The Hospital Is Not Your Mother

– Hey, Younger Me.

– What’s up, Older Me?

– What’s going on with you? Why are you slaving away at work? Why are you losing sleep over stress?

– There’s too much work. I have fifteen patients to see in a day, but even if I skip lunch and write my notes really fast and speed-walk between wards, I can only see ten.

– Please take a lunch break.

– But if I don’t take a lunch break, maybe I can leave work on time.

– Take a bloody lunch break.

– Well, I’m having lunch with my supervisor while we do an assessment.

– Didn’t you do an assessment last week?

– There are so many to get through. We have to do one almost every week. I prepped til 11pm last night and then I couldn’t fall asleep.

– Oh dear.

– I need to make a good impression with my supervisor, so he’ll give me a good mark for the rotation, and a good reference for my next job.

– I know.

– I have to go. They’re paging me about an aggressive patient in ED.

– But you were just going to pee.

– I have a large bladder.

– Hey, Younger Me. Just wait up one sec.

– Yeah?

– Stop killing yourself for the hospital.

– What?

– Pieces of yourself. Your time, strength, purpose and passion. You’re giving it to the hospital. What for? They’re not going to give you any love. The hospital is not your mother. To them, you’re a mere cog.

– I’m doing it for my patients.

– Not anymore. Not when you’re like this. Go home, Younger Me. Step out of the whirlwind, just for a space, and you’ll see.

– I can’t. They’re paging me in ED. I’ll see you later.

Two Minute Research

He walks past me, doubles back, and approaches with an earnest smile. Black backpack. Black skinny jeans. Black sneakers.

‘Hi! Do you have two minutes? I’m doing some research and I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions.’

We are kin unmet: brittle black hair,  almond-shaped eyes, olive skin that holds scars easily. There is an immediate sense of similarity.

‘What sort of research?’ I ask, tucking my handbag in to my side.

‘I’m doing a theology course.’

It’s not an answer, but more than an answer. He talks about his studies, and I’m listening, but he’s not telling me much. I smile and listen harder.

‘Mind if I pull up a seat? I’ve been walking around all day.’

We sit, knees pointing together, in the foyer of the library. He’s talking about his faith now. I wait for the research to begin. At my elbow is another Chinese girl, playing on her phone. Several feet away, a tall white man huddles over his laptop.

‘I was wondering, where are you at, in your beliefs? Do you believe in God?’

I stare into his crinkled eyes. I’m at the end of my journey; he’s in the middle of his. The question is a bridge through time. I could tell him so much, but it’s impossible in this space. I give him a single word answer.