He arrived alone, a thin man in a white shirt with light blue checks, the top buttons undone. He matched the shirt with shorts and slippers and his hair was uncombed.
Had he fasted? the radiation therapist asked. Yes, since 6 am. That’s more than 3 hours, she said, so we can see you next.
When he finished, he told the therapist he had a fever every afternoon. He declined her suggestion to see the doctor on duty.
You can call for an appointment with your doctor anytime, she said. You don’t have an appointment now but you can call and make one if you need. The number is on your card, let me show you.
I have so many questions. The shirt was too loose, was it someone’s discard or was it his own shirt and he’d lost weight? Does he have family? Does he know how ill he is? How does he cope? Who made the appointment for radiation therapy? Why doesn’t he have another appointment?
On another day at the clinic, there was another old chap. I slowly realised he was actually chaperoned by two nursing home staff who sat far apart from him.
He looked like any other patient waiting his turn except he echoed what he heard in a soft, high-pitched voice. When the nurse called a patient’s name, he would repeat the name in his falsetto. When the appointment board chimed, he would echo that too, “Bing Bong!”
I can still hear him, “Bing Bong!”
7 thoughts on “Hospital scenes”
Sad, touching, and all too true, a world which most do not realize exists. Thank you.
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I didn’t now how to reply, but I think your comment sums up what I wanted to say too. Thanks. 🙂
I have found myself living in the world of caregiving with first my parents and now my sister. It’s been such a hard few years.
So sad, and so true
Such sad scenes but so true as sufferers here tend to suffer alone, devoid of family support, which is a shame. I have constantly mooted for help for such cases but volunteers are few and far between – no sustaining factor. Heart is willing but body unable to do so as personal choices come first. I hope the social dynamics can and will change.
I have had similar encounters as I accompanied either my mother or my brother on their appointments – each going through dementia – my brother also having cancer. It seemed that each time I’ve sat with them in a hospital waiting room there was someone in the room waiting for an appointment who seemed to be waiting alone. Particularly sad were the ones who arrived at Radiation Oncology without a “someone” with them. That made me so sad, but also made me resolve in my heart to never let my mom or my brother go to appointments without me with them.
Good of you to be the hospital companion.
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