Sanitatem

The halls are eerie. Empty chairs where there used to be visitors. An abandoned coffee shop – the seating stacked on the table like patio furniture stacked away in winter. When will this winter end though? The hospital staff, very friendly, share a knowing look with me. They too wonder. The third wave is subsiding. We must prepare for the fourh one in December says the lady that draws a vail of blood. There is a deep exhaustion on everyones faces, in everyones eyes.

My body, racked with pain, kept me up all night. If they could locate the source of this torment, it would be a great relief. But then again, that is what I am here for. “You are sure this is a necessary admission” the friendly man at the desk asks me. “Yes” I reassure him. Quoting my doctor, I retort that the urgency of my admission outweighs the pandemic. Can you imagine? I needn’t be admonishing I tell myself, he is only doing his job.

I wake up early. A bit unstable. A bit annoyed . I struggled to sleep through the pain, I only drifted a few hours ago. No, I don’t want my bed sheets changed at 5am I try and say as courteously as possible for someone that just woke up from a very brief sleep.

I venture outside for a cigarette. I forget that my hair is purple. It is the changing of the guard. The new set of nurses – day staff – file out of a taxi. The hair a firm favourite amongst the gaggle of fabulous female nurses. However, I do get reproachful looks when I waddle past the ward full of male boomers. Fuck them, I think. But then pity washes over me. Some of them probably would have liked to have had purple hair – but they are so locked up in the confines of their generation. 

I return to my room through the eerie halls. My bed is made, my room neatened. A tinge of guilt. Maybe it is not so bad having your bed made at 5am. 

The day guard is not so friendly. I hate to say it, but it is the white people that think they are above their station. Somehow elevated. What is a simple “hello” whether you are a receptionist or a sweeper. One can’t even blame covid fatigue. Maybe it is my strange appaerance. Who can say.

The other captivating musing is how close one is to the veil. I heard the first cries of a new born – what a strange world to be born into. No doubt there are some folks in my close proximity that whose hour-glass’s sand is rapidly running out. Somehow mortality gets amplified when you are in here. 

Tests are done. Nobody is telling me much. I am feeling left in the dark. I know the day of reckoning will come. I trust that they will compile the facts. Hopefully we’ll all walk away feeling like we have solved this strange and painful riddle.

Time is a fickle friend in this place. I have to check my phone multiple times a day to see what day it is. One’s cycles are measured by food, pills, naps, tests, doctors visits, and a fresh set of nurses. To the latter, the more conservative Afrikaans white staff I am a bit of a enigma that they are a slightly wary of at first. To the rest of the staff (of colour) I am an exotic bird and they are curious to get to know me. It is a pity that the blemish of subtle, inherent racism tints my stay here. Do not get me wrong, no one is mean to one another. The way I grew up and now in my personal adult life my antennna is always acutely activated for those subtle nuances.

I did not wake in a particularly good mood this morning. I know there are some invasive procedures that need to be done on me today. The first day I truly feel like a test rabbit. It is for my own good, I try and tell myself. I am also acutely aware that I need to.   burst my doctor’s bubble of optimism today by telling him that I have seen some of the reports and that is time that all the players reveal their cards. I know this will happen eventually. I am just a person that prefers the band aid to be ripped off quickly, regardless of the pain it might cause. I am a truth seeker. 

The grace of some of these ladies that work here is remarkable. Twelve hour swifts can’t be easy on anyone, let alone those that glide so gently between the veils. I had an embarrasing moment yesterday, and they handled it as if I asked for a cup of coffee. That, to me, is the true definitition of the word poise. 

I also ask myself why I am sharing this on such a public platform, for this is such a personal experience. I have a simple answer to that – it keeps me disciplined to post somewhere each day. A dairy you need to keep. And a space to look back on my state of mind whilst I am here Not that I am expecting people to scamper to see my latest story.

I do not have a lot of internet and cell phone reception in my room. My private room. I consider myself lucky, and not that like I am carrying a burden at all. Well, apart from the obvious. But it gives me time to reflect. Time to compile what I want to write in my head first, whilst I am outside. Chainsmoking. A habit that needs to stop. But not now – there is too much going on. My body is sensitive to stress, in the archaic sense of the word.

To be in the medical field I think requires a special type of person. You either have the sensitivity or not. You are either that sort of angel, or you are not. The nursing staff has such a humble nature of tending to one. I witness a lot of these beautiful things. 

The same goes for doctors…you either have it, or you dont. Especially the kind of doctors that are tending to my case. It takes a lot of courage to know that you have practiced for 20 years, but still have the humility to say…”I dont know”. I can write about this, because I have had an experience where a young, arrogant doctor – a neurologist – pretended to know, and left me worse for wear. That is arrogance. It takes humility, even if you are on the top of the medical food chain to doubt yourself. Humility vs Arrogance is the theme for the moment.