The worry room

By on Jun 1, 2017 in Blog Posts, Cancer | 4 comments

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We are sitting in the waiting room shared by the ICU and operating theatres. They're  waiting for their daughter who's having a tonsillectomy. We are waiting for Josh who's having an angiogram and embolisation in preparation for another procedure in two weeks time. It's a nasty room: the lights aren't quite bright enough, the walls are lined with uncomfortable vinyl chairs, faux plants, empty leaflet stands and tattered posters that remind us to wash our hands. The ever-present stink of worry hangs in the air.

And yet there's a strange camaraderie that this horrible place encourages.

"She was born with a fused skull." The tonsillectomy girl's Dad says. He goes on to tell us about how budget constraints at a UK hospital resulted in additional tests being withheld.  "I felt so powerless. Nothing I said, no matter how I pleaded or ranted made a difference." It's a feeling, he intimates, that he rarely has to cope with in his professional life. He tells us how they decided to come home, to South Africa,  because the promise of a private healthcare plan would give them peace of mind as their daughter grew. His eyes cloud over as he remembers the time.

I've spent too many hours in this room over the past four months.

I've come to realise this kind of sharing isn't unusual. There's something of the confessional about this 'worry room'.  I've listened to the man who wept as he told about his toddler with stage four cancer. I've smiled at the jokes of the pregnant woman who's husband lies in a coma next door. And I've had the surgeon cry and apologise for his tears as he shared the findings of Joshua's initial liver biopsy.

Despite it's dreary decor  this room that allows for the relief of a story shared. More importantly, for me, it allows for the realisation that, whilst the subject of my worry may be unique, worry itself is universal.

I smile as, infected tonsils in hand, the parents follow their child back to the ward. We are not alone.

The worry is over for today - the procedure was a success


  1. Colleen de Bruin

    1st June 2017

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    Heart wrenching! I liked the “confessional room” perspective, and agree that our basic human emotions and desires are universal. Thanks for sharing. This piece is so honest and gives us a glimpse into your world. Wishing you strength and peace.

  2. Maryse

    2nd June 2017

    Post a Reply

    That common feeling of helplessness that unites all, sitting, watching, waiting… the thought that swirls round in a parent’s head a thousand times that says “I wish I could do more” or “why could it not have been me?”. You are all in my thoughts and prayers Penny x

  3. xxx

    8th July 2017

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