A couple of months ago, I landed in the Emergency Department of my local hospital in Sydney, thanks to what seemed like a trivial miss of a single step while coming down the stairs and a simple roll over of my right foot. I could not bear any weight on the right leg as an outcome, let alone the pain that followed. After a few hours of trying to make-believe that nothing happened, I found myself in the Emergency waiting room.
I was triaged, and X-rays was taken. I was asked to wait, and seated close to a lady with Caucasian features, who was sobbing while her husband tried to console her. In an attempt to divert attention from my injury, I tried to have a conversation with them. The poor thing had a piercing pain in her stomach due to her appendicitis playing up, and she was determined that she was not going home without removing it. She was drinking some contrast solution in preparation for a scan, and was crying in pain.
I told her my previous history of needing an elective surgery for another medical condition, and how it all helped settle my pain after the surgery. I was sure that once they remove her appendix, she will be perfectly fine, as I have seen in the cases of a couple of family members. Her hubby was thankful that there was someone to back him up in comforting his wife.
We were so engrossed in the conversation when the physio came and told me that they could not find anything nasty in the X-rays. However, they wanted to have a further CT scan done, to investigate the reason for my pain. I did the scan, and came back to the seat to continue the conversation with the lady. I tried my best to help her to look through the situation.
The physio then came back to me, for a second time, with the results of the CT scan. Things were not as pleasant as the first time. I had a hairline crack on my ankle bone which the X-ray could not locate. I had to wear cam-boots and immobilise my affected leg; and rest up for 6 weeks. I had to even ask the physio to repeat some of what he was saying because all I could think of at that point was about how I am going to manage my work and our children who are still in the primary school. I tried to imagine the pressure it would throw on my husband.
The lady next to me, who was paying attention to the physio’s words, suddenly stopped sobbing and started trying to console me. She said “look, the school holidays are on, which means you have ample time to organise drop off and pick up. The kids won’t have to go to school these days, which means you will be less stressed too. Don’t worry about food, you can buy it from somewhere for a few weeks, and slowly you will get better”, and a few other pieces of wisdom that I badly needed at that point.
When the physio came over with the cam-boots and crutches to show me how to walk with those, this lady immediately offered to hold my handbag. She had an aching stomach, still she held my bag close to her upper torso, as if she was holding my hands tightly.
And I must say that I held on to her advice tightly, once I was discharged from the Emergency Department. I took things slow and steady, and organised my family’s life around my temporary disability, all within the two weeks of the school holidays that were in front of me.
The strangest thing is that, we did not even exchange each other’s names. After all, as William Shakespeare wrote, “what’s in a name”!!