The fracture clinic is only a small room and the doctors discuss your broken bones, your pain level, your name and date of birth in front of everyone else. And every seat is full.
Why are we so busy? asks the doctor.
You remember that conference you all went on last week? That’s why, the nurse replies as she wraps white plaster round an elbow.
A woman in her fifties asks from across the room for painkillers. The doctor stays in his chair and tries to suggest paracetamol before grudgingly relenting.
We all feel her pain.
Another woman is crying a screaming in pain as a nurse applies her cast. She screams in front of everyone in the small room. The woman in her fifties and the doctor are shouting over her head about pain relief.
A teenage boy sits down to my left. He looks at my wrist in plaster and says, Dislocated shoulder?
He looks at the screaming woman and says, Is that going to be you when they take the plaster off?
I want to say, If it is, will you comfort me? But I say, No and shift away from him in my seat.
A white woman in a kimono has been waiting longer than me. She’s getting impatient. She fell off a ladder – a legitimate injury. I don’t tell her I was drunk at a party.
I am back again the following week.
You were here last week, the woman next to me says.
Yes, I say.
She says, How’s your arm? Has the bone moved?
I tell her it hasn’t. That they said it’s looking good.
She says I’m lucky. Her’s has moved. She needs an operation. She’ll be in plaster for weeks.
I remember her from last time, too. She is the screaming woman. She is calm now, but we both remember.
The doctor says, How’s the cast going?
I say, It’s ok. I say, It’s a bit annoying.
He says, Yes, we don’t make them to be fun.
The woman wearing a kimono is there. She needs to be sent back for more x-rays. She’s going to be late now. She has someone coming to her house for an appointment and she won’t be there when they arrive.
Can you call her? the doctor says.
No, she doesn’t have a phone, says the woman. It’s a tarot reading.
Well then, says the doctor, shouldn’t you have known this would happen?
To me, the doctor says, Ok, see you in six weeks.
And I say, But it’s been two weeks. My voice sounds a little desperate. Is it another six weeks? Or is it four weeks?
He looks at his clipboard, then back at me. Yep, he says, That one.
The screaming woman isn’t there four weeks later, nor is the woman who asked for painkillers, or the teenage boy, but the kimono woman is. She seems relaxed today. She’s relieved. We both are. Relieved to be back here in this small room. Relieved that we’re not coming back.
The doctor says, I remember you.
The doctor says, We don’t need to see you again.
The nurse picks up the small circular saw and says, Have we used this on you before?
She says, This cast is very pretty. Would you like to keep it?
A version of this post was sent by email on the 9th September 2017 as part of Internet Care Package.
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