Can We Talk? A short story from the Hospital
Since I was diagnosed with prostate cancer seventeen years ago, I’ve attended various Cancer Clinics for different kinds of treatment. It has been an ongoing battle to try to destroy and remove rogue cells before they can attack a bone or another organ.
The nursing staff and the doctors are all amazing, and you couldn’t work there without a special gift. They speak and work life into you. But I know there are times when they go home at night knowing that they can’t come up with any more. How do they cope with that, without dumping on their partner, children, or hitting the bottle?
I love all those medical people who have given me their best, such as Ruth. Ruth looks after the tea, coffee and lunch. She’s at the end to her career as a podiatrist, and is just the best.
“Can we talk?” – she’s an expert, and uses the right words, and the right number of words – to you and from you. She doesn’t need to “apologise” for anything. She just goes into cruise control and everyone leaves the clinic better off for the coffee and cake or lunch. It has very little to do with the food, and it’s all about her very special gifting. Her natural gift is encouragement. I hope you don’t need to visit a Cancer Clinic to meet a Ruth.
Today, Ruth wasn’t there. A young 35-ish woman said, “I’m the stand in for Ruth today, but I know no one can be as good as the beautiful Ruth”. I waited my moment and said, “I’m Watto. I like black tea, no milk or sugar, and yes, I’d like lunch sandwiches please”. Then I said, “What’s your name?”, and she said “Ami”.
“Hi, Ami. Thanks for doing one of the most important jobs in this place, because everyone else is looking flat out. My Doctor had some hard things to say to Margaret and I today, and then you turn up with that from another Clinic? “ “No, I’m surprised we haven’t met”, she said.
“Ami, can I give you a word of encouragement? Next person you see, you don’t need to apologise for being a stand-in for Ruth. Just be Ami and do your best, like you do when administering the chemo. You’ll be so welcomed by all. Remember, Ami – just be the best Ami you can be with the cuppa.” She thanked me and said, “Got it!” and popped her head in twice more with a smile, before removing the cannula and sending me home.
CAN WE TALK? Ian Watto Watson