Thursday, October 21, 2010


I have not yet fallen out of love with hospitals.  Most people I know don’t like hospitals – they find them impersonal, and oftentimes they operate as a business rather than a center of healing.  I agree with this… to an extent.  Because to me, there’s something exciting about hospitals.  To me, they’re a place of hope, a place people go to get better.  Patients are surrounded by people who love them. 
            Every Thursday I go to clinic with a doctor friend of mine.  She’s an excellent doctor – a neurologist.  Every patient comes in scared or tired or just unhappy, and she does her best to assuage their fears and make them happier.  She tells them what’s wrong and how to fix it, what different types of medicine do.  She tells the truth, explains the procedures.  It’s pretty incredible to get to watch her in action. 
            In Africa, we lived at a hospital, and I think that was when I fell in love with them.  The hospital consisted of three or four long low buildings, and somehow they had planted a garden around them.  In the pediatrics ward, mothers lay with their malarial babies on hospital beds, making sure the flies didn’t land on them.  Someone had planted the little gravel yard at the front of the building with hanging orchids.  Sometimes, when I was hot or tired and the dust and sun of Africa were bothering my eyes, I would go and sit in the perfumed shade outside the pediatrics ward.  
            Maybe I love hospitals because they are this reminder of healing, reminders that people are strong and resilient and that they generally get better.  Maybe Africa spoiled me and now in my head every hospital has hanging orchids somewhere.  And maybe I just like sick people and medicine… hard to tell.  What do you love?

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