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20 October 2010

Posted by DMC on 20 October 2010 in Diary |

I had the worst night yesterday since my 22nd. birthday in 1956, in , Melbourne Australia when I suffered from the worst case of chickenpox “doctors had ever seen”. I was boarding at the time between flats, with Mrs Hetherington and her pretty 16-year-old daughter, in Brighton . I contracted the chickenpox as a result of  spending the night in the same bed as another man, It happened like this. Tony Carpenter and I were members of the same ski lodge, Fien, in Mount Buller, some 200 km north  east of Melbourne. We frequently went up during the season just for the weekend. On this particular occasion snow blizzard’s were forecast so we decided that we would drive up after work and spend the night at the foot of the mountain,  negotiating the narrow, winding mountain road in daylight.

We arrived at the lodging house at the foot of the mountain around midnight. Tony had made the booking by telephone over a very bad crackling line and the proprietor had misunderstood his request and thought he was booking a room for himself and his wife. So when we arrived, the prprieter looked askance and said she was very sorry that there was only one room in which there was one large brass bed. We either took that or had no bed for the night. I said to Tony, to hell with it, let’s go for it, we can always sleep top to tail, which is what we did.

I was the first to wake in the morning and when I looked at Tony I could see that his was covered in red spots. He had broken out over night with a virulent attack of chickenpox. Nevertheless we set off up the snow-covered mountain track but as soon as the authorities got wind of Tony’s condition he was whisked off in a helicopter,  with little fuss so as not to cause  panic in the resort. I was fine and stayed on for my fortnights skiing only to break out in spots myself two weeks later .When I say that I was one of the worst cases in medical history I not joking. I had a batch of sports on my head, spots on my eyeballs on my tongue and on every part of my body, all of them itching like mad. Throughout the night of my   birthday I paced the room all night going crazy with the itching and in the end poured a bottle of calamine notion over my head to give me some relief.

On the way up the mountain, the next day, we were following young Peter Brockurst, heir to the biscuit fortune, driving his father’s new car, when suddenly it slipped off the road .and hurtled  60 feet or so, down  a ravine ending upside down in a stream. We stopped and quickly prepared to descend the mountain in order to effect a rescue, apprehensive as to what we would find, when suddenly Peter appeared, grinning all over his face, clutching a bottle in each hand and saying thank God the grog was not broken. What on earth he told his father we shall never know. The car was winched up the following day

Last night came in the same category. Somehow I  had contracted laryngitis followed by a chest infection  which made it very difficult for me to breathe particularly when I lay down, supported by three pillows. Not being able to breathe made me panicky and this further aggravated the situation. Although I could relieve  it  from  time to time, by turning on my side, I remained frightened.  I asked poor Mick  to sit me up at around 12.15 AM for a short period and then tried  lying again but it was no good. I spent the next three hours or so gasping for breath, wheezing, gurgling and rattling like someone on the point of death. It was  useless, in spite of sitting up and changing position several times.  Around 04.00 AM.   Michael   kindly sat me up again and I spent the next two and half hours sitting on the edge of the bed with the duvet wrapped around one of my shoulders .and a  handkerchief and spittoon nearby. Michael appeared from time to time to encourage “three deep breaths followed by three coughs in a row, without a breath between coughs – come on – try harder-don’t just make noises in your throat”!

I felt pretty rough and very tired and spent most of the day sitting on the veranda  adjacent to our  room. At one stage I felt nauseous but that  soon  passed.  I had little to eat all day

Mick gave me some water tablets to drain off as much excess fluid from my body,  including (he hoped) some from my lungs. The only problem was I needed to pee about every 30 minutes or so throughout the morning.  We skipped our usual visit to town in the evening. Michael, stoically, also missed the evening meal. We watched a couple of videos and   attempted an early night. Michael proclaimed some improvement and then set about organising my bed.

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