Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME" by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 237-240)

"The next day was Sunday and I decided to forego the proposed tour for the day as my leg was aching and I feared it may have been strained when I fell earlier in the tour.  Without mentioning it to anybody I took a taxi to the outpatient department of Darwin Hospital, where I had to wait for a while before receiving treatment.

The hospital staff were extremely kind and gave me a thorough examination including an x-ray.  In the end they told me I had strained the ligaments on my leg a little but, with care, I could continue with the tour.  They gave me a letter for my doctor.  There was no charge whatever and I was very grateful.

Monday morning was free in Darwin and several of us took a taxi into the town so that we could draw money from the bank and do some shopping.  We returned to the hotel for lunch, but I was not feeling hungry for whatever it was they were serving and I ate very little.

Once again we loaded up to go back to Katherine from which we were cross to Kununurra in Western Australia.  Suddenly, as we reached Katherine, I began to feel ill and started to vomit in the bus, which was very embarrassing.  Fortunately I was sitting alone so nobody else was involved.

The driver realised that I was in need of medical help, and he put me off at the Katherine Hospital, which was nearby, together with my luggage.

I had immediate attention and was put on a stomach pump under the direction of a woman doctor from one of the European countries.  Without hesitation she diagnosed a strangulated femoral aneurism, called the Flying Doctor Service, and sent me back to Darwin urgently for a life and death operation.
I remember being on a stretcher in the 'plane; there was an aboriginal woman in a seat, and a number of small aboriginal children sitting on the floor.  I cannot remember anything about the flight, leaving the 'plane or arriving at the hospital.  There was a Flying Nurse on board and she took away a bag of soiled clothing which had apparently been handed to her from the Katherine Hospital.  She brought it back to me about a week later nicely washed and ready once again for use.  (Darwin Hospital today):

I can just remember them asking me if I would permit them to operate and being told that it was a case of life or death, and they took away my medical information which I always carry with me, as I am a Medic Alert patient.

From then on I knew nothing until I woke up in the intensive care ward next day.  I learned later that my daughter was asked for permission to allow them to operate that night, apparently for the protection of the hospital had I not survived.

The next couple of weeks were a nightmare as I had a stomach pump and tubes making life a misery.  The doctor told me that, once the bowel had been cut like mine had been, we had to wait hopefully for it to become ready to return to activity.  If it did not come back it would be curtains for me.

The doctor was becoming worried and sent me down to x-ray after having given instructions to the doctor in charge there.  Exactly what the instructions were I did not know but the x-ray doctor who was also a woman refused to carry them out as she said she was sure I would not survive the treatment.  However, she put me on the x-ray table and turned me from side to side and up and down and really gave me 'the works'.  Her treatment must have been effective because the next day the organs started to play their part.  Apparently I had been on the danger list up to that point and it was only then that the family were advised that I would be O.K.

It was a wonderful relief to be stripped of all my tubes and feel a human being once more, although I was only permitted to have sips of water for twenty-four hours.  After that I was on 'fluids only' for a time and then gradually returned to light meals.  I feel I owe my life to those two women doctors.

Staff members at Darwin Hospital were marvellous.  Darwin is a transition spot and few people stay there very long.  We were told that there are 45 different nationalities in Darwin, (I imagine there are many more than that these days) and many of the staff came from different parts of the world, but all were equally pleasant and helpful even when they were unable to speak English fluently.

We had one male nurse - a newcomer - and it was a good thing he had elderly women to guide him.  He was terrified to come near us and was inclined to panic at the slightest thing. By the end of a week he was treating us like his mother, and we were able to keep him on a level keel, although we were still in danger of receiving an unexpected shower of water when he was bringing in a bowl for us to wash hands and face.

It was from this man that I heard there had been a great deal of running to and fro and general upheaval on the night of my operation.  On learning my name he said "Good gracious, you were the one there was such a fuss about", but I could never discover what actually happened.

As soon as family and friends in Perth heard that I was in Darwin Hospital they sent me wonderful bouquets of flowers by air (eight arrived on one day) and asked their relatives and friends in Darwin to call on me.  (Unfortunately our family had no-one in Darwin).  Although so far from home I was never without visitors or flowers, and telephone messages reached me daily in addition to letters from home.  Although at the other end of the continent I was never lonely and the beautiful flowers cheered me enormously.

One particularly nice visitor was the wife of the local manager of Pioneer Coaches, on which I had been travelling.   She was a very beautiful young woman and had been chosen as Lady in Waiting to one of the visiting V.I.P.'s in New South Wales.  She took me under her wing and I enjoyed and appreciated her company.

When I was ready for discharge, arrangements were made for me to travel on an express 'plane, which only made one stop at Derby.  It left Darwin at 5 p.m. and arrived in Perth at 8 p.m. and I was to be taken in and out of the 'phone by wheelchair with the 'fruit salad"."

The next episode will conclude mum's story, or at least as far as she has told it.  Did I ever mention she had wanted the title of her book to be 'FROM VENTURESOME POM TO DINKUM AUSSIE' but Access Press, the publishers in their infinite wisdom decided 'CLOCK OF TIME' sounded better.  I never worked out how they came to that decision as to me the title meant very little until you came to the end of the book itself and even then they misquoted it as you will see in the final episode. I think perhaps Mum had no option other than agree to their choice of title even though she had to pay towards the cost of printing.  I feel overall she would have been better going with Fremantle Press who were really impressed with her story and likened it to 'A FORTUNATE LIFE' which eventually was made into a film.


  1. Hari OM
    ....have to say I rather prefer your Mother's title! Bit late now &*> But deary deary me - how dreadful to have experienced that (thought i did wonder yesterday that she had apparently escaped 'unscathed' from that tumble). ...and yet, again, like the pheonix she rose!!!

    You have had your own marathon, Mimsie, typing this all out - but oh I do think it has been worth your efforts! YAM xx

    1. Once again it was impossible to keep that good woman down for very long and thank goodness for that.
      It has been quite a marathon Yam but I am not sorry I have shared the story and even though only a few people read it I feel it has been worthwhile.
      I thank you for sticking with it and enjoying it as well. xx

  2. Rather a shocking read today Mimsie. Your mum was certainly lucky to have had such speedy attention. I like thinking of her surrounded by flowers and get-well wishes as she recovered, a loving family often makes a world of difference.
    I'm wondering if the fall she had aggravated an existing condition, which led to diagnosis and treatment.

    1. As you can imagine it was a shock to all of us and a worrying week or so before we knew she would be coming home to us. Although mum had another name for the problem she told be it was a strangulated bowel and I am wondering if the fall she had on the tour maybe aggravated something that had occurred when she was hit by that car. Hard to tell what caused it; maybe she twisted as she fell.
      It was too far for any of us to travel but we were so glad she had several visitors, including some holidaying up north and friends of southerners who knew she was in hospital in Darwin.

  3. How very, very lucky that everyone was on the ball. It would have only taken one careless or ignorant person in that mix.

    1. I've often thought back on her predicament and wondered at the speed with which she was diagnosed and operated on once she reached Darwin Hospital. Thank goodness for those two women who certainly knew what they were doing. They gave us several more happy years with our mum and grandma.

  4. What an ordeal she went through. God bless the caregivers.

    1. It must have been scary for her being on her own so far from home but, in her usual fashion, she came through with flying colours.

  5. I am so glad your Mom came through all that Mimsie. Thank goodness for those two doctors.

    1. Yes Denise, those two women doctors certainly knew their jobs for which we were all very thankful. Mum was a fighter and once again fought a good fight.