Meet Maureen Thompson

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This time you more or less get two for the price of one!
I’m Maureen Thompson, wife of Ray, who puts the Village Pump together. As an RAF Officer, Ray was posted to different bases in different countries. So though I always had plenty of responsibility supporting him, I don’t think I can say I had ‘a career’. Well, read on, and see what you think.
I’m the first born of Robert and Connie Watts. Both my parents were the seventh child of their parents, my grandparents. My Dad was a radio repair man with a side line in wind-up gramophone repairs and piano tuning. My Mum was a barmaid in spite of being teetotal.
Grandad Watts was an engine driver for the LNER. Occasionally he had the honour of driving the Flying Scotsman. One of his ancestors were said to be involved in the construction of the Suez Canal
A real stroke of luck changed my parent’s lives. Dad won £400 on Littlewoods Football Pools in 1935 and at that time this was enough to pay a deposit on a house in Rugby, to buy a small car and get married.
Mum and Dad lived in that house for the rest of their lives and I was born there. I must have been reluctant to enter the world. For my first few years, I had scars from the forceps used to persuade me to come. My Dad enlisted in the RAF when WWII began in 1939 and was posted to Malta, so it was five years before the next baby, my sister, was born. Three more babies came along, and finally, a brother. The last two weren’t born until after I was married and I’d had my first baby.
Perhaps because many teachers had also joined the forces, my first school, Eastlands in Rugby, gave us little education. As Dad was away in the RAF and Mum had to help the war effort by working at Lodge Plugs as well as taking in lodgers, there was little scope for them to make up any deficiency.
But Dad had taught me to knit and to use a sewing machine, both really useful skills, so I became proficient at making my own clothes. I’ve photographs of my son in a knitted two-piece, and my daughter in dresses run up from various remnants.
At 11, I moved to Dunsmoor School where, once again, education was minimal. I can’t remember being taught how to write correctly, though I was always a voracious reader. In my teens, I’d often read 2-3 books a day, and must have been the keenest user of Rugby Library. My overriding memory of Dunsmoor School is the Headmistress. A no-nonsense disciplinarian who was determined that none of us would become a secretary. For some odd reason, she considered that to be the lowest of the low.
When I left school at 14 I went to work at British Thomson Huston (BTH) where I trained to become a photographic assistant. I spent many tedious hours touching up black and white photographs of various machines the company was developing – and looking forward to the clocking-off alarm so I could return to my books.
Being naturally shy, my parents encouraged me to join the Rugby Theatre where I spent several years working in the wardrobe department. I learned all sorts of tricks. How to make hats from sanitary towels and dresses out of curtain material. I also made a lasting friendship with a girl violinist in the theatre orchestra. Later, she was one of my bridesmaids.

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What Does the Doctor Think – September

 

I know that many of you readers are kind enough to be concerned about my health problems since my failed hip replacement a year ago which caused me to retire precipitately at 71 years old. This retirement is still a great source of sadness to me. ” Howmsomever, be that as it may” as they say in Norfolk. I also know how the rumour mills work so, as so many of my readers have been with me for decades, I hope you will indulge me if I give you the facts.
The hip wound has been oozing for a year and no one seemed able to sort it it out. On July 14th, I was tired, with tearing back pain. On 15th, I was exhausted and , that night, my pulse rose to 160, breathing rate to 60 and I was drenched. First thing Sunday morning, I could not stand up so I rang for an ambulance, diagnosis being atypical heart attack or the dreaded sepsis which carries a 30% mortality. Happily, a blue light ambulance arrived within ten minutes and whisked us into the West Suffolk Hospital where they were on the case instantly, diagnosed sepsis and started the life saving intravenous antibiotics which I must have for twelve weeks.
Looking for a cause for the sepsis, they found a solid abscess attached to the spinal cord. This involved a trip in a private ambulance (van) to the specialist unit in Ipswich where six eminent spinal surgeons convened and decided that the threatened spinal surgery with rods fitted was not necessary and that the antibiotics should deal with it.
Next potential source of infection was the metalwork put in the hip a year ago so that needed to be removed. I shall not be able to weightbear on the right leg for 12 weeks and then a new hip may be fitted. I went in for the artificial hip removal surgery at lunchtime on August 31st and woke up in the Intensive Care Unit at 1.30am the next day after various problems during surgery. I asked the nurse to telephone Management to reassure her. “It’s 2am, we’ll wake her up”. “She will not be asleep, just start the conversation with He is OK”. Sure enough, Deannie and Charlotte were sitting in the kitchen, looking at the telephone and, after an initial heart leap, were mightily relieved to hear the news. I had a chat with Deannie and asked her to telephone our son, Calum who later told me that, although he was awake, he nearly had a cardiac episode when he saw the caller ID on the telephone. At the moment, ten days later, I am still in the Critical Care Unit and I have a concrete spacer sitting between the femur and a very sore, raw reamed out socket full of nerve endings so the pain is exquisite, requiring opiate painkillers which help a bit but cause bad dreams.
In the first dream, I was so weak I dropped my two month old grandchild down a flight of concrete stairs. The sound of the skull exploding as it hit the concrete will haunt me forever, even though it was only a dream. The second dream concerned the moment when you either lived or died. We were all marshalled and those who were carrying a pair of something (e.g. slippers, gloves or, at a pinch, spectacles) were allowed to live. All I had was a power drill so I was doomed. Happily, at that moment, I woke up. In the third dream, all the patients except me turned to ice cream and melted. The nurses poured all the ice cream into a bowl and tried to make something useful. Having failed, they poured all the liquid down the sluice and enjoyed a quiet shift!
I am still undergoing extensive tests, looking for sources of infection which could affect me in the future, and I have to have intravenous antibiotics every four and a half hours (six hours at night). More work for Deannie! I should be coming home for a time, hopping on one leg, before they fit a new hip in a few months time. Enough about me and I apologies to those who have been bored!
All this has hit my beloved Management , Deannie, my rock and my soulmate very hard. Verging between terror and exhaustion, she has really been wonderful. I was describing to a Portuguese nurse how, never willingly separated, we are like two peas in a pod. Back came the confused query “to p*ss in a pot?”

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