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Hospital of Horrors

29 May 2012, 07:08

Have you been to a hospital lately? Were you “Just Visiting” – as in Monopoly – or were you booked in as a fully fledged inmate of the House of Horrors?

Kurtz, a character from Heart of Darkness, written by Joseph Conrad, whispered with his dying breath: “The Horror! The Horror!” I feel the same after spending a day in hospital. Not to worry – it was nothing serious – I’m still alive.

The first thing I noticed when I entered the “Place where Many People Come to Die” (PMPCD) was the speed at which the staff moved. Snails and turtles are supersonic creatures compared to the perambulatory efforts of the staff.

I always thought that the passages were designed to be wide enough to accommodate easy access for stretchers and medical equipment. I was wrong. Apparently the reason that these passageways are so wide, is to allow the hospital employees (cleaners, nurses, doctors, and others with nondescript jobs) to pass one another in the corridors. These people are fat – as in OBESE. BIG. Like buses. Moving in slow motion. Without a destination.

We have all seen these same buses come to life during the strikes – singing, dancing, and toi-toiing – like sport cars on high-octane fuel. Miracles do happen, I tell you!

And loud!!! These buses have had the baffles removed from their exhaust systems. Talking, shouting, and laughing; as if some surgeon, in the operating theatre, has just completed the world’s first successful removal of the spear from a patient.

I wonder how many seriously ill patients have died while someone from miles down the passage was shouting: “Eish! Wena, it is teatime, let’s go!” Or, “Hakuna matata, sisi ni kwenda nyumbani!”

It is obvious that the employees are incompetent, unskilled, and inconsiderate. And fat. And lazy.

Then I noticed the lack of maintenance. Lights not working, chairs and furniture broken and torn, ceilings have come loose, tiles missing or broken, filthy windows, etc, etc.

The toilets are of the modern South African type – paperless. And soapless. I wondered if this was because the hospital management knew that patients didn’t eat the hospital food – and therefore had no need for bowel movement – or whether the hospital staff, visitors, and patients did their affirmative shopping at the hospital toilets. Anyway, a visit to the “shortdrop” in hospital will test your “own” initiative.

All the candidate patients had to sit in the passage – playing musical chairs on various models of clapped-out seating. A nurse would come sauntering up – and in a strange dialect, call out the next victim’s name. The poor lamb, on hearing his name, would then get up to be slaughtered, and everyone else would move up one seat.

Some of the passage sitters were obviously fairly buggered up. Even with my limited medical knowledge I could see this. The frail; the old; some suffering from previous visits to the PMPCD (judging from their bandaged wounds); and some nervous newcomers. They all just sat there – uncomplaining – for hours.

“Dak lek!” the bus shouted. I just sat there. Later she came back and called out: “Dak lek,” again. Only then did I realise that she wasn’t complaining about the roof that was leaking; she was calling my surname: “de Clerk.” Silly me.

So, after three hours, I finally got to see the doctor. Pleasant enough person; but on contract, and couldn’t do anything for me right now. He told me to make another appointment and to come back in three months’ time – when he would be gone from the hospital. Duh?

Well, I can tell you this: I shall not be going back. The doctor unintentionally gave me a clue when he said “three months.” If he thought that I would still be alive in three months time, there is nothing wrong with me!


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