When you go to the hospital every day at the same time, you start noticing a lot. You know where the parking spots are typically open, who the valet guy is , who is the one over seeing hospital housekeeping, the schedule of the coffee runs.The crowd outside the OR with big books or e-readers prepared to wait for someone seem the same although its a different group every day. The rhythm of waiting rooms, the sounds of the hallways and the footsteps of the staff.
The radiation oncology waiting room is a collection of chairs next to a long hallway. The crowd remains the same every day albeit some minor variation…….the very anxious hispanic lady with her baseball cap ,always accompanied by a family member, the older guy with lung cancer and his occasionally present wife, the ukranian lady who wears a cape, the elderly guy in the wheel chair who flirts with the receptionists when he is not dozing off and the goth lady who talks mostly to the patients that wait for their MRI in the same area. We see each other every day and although there is no overt acknowledgment, we all know that we have the same enemy.
Today, there was a new guy, the patients weren’t moving in predictable fashion and it seemed that they were running behind. The new guy was approached by the technician who reported that he is getting late for his chemotherapy, the technician asked, “how long does that take you”, the new guy replied” Its my first one”there was a wave of palpable empathy in all sitting there, in that moment we all felt one, connected with this bond of experience that was common to all of us. Even the aloof ukranian lady sighed.
Daily appointments are draining , they are a daily reminder that you are sick and need help. Its taxing to the psyche, having to go in every day. Feeling good during treatment is deceptive because you feel well yet you are a patient. Dealing with cancer means rearranging a lot in your life including how you think about life. Feeling well is a blessing that needs to be appreciated daily, the day you don’t hurt, the day you arent exceptionally tired and feel clear in your head is a good day and should be appreciated as such. Gratitude needs to be the routine with every passing day. There is hope and sometimes it comes out of a machine in form of rays on a daily basis.