After enduring many months of agonizing, excruciating pains, in my stomach requiring constant visits to the doctor, trying all sorts of remedies and medicine, one a revolting, thick white goo, looking and tasting like wallpaper paste, the diagnosis was gall-stones. Very unusual at my age, nineteen, said Doctor Roberts, when informing me, I would need surgery to remove my gall bladder. Mum had already been through the same experience so perhaps there was a family connection.
Having had so many horrible experiences in maternity homes, that were still fresh in my mind, the prospect of needing admission to the Greytown hospital for surgery terrified me. I was now wary of hospitals forever. In the back of my mind, I was thinking, what if, something went wrong with the operation. I would never see my children again. I also worried about leaving the three little ones with their father, how he would cope as well as milk the cows.
Almost immediately after the operation, I had barely opened my eyes and come to, when a nurse told me they wanted me to get up and start walking around. I was incredulous. The stitched up zipper wound running down the full length of my middle was causing acute pain with every breath or movement, that was hardly bearable. This hospital’s theory was at the opposite end of the giving birth one. There would be zero days of bed rest here.
An older male attendant named Reg, – who had a heart of kindness – arrived to help me ease my body out of my sick bed and up onto my feet. He was a small short man and I did think, maybe, taking my greater weight on his slight body would be too much. However, with the help of his supporting arm to lean on, I managed the impossible feat and got myself upright.
With him steadying me, together we circled the wards and corridors. I couldn’t help but notice, I was doing a similar style of slow skiing walks that, old Mrs N, used to do, back in my kid, Berhampore, flats’ days. We kept up doing our rounds regularly until I was able to move with some freedom again and be deemed ready to be discharged.
I was really pleased at the arrival the little truck to take me home. Distance, kids and work had prevented any visiting and the little kids and I were happy to see each other again. The eldest boy was fascinated, when peering into the jar containing my gall stones floating in a funny colored liquid.
On one of our monthly weekends off, visiting the rellies over the hill in Wellington, mum gave us gadget, her farm friend, Mrs W, of the nine kids had recommended. It was a long plastic tube with a plunger, used to squirt some sort of cream up your jacksie before doing it, this apparently was supposed to stop you getting pregnant. Unfortunately it came too late. Fertile as rabbits, baby number four was already on the way.
Knowing there was no way I could cope for another milking season with our stressed, out of control family situation. The isolation, no money and no support with the three little ones and another on the way, were all combining to create increasing levels of violence to each other and the children. I had had enough and wanted a change, so we agreed to return to the city to see if we could do better at the end of the milking season.
The five of us squashed into the little pickup’s cab, to climb up and over the ‘Rimutakas’ for one last time, headed to Wellington City to re-start our ‘Townie’ life. With all our worldly possessions loaded on the back, and the older kids taking turns standing as there was now not enough seat room we were off. My husband had left his farm dog chained to his dog house, but he must have figured something was up and started barking madly. Stopping the truck he returned back up the path and the dog went silent. I felt too scared to ask why, but had a funny feeling perhaps he had done it in.
Feeling hopeful we might be able to get our life on track, we rented out an old two storied house, that had seen better days, situated in Holloway Road, one of the older, hilly parts of Wellington. Employment for my husband was found, working with his brother, Keith, on the afternoon shift at ‘Denhard’s’ bread factory, in Newtown.
To help cover the rent, we let out one bedroom to a lady boarder, a single lady working at nights serving coffee at ‘Carmens’, a popular new coffee bar, one many appearing all over Wellington town. A big bonus for the kids was tucking into Carmen’s left overs, fancy little cakes brought home each night and left on our table as an offering. It wasn’t until passing our boarder and a strange male, on the stairs late one night, we wondered if perhaps, she had another source of income as well as serving coffees.
The cooking and heating at this house was on gas, another new experience that required trial and error to work it out. Hot water for the bath came from something called a Califont. Using a match to set the gas flame alight was supposed to heat the water. For some reason, I never figured out, it took hours to trickle enough hot water out for a decent bath.