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« Two worlds collide on the 58 tram | Main | Worship in a foreign tongue »
Saturday
May132017

Passing through the health precinct

On my tram ride between home and work, I pass through what must surely be the most heavily populated health precinct in the southern hemisphere. There they all are – hospitals old and new. First the super-flash Royal Children’s, opened by her Maj, no less, all colourful and artfully angled shutters, and, if you venture inside, acquariums and meercats.

The new Women’s, then my alma mater the Royal Melbourne, somewhat tarted up but inside still reassuringly and nostalgically recognisable. And just opposite that, the mothership as my son calls it, the new Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, like a mighty ocean liner standing proud and tall against the waves of traffic beating up from Haymarket roundabout; a whole other species from the old-style heath institutions with their orange bricks and industrial chimney. It is all swirls and curves and roof gardens and inside it has an atrium where buskers play music that trails up the light well to all the floors where people are waiting patiently – it is a public hospital after all – for their oncologist, their X-ray, blood test, pills, whatever. You sit in one of the funky cafes in the VCCC and look around and realise that everyone sipping their coffee has intimate dealings with cancer – either as a patient, a loved one, or a worker in the field. It’s humbling.

I’ve been involved in most of these hospitals in one way or another. I trained at the old RMH in the 80s, garbed in old-school starched cap and apron. In the 2000s we were in and out of the Children’s for six years with our youngest. And I am about to become very familiar with the VCCC as my husband enters his inpatient phase at that impressive institution.

My familiarity with hospitals has perhaps made me more aware than most of what goes on inside their walls. As my tram trundles past, I can feel the welter of emotions emanating from them – fear and grief and despair, sure, but also camaraderie and triumph sometimes, joy (all those babies!) relief, gratitude, love. All those life and death (literally) battles going on just a few meters and one thin wall away. How can commuters, noses in their mobiles, not feel the great wash of human endeavour and endurance they are passing?

Maybe they do. Maybe everyone in my tram is thinking similar thoughts to mine. As I pass each day, I salute everyone within those walls, am grateful for good health care and am reminded of the fragility of life.

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Reader Comments (9)

Love and prayers for Al, you and your family Clare.

May 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJan Tonkin

Wonderful piece Clare. I will keep a look out for Al this week. Hope he is OK at present.

May 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterFinlay

Another great piece Clare. Owen and I are both connoisseurs of the good ship VCCC, also still known as Peter Mac, at the request of the staff I believe. It's a world class institution, and all I can say is that I am thankful for itt. Good luck to you and Al . Best wishes

May 13, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterjanie bell

Our love thoughts and prayers for you Al and family Clare. SHALOM
Arthur and Ruth

May 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterArthur Poole

My thoughts are with you both as you go on this journey. Love and prayers Jann

May 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJann Macrae

Thanks for keeping those of us interested, up to date, Clare. All the best wishes for strength, faith and companionship in this next stage of your life journey together. Beautiful sentiments in this blog post. Thank you.

May 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJeanette Severs

Oh Dear Clare, You and Al are much in my thoughts and prayers as you enter this chapter. May you be suffused in love and TLC. May the air be thick with angels wings around you. May you feel the prayers of the oh-so-many of us who love you both.
J.

May 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJana Childers

As usual Clare your writjng raises our awareness of what it means to be a human being sharing the trials and tribulations of our common life. You raise our awareness of the need for thankfulness so that we do not journey unmindful of our common humanity. Each of us is one small step away from catastrophe and a radical change in our fortunes. Keep prodding us in your compassionate way.

May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRod

You prompted me to contact another friend about to undergo invasive medical interventions also. Al and you will be in my prayers. And I'm sure you're right that there must be a vast cloud of emotional charge emanating from that Parkville corner. I'm so grateful for the excellent coffee at Dr Dax cafe -- a chance to cross the road in fresh air (albeit Royal Parade traffic fumes), see some sky, and re-centre before heading back into the hospital precinct. Good luck with your journey.

May 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterStefanie Pearce

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