In the waiting room 48



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As we get more ancient we spend extended time in waiting rooms, and as I am on Warfarin I spend even more time having regular tests. But hey, the alternative is not much good so will not complain!

This week I had my finger prick test and was sitting in another area waiting to see the doctor. Alongside was a girl with her head in her hands. She was rocking and looked upset, every now and then she sat up and stared at the wall in front.

I was distressed by this, as anyone who cares about others would be. But what could I do? My whole being wanted to put my arms round her and comfort her. But doing that to a stranger, especially in that situation was madness. I could be arrested. Another patient came and went, looked at the girl then ignored her, the nurse went past and said and did nothing. She is a great nurse though, and I know she is usually very compassionate.

The girl leaned forward head almost on her knees. What do you do in this situation? Do you just ignore it, pretend it isn’t happening? Look away, read a book, just play dumb? In the end I gently touched her shoulder, about to offer to fetch her some water. To my horror she jumped in fright, and nearly rose off the chair. I apologised and said I was just offering to get her a drink if she needed it.

She mumbled it was okay and she was sorry she reacted so shocked. I was left feeling foolish, yet I suppose in similar situation I would do the same. As I left the girl was still distressed; she was due to see the doctor after me. It leaves you wondering about what had made her so desperate. I will never know. That isn’t the important thing. It just left me pondering are we becoming too blasé about misery, and unhappiness in others?

I try not to ignore a true cry for help, and will do all I can to give what I can – it may only be my time, if not money. I have shared my food, bedding and other things with friends in need. But I have been given ten times more, by friends who are in a better position and have helped me. Bless them for their kindness. I am a lucky recipient of the wardrobe excesses of a friend who has more than she can ever wear. I gratefully accept and enjoy wearing a new cardigan or dress.

We should all try to make life easier if we know we can do something, which is why it so hard when you can do nothing.

How do you react to these situations? Have you comforted a stranger? What is your reaction when you see someone you don’t know who is upset?

Jacqui Lee

Jacqui Lee is 75 and now retired but the last ten years or so have been some of her busiest. She worked at a hospital, where she took several Certificated courses, she cleaned a school, helped to run two conventions, wrote short stories, started painting, and in fact is never bored even now, "I honestly feel we are lucky to still be upright and breathing, and my motto is, Remember yesterday, dream of tomorrow, but live today. I love fun, clothes, food and friends."

  1. Idefinitely think we should show more compassion and empathy towards our fellow humans .I try to chat or assist in some way .However some looks I get are not great .Hoever if one can reach out and help thevregetions are not that rekevant

  2. I would have done the same thing – a little kindness costs nothing and can do much for the recipient and the giver

  3. I was at a Hospital waiting room when a similar thing happened, only, it was just the two of us. This poor young thing just wept silently into her hands and I felt like I might be intruding, if I did anything ,however I walked over and just very quietly said I was sorry if I was intruding, but could I help in any way. She looked up and said no thanks, and I just said May things be OK soon, and sat down again, feeling that at least she knew someone cared and I did what you did Jacqui, the human thing to do, reaching out to another. May we never get so disconnected that we forget how.

    3 REPLY
    • Well done ladies….. Sometimes just knowing that another person cares enough to interact can help in that type of situation can help. How many ppl have been saved from suicide by kind words from a stranger?

    • This is exactly what I would like to think I would do, Catherine. Whether or not I would be brave enough is another matter, as I would be a bit worried about the reaction I might get. I once tried to help a young mother with a persistently crying baby and got yelled at for being an interfering old bag (I was 30!) by a man who happened to be walking by. I rather crawled back into my shell.

  4. Offering to let people take your turn when distressed would be an advantage and helpful, one doesn’t know what their personal situation is but the sooner help is given the better, kindness costs nothing

    1 REPLY
    • I tried to that; I made a nod towards the lady and said ?am I next? to my doctor, indicating I was ready to give up my turn, he just looked and said yes I was next. So did try that. I can only assume he wanted to see her last.

  5. I don’t think of legal crap of someone sueing me, if someone needs help or a shoulder I offer it. If they don’t want it, then I back off.

    2 REPLY
    • indefense of the nurse and staff, as i have worked in a large 24 hour medical centre and sometimes they are just drug addicts waiting for their free methadone, the nurse may have known this and that is why she ignored the young girl, i had a similar situation and went and asked the young man was he ok …. he was embarrassed …. he wasn’t a drug addict he was a young man on the brink of suicide, so kind words hopefully do help … another time i inquired and was verbally abused by a drug addict waiting for his free methadone …. sometimes its devil if you do and devil if you don’t !!!

      1 REPLY
      • Yes all that went through my mind, and because the nurse and doctor reacted as they did I assumed it was just a mental health issue they would deal with later. But I still wanted her to know someone cared.

  6. My instinct would be to help but my logical self these days, unfortunately, is that maybe the person is coming down from some type of drug. It is so hard to know what to do but I would always assist either an elderly person or a child in distress.

  7. I am one who has to offer help or comfort too .I hope I dont have to change . It will be a cruel world

    1 REPLY
    • No we won’t change…still go on trying to help if we can. have a close neighbour who attempted suicide and am so aware of any changes in his mood, am offering a coffee as often as I can, and we share our garden produce, any contact helps. We won’t let anything stop us… just a fine line sometimes…

  8. I think that its always better to approach and make contact with words …not too close and from the side if possible ….. And not touching unless given permission to do so …….a cup of water or some tissues are often accepted before or instead of personal comforting ….if you are a guy of course this whole process is fraught with extra danger …..

  9. I’m one of those people that try to help others and have so many times but last year I was so let down and so it’s hard to trust those who need a helping hand but it’s my nature to try and help others so I for give very quickly and carry on

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