One family, one house
António went to the hospital afraid but hoping to be healed.
When he entered he underwent a rigorous medical examination that included an exhaustive photographic record of the disease injuries. A huge questionnaire on symptoms, family history and economic and social conditions, whose answers were filled out by nurses, doctors and social workers, resulted in the completion of several forms.
The same happened with his daughter, his wife and his mother-in-law, also with Hansen’s disease.
The diagnosis was lepromatous leprosy.
The house assigned to them was located in one of the neighborhoods that the hospital had and was much better than the tent where they lived. It had piped water and electricity, as well as a backyard where it could have a vegetable garden and raise chickens and rabbits.
The drugs were provided by the Hospital, and administered by injection. There, they had all kinds of medical follow-up, including dentist.
The disease had phases of regression and phases of reactivation, which were quite painful. Sometimes there were other complications, which doctors called inter-occurrences, which deserved more prolonged follow-up, and in some cases surgeries. They regularly harvested for analysis in the hospital’s laboratory.
António improved a year after entering the hospital, and was able to work. He learned the craft of shoemaking and his wife learned to sew and embroider. They collaborated in the work brigades and received a remuneration for their work, which they accumulated in the future to provide for expenses that arose.
The daughter also learned the first letters with the sisters of S. Vicente de Paulo, and there she made her first communion. Schoolmates did not exclude her.
From time to time António’s concertina filled the small parties and balls in the nucleus in which they lived with joy.
There they were far from everything, they had to comply with rules they were not used to, but they were together and did not go hungry or cold.
(Based on documents from the HCRP Archive. Research and writing by Cristina Nogueira – CulturAge)