetanus / diphtheria / polio booster (all in one jab - what happened to the sugar), Hepatitis A, typhoid, and for work Hepatitis B.

The only inoculation I wasn’t given as a child was for whooping cough. My mum told me it was because there was a proven link between the jab and epilepsy (there is epilepsy in the family). I don’t believe that children shouldn’t be given vaccination injections. We have come a long way since the cramped, slum conditions of pre-industrial Britain, medicine has also come a long way and anything that can safely prevent diseases such as diphtheria, polio, and measles must be a good thing and really should be taken advantage of.

Whilst at home for Christmas this year I had to ask my mum to dig out my immunisation record as my GP notes still hadn’t made it my current surgery (2 years after registering) and, of course, she still had it! As you can see from the picture the incident with the horse happened in 1992, when I was 10. The evil six-needled BCG was in 1996, when I was 14 so a bit later than the ‘approximate age’ recommended by the Health Authority. I don’t remember having the measles booster in 1994 but I’m sure I didn’t enjoy it! Bless my mother, she even noted down my receiving the Meningitis C jab in 2000.

Original record held by my mother; photo taken December 2011

Original record held by my mother; photo taken December 2011
I also found a list of my first words ‘aged 21 months’.

Wo-wow” is dog, the dog that we had when I was growing up was a lovely Labrador-cross called Sam. Sam was brilliant, very mild-mannered and well-tempered. He used to let me ride on his back. He was 14 when he had to be put to sleep because his back legs went. That was a horrible day.

Sciusscus” is scissors. My mum, amongst other things is a seamstress. Apparently this was often followed by my mum saying “No”, which is also on the list!

Ballone” is balloon, but I have no clue as to why this, or “fluff” is on the list.

Sausauge” is sausage, and I still love sausages, and tea, and pop!

I’m quite shocked that ‘daddy’ isn’t on this list, and I’d like to think that mum just forgot to write it down. Especially as “Paul” is on there! He’s my cousin.

Original record held by my mother; photo taken December 2011

Mum also noted some of my illnesses. I caught chickenpox on 2nd January 1988, aged 6. The ‘operation wrexham 15.4.97 for teeth’ relates to when I had to go to Wrexham Maelor Hospital to have orthodontic surgery to removed one of my baby eye-teeth, and expose the adult tooth that was in the roof of my mouth. It was then brought forward using elastic bands. I had full ‘train-track’ silver braces for a good few years thanks to crowding of my lower teeth. Mum also recorded the exact date that I broke my wrist as being 23 July 2006. I was 24 and probably should have known better! Curiously mum hasn’t recorded the date I caught mumps.

Original record held by my mother; photo taken December 2011

 And finally, as part of my immunization record, my weight record. Although it wasn't updated for very long after my birth (only a year, and the final year should be 83, not 82) I'm happy to see my birth weight as 7.4 oz and it looks as though I put weight on steadily.

Original record held by my mother; photo taken December 2011

So there we have it, my mini-medical record out there for all to see. Oddly as I was composing this post there was a discussion on The Guild (of One-Name Studies) forum about childhood diseases.