Fifty years ago today I was written off as a dead loss by Kingston Hospital.

What happened was my Mother had been in hospital for a few days after being diagnosed with eclamptic toxemia. Her system collapsed as the toxins built up and she became unconcious. It was at this point the doctors decided the only thing to do to save her was to deliver the baby. They could find no fetal heartbeat and it was two months too early anyway so they decided to just try and save her so she could hopefully go home to three boys (14, 12 & 8) who needed their mother. No incubator was ordered. Her blood pressure meant no chance for surgery so induction was the only option.

I, of course, started as I meant to go on and came out screaming bloody murder in indignation of being evicted from what seemed to me perfectly adequate quarters into a cold and confusing world. Getting a 1960s incubator up and running was not a quick process and the fact that they managed it in under half an hour shows a lot about the skill of the nurses.

While this was going on the doctor had the following conversation with Dad.

"You have a daughter, what do you want to call her."
"Ask her Mother"
"Your wife is unconcious and we're not sure if the baby will last the night. We need a name for the records"
"Oh bloody hell, (gives name that was later changed because they took it down wrong)"

Mum didn't know I even existed for three days, it took her that long to recover to a point where she could take in the news. She didn't see me for nearly a week because she couldn't be moved and neither could I. Dads comment on the first time he saw me was "She looks like a skinned rabbit" for which he was soundly told off by the head nurse. I spent the best part of the first two months of my life in hospital and when I went home it was dressed in doll clothes because they didn't make baby stuff that small. It would take me over half on hour to drink a bottle of milk.

The doctors comment when I was discharged was to take me home and love me but don't expect too much. My parents took little notice of this and just brought me up with the same expectations they'd had of my brothers. Do your best and muck in as needed. This is why I can use so many tools, as soon as I was big enough I was treated as an extra pair of hands when anything needed fixing, even more so after I showed a talent for it.

Now I'm married and a parent myself, a qualified engineer, respected artist, stage lighting designer and ridiculously well read. Not bad for someone who was a bit of good nursing away from being declaired dead.

God bless the NHS.
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