She sits in the waiting room, grey haired, hard of hearing, small in stature and vulnerable, naked under her open back hospital gown.
She sits with similarly dressed people who in their turn leave the waiting room as their name is called. After two hours of not hearing her name and watching people arrived and leave her anger overrides her vulnerability, and she verbally explodes with "I have been here a lot longer than everyone else".
All goes silent and all eyes turn to her. Once again she feels vulnerable and this is compounded when the now stunned nurse rushes to her side and in a placating voice, as if speaking to a small child the nurse says, "it all depends on what you are having done and if your doctor is running late."
And with this the nurse rushes off once giving the room of waiting patients a knowing head shrug and everyone understands that the woman has a problem. With this her vulnerability builds and embarrassment is added to her list of emotions.
Hospital staff now avoid eye contact with the woman moving through the waiting room quickly with their eyes down. The change in the hospital staff behaviour is noticed and the sense that there is something really wrong with the woman increases. Now the room of waiting patients start ignoring her.
She has had enough! Her invisibility has freed her of vulnerability. She stands up and walks to the nurses station and in a loud, clear confident voice she states My name is Mary my appointment was for 12:30 it is now 3:30 and I have not eaten since supper last night, I am a diabetic, please contact (doctors name).
10 minutes later her name is called "Mary", she smiles for the first time, gets up and shuffles after the nurse. Later we found her eating a muffin at the hospital cafeteria.
How often this week have we stopped seeing people because it meets our own needs?
Be mindful of people around you and pay attention to those you do not see.
We all need to be seen!