Sitting in a hospital, looking at the cold, uncaring white walls, surrounded only by beeps and the sound of people being wheeled around, is stifling. The oppressive sights and sounds and cramped spaces of waiting rooms.Seeing someone that you love in such a terrible state and then just having to sit there, helpless, waiting to know whether they’ll live. Whether you’ll see them smile again.
It’s really the helplessness that makes waiting so bad. You can’t do anything. Just sit and watch the minutes pass. Tic-toc, tic-toc. The world doesn’t stop when someone you love does. Everyone and everything keeps going on around you while you are stuck. Suspended in a state of ‘What if?’. What if they don’t make it? What if I don’t get to say goodbye? What if I missed my chance to tell them what they mean to me? What if? The questions are torture because deep down we all know they’re useless. There’s no point asking, but how else do you pass the time.
You don’t get to choose who you wait with. Packed in with family who are virtual strangers. People who only want to start fights. And yet these are the people on whom you’re mean to lean. So there are awkward silences, pauses which you wish could be filled with something positive, and then you are given news and there’s a moment of progress. You move, floor 3, radiology. Another waiting room. More hours.
You hear the doctors talk, about anaesthesia and resuscitation, “only if it gets bad,” they say. “She’s out of surgery. When the move her to the ward you’ll be able to see her.” So you wait. The time moves slowly. Pouring over you like molasses, suffocating.
They wheel her past.
You follow. Floor 6, another waiting room. You’re sitting on the floor, leaning against a vending machine. Everyone is tired. More time passes. You watch the screen, begging for something else to focus on. They’re selling half price mattresses. The world in perpetual motion, when your world is at a standstill.
Two by two you get to visit. Five minutes by her side, less, and you rotate out. She needs to sleep.
You validate your parking. $20. They make a killing off people waiting.