Healing hospitals?

I spent some time in hospital last week with a case of appendicitis. Whilst I didn’t have to be operated on thankfully, I was virtually anchored there on a IV drip of antibiotics.

I had plenty of time to ponder the resilience of human beings, especially of the elderly with broken hips and legs, facing the immense task of learning to walk again in the twilight of their life. Life is always throwing up challenges and age isn’t a barrier.

Then there were the  nurses,  there when I went to sleep and still present when I awoke, continually cheerful whilst attending to the bodily needs of the ill at 2am , 3 am 4 am…

In this intense environment I saw the precariousness of life, tilting towards death and back again, and how it is the care that we have for each other, even of complete strangers, that makes it all somewhat tolerable and even courageous.

On day 2 I was released from the drip and took a walk outside in the fading light. Camera in hand I was like a child again, hungry for nature’s comfort and delights. It felt so good to reconnect with the natural elements after being in the hothouse of the hospital with curtained beds, grey walls and the constant stream of lights, buzzers, beepers.

It seems that hospitals reduce the human body down to it’s essential functions, the minutiae of vital signs and infections. But what about the wounded animal that is in us? How is that healed? We need the glimpse of green, the quiet of nature’s stillness, the fresh air of a sea breeze to remember who we are.

Sadly in the 21st century, hospitals are not places for recuperation and recovery, or  of healing in the broadest sense of the word. We need more art, more nature, more thought about what revives the human spirit during times of crisis and then create the environment with that at heart.


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