It had seemed a long way off, but suddenly it was here; my next round of surgery would be in about 24 hours. I was becoming increasingly anxious as the day progressed. Just before 5pm the phone rang; the hospital admissions clerk informed me that they could not guarantee me a bed the next day so I had a choice; go on the surgery stand-by list for the next day, or wait to be scheduled for another date. Not wanting any more delays I opted to be on stand-by.
The next morning I phoned to check the protocols; I must not drink anything from 09:00 and they would call me either to come in to the hospital when they were ready for me, or to stand me down. I downed a couple of glasses of water and started the interminable wait.
By midday I was hungry, thirsty and agitated. Surely they must have some idea whether I would have surgery today? It was scheduled to be just a two-hour operation, but by the time I’d get to the hospital and get booked in it’d be heading toward the end of the working day.
I phoned. No news. I continued to pace about the house.
13:30 I phoned again. “Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten you. I’ll call you as soon as I hear anything.”
13:45 the phone rang. “Please make your way in.” It was all go!
By 15:00 we had arrived and within 30 minutes, having been seen by the Surgeon and Anaesthetist, the Nurse walked me down to the theatre. She’d had a busy day but maintained a cheerful disposition. I was surprised when she said, “It was a delight to speak to you on the phone….” Evidently other patients on the stand-by list had been less than polite. Each time the phone rang her heart sank – doubtless another disgruntled patient primed to vent their frustration.
It’s not always easy, but before unleashing a salvo of choice words it’s worth considering, “Is this person actually trying to harm me?” Perhaps they’re just a messenger, or constrained by forces beyond their control. The way you respond could make their day or break them… and your reputation.