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I saw you there, brittle and broken on a chair, in a corner in Majors. Initially I thought you were another patient, so frail and pale, leaning forward, sobbing, in pain. But you weren’t. You were broken, hugging your lonely body, with inaudible tears in this mass of A&E chaos. Without a wrist band, you were invisible, without your name on a waiting list or a cannula in your arm, you were left there, forgotten.
I asked who you were and, after about three people, someone remembered: “Her dad has just died in Resus, so sad. But it was expected.”
“Expected” – this is a difficult one, isn’t it? I think, no matter how much you expect someone’s death, the loss, the void that you are left with – the antithesis of all the memories and all the love: they still fall heavy on your chest, making it harder to breathe. Confusion, paperwork, questions: “When do I get his body back?”, “ Where?”, “How?”, “Should I have called the ambulance earlier?”, but most importantly: “What will I do without you?” crawl inside your mind like an entropy of guilt.
I quickly evaporated myself towards the kitchen to make you a cup of tea. When I returned, I was stopped and told off because we had a long waiting list and I was delaying everything by wasting time. Since when is being kind a waste of time?
I gave the cup of tea to a nurse to bring it to you, I picked up the next patient card and tried to forget that you were there, tried to forget that my mum was just like you a few months ago: alone, lost in the middle of a whirpool of numbers, targets, codes and speed. A child brought to light from a mass of smart clothes, wrinkles and grey hair, a child that no longer has his “home” to run to when life gets too difficult to bear.
A patient’s relative once asked me: “How do you manage, little girl, to shut out after seeing so much death, and smile and continue to help, hours after hours of work?” But this is for another blog post, maybe some other time.
As this blog post is for you, I will finalize saying that I haven’t forgotten you and I hope my compassion and my tears will reach you one day.
You were never really alone.
Luanna Abbott is a junior doctor. She writes under a pseudonym
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