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  I decided to make no reference to the possibility that she might be subjected to enemas, injections, blood tests, urine tests. I judged that such procedures were best explained immediately before they happened, and that earlier explanation might arouse unnecessary anxiety. I covered procedures in general by saying that in hospital we did not always like what the doctors and nurses did, but that they were always trying to make us better.

When I first told her of the operation I gave no details other than that it was her tonsils which kept making her throat and ears sore, and that in hospital the doctor would make her go to sleep and take them out. I told her she would be three days in hospital, and that I would be with her all the time.

During the next five weeks I gradually expanded this first statement, following the lead given by her questions and behaviour. This is the essence of the picture I built up for her:


There would be doctors and nurses looking after her and the other children. On the first day the doctor would look in her throat and ears, and listen to her chest. Next day at breakfast time she would be given a pill. Later she would smell the “funny smell” and would go to sleep for just a little while—it would be a special “tonsils sleep” and not ordinary sleep. She would go on the trolley to have the doctor take out her tonsils, and then he would carry her straight back to her cot in our little room. When she awoke her throat would be very sore, just like a really bad cold. It would be because her tonsils were out. Tonsils were like the loose skin which sometimes hangs painfully around a fingernail—it is sore after it is cut off, but next day it is better. When her tonsils were first out she would not feel well, but I would sit by her cot and read the stories she liked best. Although her throat would be sore, it would be getting better all the time. Her throat would bleed, just like her knee when she fell on it. Some of the blood might go down into her tummy, and then she would spit it up. She would feel better when she had spat it out. We would both want to go home to Daddy and Katherine (her sister), but would have to stop until the doctor told us her throat was better.

  Since long before it was known that Jean would go to hospital, there had been in our home two pamphlets showing picture sequences of children in hospital (Robertson, 1953a; Connell, l953). She became suddenly interested in these and, as will be seen in the Diary, she re­peatedly asked to have them explained to her—which I did, in a way I thought applicable to her situation. The first of these Jean refers to as “Laura,” and she selected for special attention four pictures showing— Laura sitting in a hospital cot hugging her favourite toys and looking rather sad, being visited by her mother, putting on her shoes to go home, and finally walking out of the hospital gates with her mother. The second pamphlet she calls “Tonsil Boy.” This shows a boy going to hospital to have his tonsils out, being undressed, looking at books with his mother and a nurse, being examined by a doctor, smelling the anaesthetic, sleeping in a cot with his mother by his side, sitting up to have a meal after the operation, and finally home again.