I had the opportunity to spend several days in the hospital visiting my Dad this week. It’s a great place to evaluate yourself, your life, your wants and desires. That’s what writers are supposed to do, evaluate stuff and then compile it so it may be of value for others at another time.
Sitting here typing at 3 in the morning in my Dad’s room, it occurs to me that each of the people on this floor are going through one of the biggest stories of their life. Their world, and mine for the time being, totally revolves around the hour to hour vital sign checks, bits of information from nurses and the brief but always frustratingly uninformative meetings with doctors. At least once an hour one of the patients on the floor tries to get up and leave this world to rejoin the “real” life.
I heard of a book the other day called “The Shift” which covers one overnight shift of an RN. Hospital soap operas have been around as long as there has been Television, (even as a kid I remember ladies sighing for Dr. Kildare.) Unfortunately, the soap opera usually takes over the real drama. I wonder if the author of “The Shift” was successful in covering the day to day small dramas that an average person can relate to. It’s probably a good lesson for a writer to remember that, while most human beings are not going to be involved with a mass murder, nuclear accident or an affair in the supply room, we will all face the very real complication of death at some time. Even a few days of feeling really bad is a drama.
The glimpse we get at the TV news reminds us that the world goes on outside of the hospital room, but here in the silence of the middle of the night, it’s inconsequential. When friends and relatives send messages asking for information, it’s frustrating to relay the same little bits that we know time after time, but if the subject ever changes to something else, I ignore it.
There are small stories that are really big stories within each person. As writers, we have to remember to find them.
Incidentally, Dad was released last week to a “rehab center.” We will never call it a “nursing home” within his earshot.