Mishearing Words

I spent a significant part of the other day sat in hospital waiting rooms. Not for me, but for a member of my family – they’re recovering very nicely, thank you – so there wasn’t a lot to do in between the moments of activity (scans, checks, and more checks) except people watch and listen in to conversations that had absolutely nothing to do with me.

I was waiting outside the loo (not for fun; someone was already using it) in a check-up area, and someone was being questioned about various things behind a curtain – which didn’t do much for his privacy as I could hear every word until I started day-dreaming and drifted off into a world of my own. But I did catch the following brief exchange;

Nurse: “Do you have any other medical conditions?”

Patient: “I was diagnosed a few months ago with homosexuals.”

Nurse: “…” Rustle of papers. “Haemophilia?”

Patient: “Oh, I always get those two mixed up.”

I exchanged a wary look with the chap behind me in the queue, but – in the time-honoured tradition of toilet queues everywhere – didn’t actually say anything. Any comment at that point, our look seemed to say, would be frivilous and just plain unnecessary.

I also spent a wonderful ten minutes towards the end of our long wait having a deeply philosophical conversation with one of the health-care assistants about the nature of child-rearing and the changing perspective of it in each generation. Essentially, what we discovered was that we were entirely right and everyone else should be learning from us – imagine our great pleasure when we realised this! There might be a couple of flaws in this plan, it was suggested to me afterwards, but I’m struggling to see what they are.

Hospitals are wonderful places – cathedrals of medicine and surgery to whom we entrust our loved ones in order to get well again – and are also buildings that very few people would choose to go do when they are well. I certainly wouldn’t; but for the snippets of humanity and conversation, I love them.

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