My first ambulance ride


Cerno is not the patient – it is a relative. I guess this is a part of life everyone eventually encounters. Fluorescent lights, arctic air conditioning, and muffled hospital announcement. Waiting outside assorted examination rooms clutching X-Rays and other bulky documents. Watching cartoons on the soundless TV mounted over the waiting area. Things have to be signed for (which other people handled). Wheel chairs evaluated and stretchers located. The busy looking reception girls are ALL actually playing games on their PC 😉

I’ve seem plenty of hospitals as a kid. General hospital Colombo specifically. Thankfully not as a patient. At the time it felt like a filthy depressing place. My most vivid recollection is of a huge sand filled concrete ornamental urn in a dingy grubby pink and avocado green lobby. It was bare except for a brown shrivelled remnant of a plant. The hospital visits and watching surgeries were my doctor parent’s idea of inspiring me to join the profession. An idea that clearly failed. Big time.

This hospital is modern. Impressively first world. With that familiar stain (patina feels like the most meaningful word) of third world-ness I’m still trying to find the words to describe. I’m somewhere between worried and calm. The waiting between examinations could be boring if I hadn’t long ago made my peace with long waits. Impatience takes up too much time.

At least the relative concerned is not in pain, conscious and will not give up his mobile (a concession is made for the X-ray). Have to admit it does inject a bit of humour in to the situation.

Also on display – the solidarity of an extended Sri Lankan family network leaping into high gear. There is an embarrassing collection of them accumulating in the waiting area. The patient is perhaps the most embarrassed by all the fuss. The events leading up to the injury are a mantra repeated to each new arrival.

In the ambulance I watch the post rush hour street life flash by through the gap in the frosted glass. The 2 way radio is squawking away. I’m grateful this isn’t anything like someone caught in a bomb blast might feel on the way to the emergency ward. Splattered with the blood, shrapnel and pain. Or what it must have been like for the soldiers receiving artificial limbs. Getting evacuated from the front line, a stretcher on an Antonov to Ratmalana, then an ambulance, a hospital and eventually a different life.

Anyway, the dust is settled and the drama over. Now its the long haul.

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