Earlier today I returned to the hospital where I spent a week of life earlier this year for yet another test. Being unfamiliar with many medical words in Polish, it was yet another reminder of my failings and a reminder of the frustrated helplessness people fell when under the care of someone else. It is very difficult to put your health in someone elses hands, even more so when there is an obstruction in the shape of a language barrier. I am blessed to some degree as my Doctor speaks some English. However there are times when my Polish and his English isn’t enough to enable us to understand each other.
Today was one of those days. The doctor needed a word in couldn’t find. It happened to be a word which I did not know. After the test he walked me out of the room, sat down and uttered the words no patient ever wants to hear.
‘Take a seat.’ He looked nervously at the floor and back to me.
‘No thanks I’d rather stand’ I replied, alarmed by the fact that my Doctor’s discomfort clearly meant one of two things. Either my Doctor has hemorrhoids or he had some bad news to give me.
‘Really I think you should seat down.’ He looked me in the eye, holding my gaze until I obeyed. It only confirmed my suspicion. It was bad news. Shit I thought, I am going to die.
I am not. Not even close. The news was bad, my not anything which is going to affect my life in the short-term. I complete misread the situation and panicked. My Doctor’s discomfort which I had observed was actually him searching for this the right word.
It set me thinking about everyday diplomacy. How many jobs are there where you can unintentionally strike fear into someones heart like that? There aren’t many which can make people fear for their lives like that.