Friday, November 20, 2009
Next step accomplished.
Thursday dawned another overcast day. By the time I got to work, it was pouring with rain again and within the hour it was blowing a gale. One of the trees in our office park suffered damage from a falling tree branch and up the road a tree had also fallen across the road, fortunately not on any passing vehicle.
If I hadn't already had a lift arranged to get down to the hospital, I may have called off the entire visit due to the horrible weather conditions. Good excuse! Anyway by 9.30am I was headed off down to the hospital with my driver.
He drove me into the hospital grounds, and even tried to enter the hospital with me, to show me where to go but a very determined security guard shooed him out, telling him to move his vehicle. The first thing I saw at the reception was a huge board with a lot of prices on it. Oh no, don't tell me they were expecting me to pay. I ran out of the hospital to try and catch the driver. He was driving off already and as I held up my hand for him to stop, he thought I was waving him goodbye and off he went. Oh well! I decided to book in and I would soon find out if I could proceed. The gentleman filled out a chart and asked me for....R20. I managed to scratch that amount together and then continued to the next area. The procedure was to book in at casualty, be first examined by a casualty doctor and then be redirected to the relevant department's doctor. After a short wait I was called and examined. The lady doctor phoned the Surgical Outpatients department who confirmed they could see me that day. Down the corridor to that department, book in with the sister and then sit on the bench to wait. Hardly sat down and I was called. After taking down my medical history, I went through to be examined again. Seriously I have taken off my shirt for four different people in the last few days. No such thing as false modesty anymore! After the examination he said that I would have an ultrasound and a biopsy and then added, as I was replacing my clothes.'Why don't we just do the biopsy now to save you coming back.' 'Oh okay, is it sore?' 'No, its just like an injection.'
I didn't look but I think obviously it was a big needle. And a rather loooong injection! I just squeezed my clothing between two fingers of each hand while trying to keep my left arm and body as relaxed as possible. And it was over. He prepared his slides, which will be sent to the teaching and referral hospital, Albert Luthuli.
Then it was over to X-Ray to find out if I could have an ultrasound. I needed directions from the reception - go down the corridor, left, at the Coca-cola machine turn right, proceed, at the white booth, turn left and you will see the xray department. The hospital is a huge maze of a building.
I could only get an appointment for an ultrasound on the 18th December so then through to the Appointments office where I made a followup appointment for the 10th December where I will receive the result of my biopsy. And I was finished.
My driver wasn't expecting me to finish so quickly and had gone back to work (in Botha's Hill) which is a considerable distance away. I had to wait outside the front of the hospital. My breast had an ache and a sting from the needle now but I passed the time quite pleasantly chatting with another patient who was also waiting for a lift. He is a young man, a quadriplegic who used to be extremely active, surfing, diving. He was diving at Port Alfred into a river mouth which was in flood, so the water was brown with silt and lots of floating debris. As he dived in or surfaced, a huge plank of wood hit him in the spine and broke it, rendering him paralysed. He was of the opinion that it was 'meant to be'. We watched another young man being delivered to hospital by private car. They took a long time to figure out how to remove him from the back seat as his helpers had decided that he had to stay immobile. He had bunked school and gone on an adventure and suffered a bad fall (?). The helpers eventually got a back board to place him on so they could lift him without damaging him further. He seemed to have suffered a bad break to his leg as it was in a splint.
As the guy in the wheelchair left with his transport, I became aware of a private car that had stopped just in front of me. The driver had jumped out and run into the hospital looking for help. A lady holding a small child was in the front passenger seat. In the back was a hysterically crying lady holding a prone patient on the back seat. She was sobbing and repeating 'I'm losing my cousin'. The patient was also a young woman in her late teens or early twenties, who seemed to have just passed away in the car. They brought the trolley and loaded her onto it. She was completely lifeless, her limbs tumbling around. Her cousin blurted out 'She hanged herself!' before the whole family disappeared into the hospital.
I was extremely traumatised by this occurrence. The family was on an island of grief and tragedy in a sea of life carrying on. I wondered what would go through the mind of a young person (or any person) to prompt the extreme decision that now was the time that their life would end. I really battled to wrap my mind around the sight of that young person and her extended family.
A constant stream of ambulances and private cars continued to bring in new patients and take away other patients. A lady was with her elderly mother. Her and her husband were collecting the old lady. She had tried to comfort the other lady who had been crying bitterly for her cousin but a moment later was verbally abusing the old lady, her own family member as they both climbed into their own car. The old lady could hardly walk and was trying to get into the back seat. "Hurry up, I can't always be looking after you. You're always talking to people!' I was aghast!
My own lift arrived but the scenes of the past hour whilst I had been waiting at the entrance stayed on my mind. How poignant it all is. Life and death and grief and impatience and care - a whole melting pot of human emotions stirred together. People watching at its most extreme!