Thoughts & Memories: Pat


Patricia Bryant, resident at Heritage Lodge, takes us back in time sharing her miraculous stories of willpower, reminding us of the indescribable family bond that inspires and motivates us in the hardest of times.

Born in Sydney, Pat lived with her family at Guildford. At the age of four, her family relocated to Hurstville. Pat and her siblings were raised primarily by her mother as Pat’s father was an active serviceman, his presence was often missed in the household.

A short while after the move, Pat’s family went to visit a relative. It was on this innocently planned trip where Pat experienced a terrible accident, falling six-feet from a veranda onto a concrete path. Pat’s mother, with all the children in tow, walked her family to the nearest surgery where he announced that Pat had broken her left collar bone. Strapping it up, the doctor sent her on her way to recuperate.

“I did recover but had a noticeable limp which at the age of eleven my mother kept reminding me not to limp.”

On Mother’s Day of 1943, Pat and her family were visiting her grandmother. It was on this trip that Pat would yet again fall, but this time down a flight of twenty-four stairs. Following the accident, she was promptly rushed to the emergency department at St George Hospital where, after x-rays were taken, the doctor revealed to Pat’s mother that she had arthritis in her hip.

Pat was then plastered from the waist down to the ankle. While recuperating at home, Pat’s mother would tend to all her personal care. Unfortunately, this also included accidentally rolling Pat over and breaking her cast. As unfortunate as this seemed at the time, it instead became a blessing in disguise, as Pat explains,.

“The attending doctor at the hospital ordered the removal of the cast and performed a Mantoux Test. The results of this indicated that I had Tuberculosis (TB) in my hip.”

Following the diagnosis, Dr Webb ordered Pat to be plastered from her armpit to her ankle on both sides. The doctor recommended having Pat moved to the then Crippled Children’s Hospital at Pymble. This was a very hard decision for Pat’s mother, given it was on the North Shore and quite a trek to get to with all her children, however, having her daughter’s very best interests at heart she allowed them to transfer her.

The doctors decided that Pat’s hip needed to be grafted to prohibit any bending and risk twenty years not being able to bend at all. The TB remained dormant, and Pat stayed in the hospital for three years. Pat returned home to her mother’s care and went on to live and work a good life.

One of Pat’s passions is knitting, a talent passed down by her mother who taught Pat how to knit during her long stay in hospital.

Today, Pat’s knitting skills continue to be well utilised as a member of Heritage Lodge’s Knit & Natter group. This group of enthusiastic knitters meet regularly and put their casual chatter to use by knitting away for multiple projects. The group is currently working together on a project of knitting scarves for those who need to keep warmer in the winter months.

Pat’s voracious talent for knitting has not slowed down. One of her most proud achievements has been to knit over 500 beanies for local charities. If you live in Murwillumbah and surrounding suburbs, there’s a good chance that the beanie you own was knitted by Pat!

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