I found this pic on the internet. I know I have been here before, but I have no memory of it. Google Images identified this as the Maryknoll Hospital in Monrovia, California. Here they took care of sufferers of the lung disease known as Tuberculosis.
According to the Wikipedia website, one third of the world’s population is thought to be infected with Tuberculosis and new infections occur at a rate of about one per second.
TB, or Tuberculosis, is a highly contagious disease. It consists of bacterium that attacks the lungs and can spread to other parts of the body. If not treated, it is fatal.
It spreads through the air. You may be in a plane, catching a movie, or going to church and be breathing in those little bacteria into your lungs. Usually our antibodies can resist the bacterium, but then there’s always that one time.
As a teacher, I was required to test for it regularly. School children also need to be screened for it as well. Symptoms may include a bad chronic cough, chest pain, coughing up blood, weakness, weight loss, chill, fever, night sweats, and eventually death. It is curable these days, for the most part.
I do not know how, I was not around yet, to witness the moment my mother caught the Consumption as it was also called, but shortly after I was born she was admitted to the Maryknoll hospital. She was placed in the sanitarium there, separated from the general population. Visitation by loved ones was restricted. The treatment back then was slow, or not affective, or simply a long and painful death watch.
Because of this my earliest memories of my mother are distant and fragmented and I know that my early years being separated from her, was one of the great heart aches of her life.
Below, is the only picture I have of my mother and me as a baby. That’s my sister Teresa trying to get into that Kodak moment. It must have soon after this that she was sent to the hospital.
It took years of struggle and she was never really free from it. An operation took out most of her left lung and for the rest of my mother’s life, long after she was finally released from the sanitarium, she had to be tested for TB on a regular basis.