Like most children, I had the usual illnesses, chicken pox, measles, mumps, German measles. However the very worst, which I still remember for its severity and pain, over fifty years later, was scarlet fever. I was only eight at the time, and I may well have contracted the illness myself by accidentally falling into a scum filled stagnant lagoon which had this huge sign at the front – “Swimming Prohibited by Order of Council” on it. I had been trying to get my Mum some water lilies which grew in the lagoon for Mother’s Day and I accidentally fell into the lagoon. (Of course I never told anyone.) I didn’t tell Mum about my sore throat, and kept on taking ice cubes from the refrigerator and sucking on them. Then I started feeling hot and sweaty and had a headache so I hid in a cupboard wondering if this was what “prosecuted” meant. (I was only 8 years old.) However during the night, in bed. the fever escalated. It felt like I was about to spontaneously combust like my body was on fire. My throat was so painful I didn’t want to breathe. Eventually my moaning woke my Mum and I was rushed up to our little public hospital. By this time I was unconscious. I woke late next afternoon, to find cheerful nurses around the bed, “Welcome back, sunshine!” one said. I was given some cold jelly to suck. Delicious! Then the male Doctor came around. “Hello young lady!” he said. “Been swimming down the creek, your Mum tells us. You didn’t jump in the lagoon, did you?” Sick as I was, I still tried to lie, by shaking my head, so fearful was I of this “prosecuted” whatever it meant. “Well, never mind,” said the Doctor, “you’re going to get much better now, but you did give us all quite a scare!” Years later, my Aunt, a nursing sister, confirmed how sick I was. “You very well could have died!” So my Aunt confirmed that my young life had been saved by the doctor and nurses in our little public hospital. I remember it always, not just the pain and trauma of scarlet fever but how kindly I was treated by the medical staff. We need our public hospitals, not only in the cities, but also in the country and Far Western region of Queensland. They save lives!

Alison