Rita Richard was a patient of St. John’s hospital in Fargo, ND from October 1927 until October of 1929. This is her story of her days in the hospital and the year after.
Rita entered the hospital on October 3, 1927, after seeing both Dr. Weible and Dr. Frank Darrow and being diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) pneumonia. This was the very severe case which scared her because her brother had died of it three years earlier.
Her days in the hospital were very lonely, but became much more pleasant as the days drew on. Father Lalande, her parish priest, came often and offered words of encouragement. Sister Abigail and Sister Raphealla became very close to her and helped her keep a positive attitude. She had many doctors that came in to see her and she liked them all very much. They became her family.
When she was in the hospital for nine months, the doctors had to put a weight on her lung to help her recover. She was always very tired and slept a lot. She was not able to get up at all. Her mother surprised her on her first Christmas and spent the day with her. They both ate dinner which was prepared by Sister Roch. In the spring and summer months she was able to be wheeled out into the sun parlor and sit out there for hours on end and even sleep out there on the really nice days. Her second Christmas was a little different from the first one because she realized that she had been in the hospital for a long time which made it difficult.
In 1929 Sister Roch began teaching her dietetics. Rita also translated French papers into English. After being in bed from October 3, 1927, until March 18, 1929, she finally got to go to Easter mass in a wheelchair. On July 17 Rita got to touch the floor for the first time, and on August 6 she got to go on her first car ride. Finally on October 4, 1929, she was able to go home. After being at home for almost a year, Dr. Frank Darrow came out to her home in his airplane and took her for her first airplane ride.
She reported that being in the hospital taught her many things, including the virtue of patience, the English language, and the value of the “little things” in life.