Dahl also wrote an account, in a school exercise book hidden away at the back of a drawer in his writing shed, of taking Olivia into hospital and what followed:
Awful drive. Lorries kept holding us up on narrow roads. Got to hospital. Ambulance went to wrong entrance. Backed out. Arrived. Young doctor in charge. Mervyn and he gave her 3mg sodium amatol. I sat in hall. Smoked. Felt frozen. A small single bar electric fire on wall. An old man in next room. Woman doctor went to phone. She was trying urgently to locate another doctor. He arrived. I went in. Olivia lying quietly. Still unconscious. She has an even chance, doctor said. They had tapped her spine. Not meningitis. It’s encephalitis. Mervyn left in my car. I stayed. Pat arrived and went in to see Olivia. Kissed her. Spoke to her. Still unconscious. I went in. I said, “Olivia… Olivia.” She raised her head slightly off pillow. Sister said don’t. I went out. We drank whiskey. I told doctor to consult experts. Call anyone. He called a man in Oxford. I listened. Instructions were given. Not much could be done. I first said I would stay on. Then I said I’d go back with Pat. Went. Arrived home. Called Philip Evans. He called hospital. Called me back. “Shall I come?” “Yes please.” I said I’d tell hospital he was coming. I called. Doc thought I was Evans. He said I’m afraid she’s worse. I got in the car. Got to hospital. Walked in. Two doctors advanced on me from waiting room. How is she? I’m afraid it’s too late. I went into her room. Sheet was over her. Doctor said to nurse go out. Leave him alone. I kissed her. She was warm. I went out. “She is warm.” I said to doctors in hall, “Why is she so warm?” “Of course,” he said. I left.
Sample pages from Stephanie Messenger's book can be seen on Amazon.com. There is a summary of the book in Skepticat's review, and another at IO9.
The authenticity of Dahl's story is discussed on Berkshire Skeptics Society's blog (which also carried Dahl's story).
See also the Wikipedia article on Melanie's Marvelous Measles
Comments? please email me
My name is Glyn and I live in Adelaide South Australia.
I am a Registered Nurse and I worked in paediatrics for ten years. In that time I saw three children who had become very disabled following complications from measles. These children had suffered from Sub Acute Sclerosing Pan Enchepalitis, SSPE.
These children had, as a result of the infection suffered major brain injuries and as a result were totally dependent on others for all aspects of their care. All three children died in their teens from complications of being bed or chair fast.
Like the UK many parents in Australia choose not to allow their children to immunised I believe that America has the right idea, it should be compulsory.
Glyn Crisp RN