We’ve been here before, you and I.
The Waiting Room.
Different posters adorn the walls. Antenatal Word Clouds long since replaced by Musculoskeletal Murals.
And the patients. They are different too. No longer anxiously stroking an unknown bump, nervously avoiding eye contact with others in The Waiting Room as they await their scans. These patients rest their hands on crutches. Or support their sling encased arms with a gentle hand. Waiting for their turn, for their particular trauma to be addressed. To be healed.
They smile at you. They can’t help it. You make people smile. In your pink wheelchair, with your pink hair bows. If they feel pity for you, it soon turns to joy.
You do that to people; I’ve noticed.
Which is good, because right now my stomach is churning. My heart is racing. You see, we’ve been in The Waiting Room before, you and I. And I did not expect to be here again.
That Department has moved, the receptionist said, noting my confusion. Go through those double doors and you’ll find it.
And so we sit here again, some ten years since the last time.
In The Waiting Room.
Your name is called out. You have a name. Everyone here has a name. Of course they do. It’s how the staff know who they are dealing with. It’s how they know who is next on their list to be cared for.
Last time you were here you did not have a name. Last time you were here you quickly became an it to those who spoke of you. Including me. Last time you were here you were not known.
I wonder, if I had given you your name when we last were here, if that would have made a difference?
They said they could deal with it last time you were here. When they found out you might have an extra chromosome.
Imagine if I’d told them your name. Imagine if I’d had the courage of my convictions to have named you YOU back then. I wish I had, but I admit… I was scared. I did not know you either.
Now we sit in that room and I wonder if it’s the same chair. The trolley bed is in the same position. It’s the same room I sat in over two years before you were even born, weeks after nearly losing my life and that of your unborn sister. A room that holds so much trauma for me and, presumably, countless others.
The doctor kneels at your feet. You look down at him from your wheelchair, smiling. Laughing.
He gently wraps bandages around your badly damaged ankles and feet. He speaks tenderly to you, telling you what he is doing. Casting moulds for the support you so desperately need. He says you can have colourful casts if you like. He calls you Sweetie. He also calls you by your name. He honours you. He knows you.
This is not the first time he has treated you. Nor will it be the last. He wants only to make your life better. He knows what you need. He knows because he has met you. He knows because he has cared for many people like you before.
He knows you.
Last time you were here a doctor stood over you, whilst I patted you nervously, clutching your photograph. Many photographs were being handed out to people that day and everyday. You looked a bit like a kidney bean…. I’ve kept it, you can see it one day if you like.
You would not remember. He stood over me, over us. Kindly, gently, yet devastatingly, his words brought trauma to us both. And, moments later in the room opposite which I can see from where we now sit, another kindly professional spoke trauma over us both and even death over you. I carried you, like all the other patients in The Waiting Room that day. I also carried the leaflet they handed me, that told me what they thought I might like to do – about you.
I have no ill feelings towards them now; sitting here. Those feelings have unexpectedly gone; I don’t need to hold onto them anymore.
Instead, I carry a sadness that the Doctors back then did not know what the Doctor who now kneels before you knows. I carry a sadness for every woman, every parent, who has sat anxiously in these rooms and experienced trauma; whatever decision they made, however they made it and whatever their outcome. So much fear, often but not always, of the unknown.
Fear causes stress and stress fractures.
Yet in this unexpected moment, my sadness is replaced by thankfulness. Fractures fuse as the healing process begins.
I am thankful for this room, for these other patients, for this Doctor who knows…who knows you. I am thankful that we have come to The Trauma Clinic today for it is a place not only of healing but of redemption.