I think they call it the Green Room. It’s a place in television production where actors or performers prepare themselves for the show that is to come. The room in which I was asked to wait was green. I was one of many acts to present themselves before the staff on that day. There were all kinds of people, all types of characters who could fill the pages of all types of books. There was the drunk, the late-night couple, the mother and son, the old woman in her wheelchair, a younger one sitting on the edge of her nerves, and another who wept silently to herself with only me for an audience. I did the ‘good Samaritan’ thing and told a porter. In such a mundane environment, one that was awaiting the dreadful arrival of a pandemic yet not holding its breath, I felt safe. I took a long look at everyone there, all having been told to wear masks, and recognised nobody from the other side. What I did recognise was the burning pain, searing through my leg, scorching the earth.
Eventually is actually a measurable passage of time within a health-setting. Nothing is rushed. Everything has it place on the list and there is definitely no queue-jumping. People mumble in discontent whilst secretly being assured that all is going to be well. In hospitals, time is a healer, and a leveller. There is no hierarchy and no deference to wealth, unless you have the money to ‘go private’. Soon, everybody was going to have to go private.
I watched the obligatory distraction of the television news. The fat guy wasn’t there, but there was somebody else lip-sinking. A number of statistics were displayed that showed the progress that was being made against the unseen enemy. Two Union Jack flags sat in abeyance at either side of the speaker. We were at war. But still there were no Nazis. And, to tell you the truth, I couldn’t give a fig as the pain in my leg was intensifying by the second. I watched the drunk until he took an overly long glance at me and I decided to cease contact before it became messy. A nurse came along and asked him to socially-distance himself from another waiting patient. There was a brief conversational scuffle before he moved to a safer distance. I watched him through the corner of my eye without him being aware until finally my name was called. I would have jumped to my feet, but I couldn’t.
I was pushed into a room on the wheelchair and the registering nurse asked me to sit on one of those inspection beds next to her.
“You can’t do what?” she asked, annoyed.
“I can’t walk.”
She was short of patience but did not bite.
“What seems to be the problem?”
After a week in hospital and two weeks at home being cared for, my problem was still not recognised.