The Dungeons of Hell

 

slave-dungeon-in-elmina

 

I have been to a place that I have never been before.

I had to go in to the Oncology ward to have more scans and tests done, and because of financial reasons, I was taken to the Addington Hospital in Durban.
Understand this, I do not equate this hospital with the dungeons of hell.  In fact to the poorest of the poor, and to the sickest of the sick in our society, its is a beacon of last hope.    A place where care and treatment is given, free of charge, to those in dire need.  It is for them a beacon of shining hope and help.

Derelict, depleted old, and the long dark damp red-brick corridors brought to me what the dungeons of hell could be like.   The patients, moving in dim light and shadows, grave-faced, heavy burned, some uncomfortable and in silent pain, where there was no joy at all, patiently and stoically stood their turn for attention and treatment.

But there was too a great sense of efficiency of the systems at work.  Good work was being done in an organised and proficient manner, and getting the masses lined up for their treatment and care.   The Staff were patient, and kind.   Very kind, and understanding.   One  nurse in the Oncology ward, softly sang “put your care upon Jesus”
as she took blood samples.    I had a lovely imaginary picture of a little song-bird singing among the trepidation of the treatments that were to follow.   It gave comfort and brought hope, and smile to my face.
The ministry of soft song in suffering is powerful.

I went through the motions of the day, waiting many hours till my turn came   I sat in a waiting room that was filled with light.  It had a “sea-view”, but it was a rainy day and the day and the mood was sombre and a misty grey.   As I waited I saw the passing parade of the busy street in front of the hospital.   Life was carrying on as usual – traffic cops on duty, deliveries being made, visitors looking for sea-side parking.
I saw a new and understanding doctor, who had a heart for her patients, went through the motions, did the tests and x-rays.   Then finally referred to another hospital for follow up scans and tests.   A thorough investigation of my present condition, for which I am grateful.    And all the way through my trusty husband was there to help me get through the physical obstacles, with patience and endurance.

Once done, I was helped out to the car, where a car guard offered to help where he could, in the hope of a reward.    He was an elderly white-haired Indian man in a turquoise track suit, with hardship written on his face.   He was working in the rain for a pittance for his own survival – oh the hardships of poverty !

It is an experience that I do not cherish, but do so appreciate.   For in a moment in time,  it brought me closer to those who suffer in their poverty, and in the sicknesses and ailments.
It is in  poverty, sickness, disease and death that we may perceive the horrors of hell, where there is no joy, no hope and everlasting misery – all these linger in the dungeons of hell.

Song bird

Isaiah 61:1
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me,
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those
who are bound.

 

 

 

 

Waiting Rooms

 

I had to get up earlier than usual so that I could travel the distance and arrive early for my appointment at the oncologist’s waiting rooms.
The invader had returned.  And so I had to go through the process of assessment, markings, being escorted to the other building where registration,  x-rays and scans were done for more markings and measurements.    All done professionally and regimentally with precision and courtesy.  There were other patients waiting their turn, and so I had to wait my turn too.   But the waiting for me was not an inconvenience.   I love to sit and observe the passing parade, whether it be in traffic, or in the waiting rooms of life.

I  remember being in this place before, when I had to come in for the original scanning process at the beginning of my cancer challenge.   Strangely the whole building, the registration, the waiting-foyer all seemed much smaller than I remembered.

That very long corridor which I sat in waiting for the radiographer to call my name, was not so long now.
Long corridor

It still had the beautiful seascape paintings on the wall, but somehow it was not so daunting.    I wondered why.
Is it that memory shrinks the environment.  Or is it that when one is fearful of the unknown that everything seems bigger and a little overwhelming?
It is like when you return to your childhood home, or school, that everything now seems much smaller.   An interesting phenomena.

There were three others waiting for their treatment, and so I had a chunk of time to pass.
I read a magazine. And then scrutinised the paintings, thinking how I could perhaps re create them when I started my drawing again.    And then I thought to use the time to write.  I had brought my notebook with me.    All I saw was the blank wall, literally and figuratively, nothing creative would come to mind.

Gloom CloudBut what I did see was the cloud of doom hovering over the other patients’ heads.   There was a sense of gloom, and a sense of duty in the corridor as the clinic sisters hurried along with their work.   But even they seemed to have the gloom cloud over them.

Eventually all the necessary scanning preparation work was done, and I had to return to the oncologist’s rooms again.
Now more waiting.   But here was a large TV screen, and South Africa was playing India in the Cricket World Cup.   I watched for a while, but lost interest, so decided to inconspicuously observe  the other cancer patients instead.   And though the waiting room was light and colourful with flowers in vases and the TV screen there was an air of travail in the room too.   It was as if the people’s problems were very present in the room with them.  There was a certain amount of gloom in the room.     And understandably so, cancer is a serious problem, an  almost insurmountable problem, with its own sense of burden and invisible gloom. In some there was a resignation to the suffering of the disease.   In others there seem to be a bearable tolerance of the inevitable.   We were all wrestling in our own way with the fate that had befallen us.
There was a certain gloom, but there was hope too.  Treatment of whatever kind meant there was help, and the people in the medical and healing professions, who have great expertise, also  have important caring attitudes that carry the cancer patients through in times of illness and desperation.  Kindness is a good companion in the healing process.

I came away with further appointments in hand, for ongoing treatment.   But somewhere  in the waiting rooms, I had resolved not to pick up on the gloom, but to rather look on the soaring side of hope,  and choose joy when gloom wants to press in to order the mood of the moment.

soaring eagle

But those who wait on the Lord,
Shall renew their strength,
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 42:31