My head hurts.
No machines are beeping. No sirens blaring. No pretty ladies in blue scrubs and soft loafers running up and down.
Nobody with a stethoscope dangling on their neck strolls into the waiting area. Certainly nobody holding a clipboard and a pen.
Heck, not even a stretcher wheeling someone to the wards, or the morgue, or wherever else!!!
Just a lonely wheelchair resting against the wall- much like me. And a very mood woman in scrubs – probably a dentist.She looks constipated.
It is very unromantic. And I realize the movie “18 Hours” must have lied to me…
Am feeling numb, especially in the legs. I have been waiting for almost an hour. My head is very light and I start to feel the earth spinning. The lady seated next to me is heavy, with child. Probably in the last month of her second trimester. Her boyfriend or husband is there with her. I know it has to be either one because their foreheads are bumping ever so slightly, and they are holding hands and talking in hushed tones as they stare into each other’s eyes, and probably souls. They seem to enjoy each other’s company. They make me feel even worse. Am alone. Even my phone chose to go off about half an hour ago. I roll my eyes though am a little jealous of them.
It’s a very cold day. My hands are in the tummy pocket of my blue n white hoodie. Am hungry and a little bit sad. I feel like crying but that might send the wrong message. Am yet to call anyone. Because well, my phone is out – and also I don’t want anyone to look at me with pity. But that is exactly what the old lady opposite me is doing. She must be judging me – probably thinking I have something venereal and exotic. I do not.
The reception, where am seated, is quite dull. I try to look around but it’s really depressing. A bunch of stale magazines lie on the low glass table in the centre of the large room. I think of picking one but then change my mind. So I sit there silently. I feel exactly like I did on that first day at St. Peter’s School, as I waited to see the head-teacher. Stomach churning, head light, and fighting the urge to run away.
It smells of bleach and sorrow and pain. The room feels dull though the walls are so white they hurt my eyes. The tiles on the floor are so clean you could lick sugar from them. I think I smell iodine or Lidocaine, but I realize it possibly is some of the dried up blood in my nostrils. I had been bleeding all night. I woke up was weak and tired and hungry. I did not even find time to eat. Just walked into the shower then caught a ride to this hospital – in a neighborhood where the dogs probably eat three meals a day.
My insurance is not up to date. I stopped paying NHIF a few years back. I will have to pay out of my pocket. It would have been a good idea to go to a government hospital but the unending wait on the queue would probably have killed me. Well, not literally. So I opted for this facility. It’s nice, and seems very pricey. Am just here for consultation; I cannot afford the actual treatment. Even that consultation alone may still set me back in a major way. But what is a boy to do if not splurge from time to time.
The receptionist calls out my name.
I don’t hear it the first time because I have drifted away.
She calls again. And I rise up with a start. Too quick, because that dizziness comes back. And so I have to stand still for a moment so that I can regain my stability. And find my true north.
“Please walk to Room 9,” she says so sweetly and reassuringly.
I shuffle past a row of seats and along the straight and narrow corridor on my way to the office. Odd numbers are on my left, even numbers on the right.
They are painted in a black color against a shiny grey background which makes them look very solemn. Can’t whoever paints the hospital office doors pick a more cheerful color?
Outside the fifth door on the left, there is a welcome mat with a smiley face on it.
“How inappropriate?” I think to myself as I knock gently on the door.
A female voice ushers me in.
It’s a very neat office. On the desk is a laptop, a writing pad and two Ibuprofen pens. Nothing else. It does not smell of medicine or sorrow or injections. It smells of freshly squeezed lemons. And I have half a mind to ask for a glass of lemonade.
“Have a seat,” the lady doctor says, almost pleading. She doesn’t look up.
I comply and sit there on the examination table like a well-mannered three year old.
She continues writing furiously into a page of the writing pad for another minute before walking up to me. She is a motherly figure. Probably mid-forties. Her hair is pulled back to the top of her head and held by a bright green ribbon. She has on the cleanest dustcoat I have ever seen. And she is tall too. I know because her eye line is slightly below mine though am seated on that high examination table. Her smile is not too plastic.
In my mind all I can imagine is what the bill will be…