Sunday, February 21, 2010

T.M.I. At The Hospital

Sitting in the hospital, while waiting for a family member, can be an interesting ride. As you walk through the halls and make eye contact with people, you're not certain if you should give them a smile, or turn away.

Are they there celebrating the arrival of a new family member?

Are those tears you hear down the hall from relief, or from grief?

Are they nervously awaiting the results of a friends cancer surgery?

Perhaps it's just a routine knee surgery, or their cousin broke his leg jumping on a pogo stick. Either way, there tends to be more of a levity about them.

You never can tell what or why, but you don't necessarily want to pry. But over the course of a week you do start to see the same people. In the hallways, at the cafeteria, on the elevator, somehow without saying a word, you form a relationship with some of these people. The glances, the smiles, the look of I'm sorry, all represent the true depth of communication without words.

As my sister and I sat in the family waiting room, awaiting' Mom's 6 hour surgery, we sat among many different individuals. The conversations ranged from joking with each other (Grandy always gives the crowd something to giggle about when she trips over things...nothing like physical comedy to break the tension), to private internal updates on how they were holding up. If my sister and I had something personal to discuss, we had our eye communication, our whispers, and we even used our own quazi-sign-language, in an effort to be respectful of the others in the room.

In every crowd, there is someone who fails to recognize the social boundaries that should be observed. They fail to recognize that maybe people in the room want silence, maybe they don't want to be burdened with someone else's emotional drama, especially if they are dealing with enough on their own. Just because someone is sitting by themselves, does not mean that person is LONELY, it might just mean that they may want to...go figure...sit by themselves.

Enter "tweedle-dee". She sat in the room as we entered. You could tell she was coping with her nervous energy in her own way. She looked like she was spooled, anxious, and lost.

I had to leave my sister for a short time, and in my absence I received the following texts...

**Please hurry...the lady is sharing TOO MUCH INFORMATION.

**Hello? I don't need to hear about her abortion and uterine scraping!! How much longer?

**OMG!! Now her child molestation story is coming up!! HURRY UP AND COME BACK!!

As much as I laughed at my sister for her text messages, and the discomfort she faced at this woman sharing so much information, I was surprised to learn that she wasn't sharing this information with just my twin. She was sharing it all with the entire room.

It made me feel a bit sad for the woman. I was not sad for her because these things happened to her, but rather the fact that she was feeling so vulnerable and exposed at that time that she felt she had to share all this very personal information in a room full of strangers. Sometimes stress and fear makes people act and react in ways that cannot be explained. Grief does strange things to people.

I only heard of the stories after the fact. When I returned to the room, she had already gone. I know that several people in this room were also uncomfortable with the open discussion. Nobody really understood who she was there to see.

I only hope it turned out alright for her, and whomever she was there for. Someone who lacks social boundaries to that extent already struggles with what to say in a crowd, and wants to fit in. Hopefully she finds a "fit", but maybe she finds it by saying less.


Mike Golch said...

Been there a time or two my self.

Jen said...

I am that woman. I don't discuss things that personal but I do talk to strangers. Mostly out of nervous energy and because usually there is no one else to talk to. I do hope everything turned out okay for her. I have also been on the receiving end of that conversation many times. I just nod my head and wish one of my children were around to puke or something.

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Joyce-Anne said...

Sometimes even the best of us have diarrhea of the mouth.