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The waiting room

I’m back at the hospital with my son … waiting.

No, not in a room, but in a corridor.

Today we had to see the eye specialist – this meant eye tests, eye drops that sting, bright lights being shone into his eyes, and someone holding his eyelids to get a better look. He can’t stand any of these things. It doesn’t help that he keeps having bleeds in one of his eyes which means he can’t see out of it. It all gets a bit frightening. We live with such uncertainty.

We sat in a different corridor today. This one was carpeted. The Eye Department is temporarily housed in a rather run down building which used to be the old nurse’s hostel. Some of the floors are still being used for as a hostel.

We arrived at 9.20am.

Our appointment was for 9.45am.

At 10.15am we were still waiting.

We were seated in a long line of seats positioned along the corridor walls. There were still plenty of people ahead of us but I could see the door to the doctor’s room.

Everyone was silent as they waited for their name to be called.

The specialist came out of his room and walked past us. He made no comment and didn’t acknowledge our presence.

We kept waiting.

Waiting ...Time ticked by.

Eventually we saw the doctor walking back towards his room. No one had moved. No ones name had been called.

As the doctor walked past us another doctor came up to him and said: “Have you got time for a chat?”

“You’ve got to be kidding,” I thought. My mouth remained closed. No words came out.

I waited with bated breath for his response.

“Yes, off course,” replied my son’s doctor. I looked at him incredulously.

“Don’t you realise I have a job to go to,” I wanted to say.

My son was restless beside me.

Everyone watched the two doctors go into the room. I wondered if they had any idea of how the people felt that were waiting.

This experience was all too familiar to me. I always feel as though my time doesn’t matter. I am unimportant. The doctor doesn’t have to worry about what we might have had to go through to get to this appointment. Ironically there is no tolerance if we are late, and they have to wait for us. The message is: their time is precious, ours is not.

This is a public hospital after all. I should accept that we are privileged to have this kind of health service. I feel pressure though because I need to get to work.

Fortunately I had brought some papers with me to read because I knew what might happen. I kept reading.

10.30am came and went.

“I hope someone comes for me,” said my son. “Otherwise this will have been a waste of time!”

“They will,” I replied.

At 11.15am we heard the words “Damian Miliszewski”. We jumped up – it was our turn!

Oh, wait, we were seeing the registrar. I knew immediately how this would unfold. Sure enough, after the registrar has poked and prodded he informed us he needed to talk to the specialist. He looked serious. I wondered what was going on. Then in walked the specialist. He poked and prodded Damian. He looked at the notes. He struggled to read his own writing. This really inspired confidence. Eventually he told us what he thought the current situation was. Things had improved since the last visit which was wonderful.

Oh yes, and he wanted to take some photographs of the inside of Damian’s eye as well. Did we mind? Of course not, we were obliging. This is my son’s health we are talking about.

“Are we ever going to get out of here,” I wonder.

At 11.30am Damian and I walked out of the building.

I am now sitting here wondering what on earth I am complaining about.

I am reminded of the terrible things people must endure on a daily basis. Even for my son, today’s experience was nothing more than an inconvenience. He has been through many worse things which I would never wish on another person.

My lesson for the day has been:

  • Look after yourself and your body (which includes your mind). When you are healthy you have the most wonderful gift. Nurture it. You don’t realise what you have until it is compromised in some way.
  • Make the most of every day because it could be your last.

There’s a practice called “Death Meditation” in Tibetan monasteries … To put it simply, you just wake up in the morning and stay there in bed, lying down, without opening your eyes. And you say to yourself: “I’m going to die tonight. What would be the best thing to do with the rest of my time?”
Crossroads Dispatches

I have realised that we are very, very lucky. Things could be so much worse. I know we are waiting for the unknown to strike. However, in the meantime my son is well cared for medically and every other way. We are all there for him.

We hugged each other. He smiled at me. I realised this was what it was all about. This moment in time. He knew he was not alone. He was alive and so was I. I needed to forget the things that really didn’t matter. They are merely petty annoyances.

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