Today I set out to get an appointment for the Plastic Surgery Clinic at San Fernando General Hospital in South Trinidad. Since I had missed my last appointment more than six months ago, I had to present a referral letter from a private doctor to receive a new appointment. It also meant I had to wait for the hospital’s doctor to review the letter before a new date could be set.
I was prepared to wait. I had grown accustomed to waiting for medical care, whether public or private, but there were many others who seemed to think that the waiting process was unique to public care. There was a lot of grumbling, a lot of sighing and obviously a lot of pain in some cases.
Amazingly there are many persons who will pay exorbitant fees to see a doctor privately, wait indefinitely and never complain. Privately, spending their own money, they will not say a word. But in the public system, where our health care is free, they border on verbally abusive.
Further there are folks who join long lines to attend events of a much less serious nature, such as a fete. No complaints then, as they willingly part with hard-earned cash for wild abandonment. But to wait for public health care is too much to ask of these hard working people.
I was acutely reminded of the sharp edge of racism when one lady was complaining about her wait time and a passer-by suggested that the reason for her wait was “because yuh (you) black”. She quickly latched on to the idea, ignorant of the fact that people of all races were standing or sitting waiting on their turn.
Sadly this is a reality in our beautiful twin island. I shudder to think of the snowball effect yet to come as the general election draws nearer. Already there is mudslinging. Someone has been fired on the basis of alleged racist remarks on Facebook! Then our esteemed leader of the opposition spewed some egregious words against the leader of Government, the Prime Minister. All of this is going to serve one purpose only.
Segregation and racial intolerance are natural side products of the churning of vengeance, hatred and the desire for power by any party. The younger generation has shown a tendency to move away from gender and racial bias but if the elders persist on bringing it to the front burner then they may well learn from that type of modelled behaviour.
Speaking of model, as I stood waiting along the corridors of the clinic, I saw three young employees and cast a cursory glance to see if I had taught any of them. I looked away because they did not look familiar… but I did notice that they all looked like models. Imagine my surprise when they called me out: they had all been my students and were currently employed in the On-The-Job training programme. Two of them were going on to medical school in September and the third was going to begin a degree to become a Pharmacist.
From doctors to druggists to drug addicts; I had an encounter with a former neighbor which left me with a bitter feeling. She is in a relationship with someone who becomes violent when he drinks alcohol. She spoke about it nonchalantly and even mentioned that her two year old son would ask if “dada did that” whenever she had a bruise.
Some of us have external bruises. Some of us have internal bruises and there are still others who have them both. Our bruises are reminders of what was past, however hurtful. We need them to help us to move from one phase in life to another, hopefully a higher plane and not a lower one. The pain associated with waiting in a queue cannot be compared to the pain of physical or emotional abuse. The latter type of pain could be chronic, enduring over a long period of time or it may be acute.
Abuse produces pain and is a result of pain. There is so much hurt and pain in this world and yet violence is highly promoted in movies and television shows. Why would one want to experience more of such an undesirable feeling?
Instead we need to find more ways to de-stress. We need to embrace each other in the warmth of brotherly love or sisterly love. I was fortunate to have a wonderful sisterly session with one of my dear friends today. The camaraderie, the laughter and complete relaxation was so needed.
Fellowship with family and friends is a wonderfully therapeutic device. Reaching out to new persons is also quite refreshing but of course this must be done with caution. Spend some time eating together, talking or playing a game. It will rejuvenate a flagging spirit and create opportunity for bonding. Let us not wait until it is too late to want to spend time with someone.
How do you feel about waiting? How do you feel about waiting for public health care? Have you ever had to wait for private medical care? Your answers to these questions are important so please share them with me by leaving a comment. Au revoir.