Sunday, 1 April 2007

No news is good news

I guess there's no good way to get bad news. But there's a curious ritualistic quality to it that gets repeated over and over again, irrespective of the hospital.

1. The consultant comes in with serious face asking whether we can "go somewhere quiet". These have become the most frightening words I can hear.
2. We go with the consultant and a nurse feeling sick and very small, like children on the first day at a new school.
3. We go to a small room, bare except for a few chairs, a few cheap prints on the wall and an ominous box of tissues.
4. We sit on the chairs furthest from the door. Never sure whether this is so they can exit gracefully or to stop us running, screaming from the room.
5. The consultants always start the same way "I'm sorry to have to give you this news but...". Then you get the news. They pause, then give you the news again in a different way in case you blocked it out the first time.
6. They offer tissues and ask if you have any questions. You don't really have any since you are reeling but ask a few anyway, since they've asked. You won't remember the answers later.
7. They ask if "you'd like a few moments alone" and withdraw.
8. The next half an hour passes in a blur. In our case, the wife talks non-stop inbetween the tears. I struggle to make sense of what she's saying but try to mumble a few things appropriately.
9. Then I go back to the boy and the wife goes to ring her family.
10. Finally, the nurses leave us all alone for a few hours. If you don't refer to the news none of the nurses will.

No comments: