In 1968 when I was about 18 months old, I caught double pneumonia. The Hong Kong flu pandemic had hit both my parents, but I’m not sure if I had it and it developed in to double pneumonia or not. Probably.
Anyway, my parents couldn’t take care of me at home, so I had to be hospitalized. These are some of my earliest memories, though somewhat fuzzy. I fully remember sitting in a high chair in the hall outside my room, playing with a little pink bear my parents gave me. It played Brahms Lullaby and I had it until I was in high school. By that time it had no fur left, just shiny pink nylon.
The odd thing about that memory, which I have confirmed with my parents, is that I remember it as if I were standing immediately to the left, about 10 feet away. The nurses’ station is just across the hallway from where I’m sitting and I’m bouncing the bear up and down on the tray.
I also vaguely remember Mom and Dad coming to see me while I was sitting in the high chair.
The next memory is very vivid. I’m in my hospital crib and it seems like lots of people are standing around the crib. I’m fighting and crying and one of the nurses “spanks” me. I know now that she was just patting the muscle so she could give me an injections. Everyone looking down at me are dressed in white, except for one man in green scrubs. They all wear masks. I sometimes still dream about this.
I found out later that my white blood count was almost non-existent, which explains the masks.
My final memory is really weird. This memory pops up in dreams even now, 53 years later. It is all in first person and I’m standing in the doorway, looking into a long room. One either side are cribs, but they are up high and everything seems huge. The room is dark and silent, but a white light comes from a door about halfway down on my left. The whole scene is one of silver beds, white sheets, floor and light from door, and black. I remember wandering around until I suddenly get picked up from behind and put back in my crib with a kind of net over the top.
Presumably the net was to keep me from crawling out. I confirmed with my parents that I had escaped at least once from my hospital crib at night, so this is likely a real memory. Everything was big because I was so small, of course. The weirdest feeling from this memory is that it is black and white. No color at all.
These memories just came up because of a Wall Street Journal article about the Hong Kong Flu epidemic,