It was the strangest of days. She should have been speaking somewhere that afternoon, but she had cancelled as she did not feel too well. She was lying on the settee. Her husband was home from work as it was his day off. She needed to go to the bathroom, and got up and walked to the bottom of the stairs when suddenly, for no known reason, he was behind her, pushing her roughly down onto the stairs. He began thumping her back heavily and hard. She had no idea why he did it but he was always hitting her anyway so she was used to it. It was not so much the thumping and hitting that bothered her, fierce though it was. No, it was what happened next.
Suddenly, she felt something gurgling in her chest, a little like having a chest cold, only different, when suddenly something loosens and you can cough it up. Only it felt much more gurgly and thinner than mucous. She began to cough, and it spurted out of her, frothing as it came out. Blood. Pure blood. No mucous, but just blood. As soon as she had coughed one lot out, more spurted out, as the gurgling continued. It was as if it was pouring out of a tap. Blood. Just blood. It came out so easily. No effort. It was all over her hands, on her T shirt, on the stairs. Blood. Nothing but blood.
Her first thought was that her husband had done some internal damage and that was the cause of the blood pouring out of her. In fact she felt certain that that must be it. But it didn’t stop. It continued.
Alarmed, her husband went to the telephone in the living room and rang to doctor’s surgery. It was the days before mobile phones and when doctors were available at the surgery. Within a few minutes the doctor had arrived at the house. He looked at her, examined her, and shooed her off to bed, telling her in no uncertain terms not to get out, then left, saying he would be back in the morning. But the blood began pouring out of her mouth again, and breathing was difficult. She was drowning in blood! Her husband called the doctor and he returned immediately to the house, whereupon he called an emergency ambulance.
It is hard to say what she felt in all this time. She was convinced that her husband had damaged her, but now she was going to the hospital anyway.
The ambulancemen carried her out of the house into the ambulance, having wrapped her up in a beautiful pale blue blanket. The blood continued to pour out of her and as it went onto the beautiful blanket, she was more concerned about the blanket than she was about herself. How would they get that stain out? She voiced her concerns to the ambulancemen, and they told her not to worry about that but they would send her the cleaning bill.
One of the ambulancemen sat with her all the way to the hospital, and, being frightened of needles at that stage, said said to him, anxiously,
“They won’t stick needles in me will they?”
“No luv, of course they won’t,” he said.
Upon arriving at the hospital, she was taken into a private cubicle where they immediately stuck a needle into her!
The blood continued to come out of her lungs, but gradually it was beginning to slow down. They had given her a container to spit the blood out into.
It only took a couple of days.
“You have tuberculosis,” the doctor said to her. “You will be nursed in isolation for three months.”
The end of the three months arrived. She was still so very thin, but they discharged her. She walked in through the front door of their house, and her husband came up behind her and kicked her over onto the floor.