After a nasty bump on my head, I had an evening in A&E. just to be sure there was nothing untoward going on underneath my precious skull.
A Friday eve in A&E isn’t the most attractive of waiting places but a very necessary one in times of need.
Five hours and counting, doing my best to be tolerant of the situation, recognising my mere humanness and that no one is more important than anyone else in this place and knowing there is always someone in a worse condition than myself is humbling.
The thoughts that I shouldn’t really be there taking up precious time and resources comes up regularly.
But after a phone call with the doctor, it was advised. So I did as I was told and joined the already full waiting room at our hospital.
A good text banter with my sister allowed for some humour for awhile and sufficed for a good post Christmas chit chat. And then tiring of the latest crossword puzzle on my phone, I took to people watching and being curious about who and what was around me. I won’t go into too much detail because a Friday eve in accident and emergency is not the prettiest of sights as tensions grow and tolerance levels dwindle as we seem to wait an eternity.
Some more tolerant or silently suffering and sighing under bated breath than others. Quite a bit of cursing goes on and a lot of criticisms of the nhs, as tiredness creeps in and night time looms.
I’m tired and so are many others, night time staff arrive and the shifts change over.
There are sounds of vomiting in corners, while pots are handed out and some demands are repetitive and at times extremely rude. The patience of staff is admirable as they calm the aggressive and offer sympathy and painkillers for those in severe pain.
Phones are a godsend in these places as chats can be heard with loved ones, videos and films watched, scrolls through social media and laughter on occasion as friends and couples share a joke that’s been discovered.
Some decide it’s time to leave as the waiting becomes unbearable.
I’m tempted myself.
The fluorescent lights reflected off the white walls are not conducive to the headache being the worst for myself to endure.
But I’ll stick with it. No point in being here this long and not seeing it through.
After all it might be in the next moment I will be called, I could miss it by seconds, I’m sure I must be next in line.
The door opens another name is called, it’s not mine. Still I wait.
Sounds of ambulances, for sure there has been an accident. I’m lucky, I’m here not being rushed in with broken bones or worse.
Mine isn’t urgent, clearly.
I think myself lucky. I check my diary for the next day. Nothing pressing, I can lie-in maybe, make up for little sleep.
More people arrive. The night is showing signs of drunken brawls, drug abuse, possibly some joy rides. Who knows, we can’t be sure unless we overhear a conversation as the news is spilled out about the evenings tales and frolicking.
The imagination can take over, wondering about a variety of ailments, each persons story and experiences. I doubt I ever get it right but it passes some time as I write these tales in my head.
I admire the young woman who has come in well prepared with knitting needles and blue wool, I wish I had brought my book!
Still I wait and now thinking ‘surely it’s getting close?’
It’s hard to hear the babies cry. Worse than the rantings of the older lady as she curses everyone and everything, quite profusely. There’s relief when she falls asleep and the vomiting has stopped.
Now I’m giving up and feel the need to take my chances and leave. Bed and sleep would be the best medicine for sure.
I tell the receptionist that it would be best. I’m told the doctor is looking at my notes in this moment and I’d be advised to hang in there as I’m sure to be next. but I wasn’t, even though I waited a bit longer. It’s been over six hours but she was called first. I felt a grudge but let it go.
Then it happened, I was called in to a very kind and friendly doctor who looked me over, checked all my symptoms, talked about my history and as we spoke I am reminded of my mothers stroke, the fall she had and the wound to her head followed by the massive stroke that killed her.
I am touched as I tell him of this part of mine and my families past. Recognising that memories like this will affect how we meet with our own injuries and sicknesses.
My mum didn’t acknowledge sickness very easily. She seemed to believe that fresh air and good food was the cure for all ills, and a disprin would suffice in very troubled times along with a cup of hot tea.
Maybe a bit more thought to checking injuries, being prompt to admit all was not right, may have saved her life. Maybe not.
But when I notice myself ignoring and pushing through pain and ignoring symptoms, not asking for help, or even self diagnosing when really I can’t be sure, I shall do my best to think of the incredible service we have and the good people who might have us waiting long hours, but nothing like the long hours they work for, keeping us well, our injuries attended to and in my case the words of reassurance.
Gratitude my brain is in good shape and I’ll never forget just how precious it is, always striving to look after it and not take it for granted.
Thank you to the doctor I saw this evening, I hope your New Year’s Eve duties don’t bring too many casualties and you get to rest well in the in-between times.
Caroline Carey
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