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A night in hospital

We needed some answers so off we headed with mama to the Accident and Emergency Department at our local hospital. She was in agony and could barely walk, even with help. This was not normal and all our minds we were working in overdrive as we tried to diagnose what was wrong using our untrained medical expertise. By early evening mama was completely wiped out. Nothing we tried helped alleviate the pain. I didn’t know what to do and the best our local Medical Centre could offer me when I rang earlier in the day was an appointment at 4.15pm the following day.

As we were sitting at the hospital waiting to be seen, waiting for the doctor, waiting for the blood tests, waiting to have X rays, waiting for the results, waiting for a diagnosis, waiting to see what would happen next … my thoughts flittered all over the place.

… Here we go again was my first thought. As I looked around at the familiar surroundings and remembered all the hours I had spent here with my son.

“Don’t go there Marica,” said the voice in my head.

… My parents suddenly seem to have gotten older was my next thought. I don’t know exactly when I noticed this for the first time but with this realisation came another realisation – I was getting older as well. I don’t feel older but my body is sending me different messages.

“Deal with it,” said the voice.

… When the doctor was talking to my mother she used lots of medical terms and acronyms that meant nothing to mama. This completely confused her and she seemed more scared than when we arrived. Thank goodness Lynsey and I were there to translate in words that made sense.

People with the information you are seeking can hold a huge amount of power over you. You expect them to have all the answers and they certainly present as though they do, yet in reality the situation is quite different. They just have more specialised knowledge than we do.

“Remember that Marica when you’re teaching,” added the voice.

… My next thought was to take some photos: the bed – it’s wheels, the oxygen cylinder at the end, the basket for all the extra stuff, levers to move things up and down, barriers on the side, those horrible plastic mattresses that I have spent too many nights sleeping on as I stayed beside my son – these are beds set up for action, only in this instance none was needed; the selection of gloves on the walls – small, medium, large; the green call button and the red emergency button; the folding concertina like door between mama’s cubicle and the next one – I could hear the man next door call out “Is anyone there?”; and the fabric on the gown that mama had to wear with its striking pattern which consisted or blue and grey printed words saying Hospital Property – such an ingenious design which truly inspires one to feel better immediately.

Printed fabric from the hospital gown my mother was wearing

… Next it was off to radiology for an x-ray. Lynsey took some photos here of a starved rubber tree. Rubber trees reflect their life. As they run out of nutrients their leaves get ever smaller and closer together. They do their utmost to stay alive by reducing their needs. This was what was happening to the rubber tree that was stuck in the corner of the large emergency radiology waiting area (it could accommodate at least five or six parked hospital beds at least). The rubber plant appeared uncared for yet it was expected to somehow break the sterile feeling of the waiting room and make the environment more welcoming. This seemed ironic in a place where people came to for help to stay alive.

… More waiting followed. We had lots of calls on our mobile phones as members of the family wanted to know what was happening. Eventually mama was discharged.

We left the hospital the way we arrived, but we were different. It wasn’t cancer. It seemed highly unlikely it was a clot. It seemed highly probable that the pain was caused by a Baker’s Cyst which is associated with arthritis and the x-ray showed evidence of arthritis in the knee joint. Mama needed to go back to her doctor for pain management. She needed an ultrasound. Nothing more could be done. Everyone was relieved.

Mama was still in pain and was still struggling to walk but she was calmer, and to be truthful so were the rest of us. I feel grateful that we have a free public health service here in New Zealand where we receive such good care. There are so many people in the world that don’t have this option. I also feel grateful that I have my wonderful mama and that even when she is feeling terrible she can sit there and smile at me. I love her so.

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