"A night in the Gilbert Bain Hospital, Shetland"
About: Gilbert Bain Hospital / Accident & emergency Gilbert Bain Hospital Accident & emergency Lerwick ZE1 0TB Gilbert Bain Hospital / Trauma & orthopaedics Gilbert Bain Hospital Trauma & orthopaedics ZE1 0TB
Posted by davidt (as ),
Late one Sunday afternoon, I slipped on wet wood, fell and hurt my arm. I quickly realized that my sore arm wasn’t going to heal itself and so decided, a little reluctantly, that I had to go to A&E. This was a small disaster for me: my carefully made plans for the rest of the day would have to be put on hold, a quiet and peaceful Sunday evening would be lost. And, as my arm became sorer, so my fear that things would be upset for a little longer than just a Sunday evening grew.
I tried to remind myself that my worries were really pretty trivial: little plans disrupted, a lost evening, the possibility of having to cope with a broken arm for a few weeks. Not really big things, just small things which would cause a few changes to life for a little while. But I couldn’t fool myself; I was upset and couldn’t pretend otherwise.
So I brought with me to A&E not just a sore arm, but fear and loss and upset too. I wanted people to fix my arm, but I wanted something else too. I wanted someone with whom to share my sense of hurt, loss and fear. On a busy Sunday evening in an overstretched A&E department, I found what I longed for. Everyone whom I saw treated me with kindness, tenderness and compassion. People spent time with me, they talked to me, they showed interest in me, they were gentle with me. They showed me that I mattered, that they cared about me, that they would care for me. I could have asked for nothing more.
My arm was, as I knew from the beginning, broken. It wasn’t an easy break and I wasn’t going home that night. My hopes were disappointed, my fears confirmed. And yet things didn’t seem as bad as they might. I felt safe and protected, I felt nurtured, and I felt glad not to be alone. The same gentleness, tenderness and compassion with which I had been treated by everyone in A&E was also shown to me through the night and the following day in Ward 1. Cleaners, healthcare assistants, nurses, doctors, pharmacists, occupational health therapists, consultants: all in their own special ways cared for me in ways which helped me to feel better again. All gave me something which went way beyond their official task. They gave me kindness.
People also let me see kindness to others. The world can sometimes seem a pretty cruel and uncaring place, and such cruelty and carelessness makes glimpses of kindness all the more valuable. On a Sunday evening as I lay in bed feeling sorry for myself, I watched a nurse helping an old man to eat some yogurt. It was something very simple and very humble, but it was also something valuable beyond measure. It was a moment of care and compassion, a moment of love. Sorrow, in that moment, became happiness.