The North


Issue Nº 13

Printed Newspaper Journal – Autumn 2017

“Life is either a great adventure or nothing”



“The tumour that appeared in your uterus. It has now spread to your lungs. It is a very rare event. You are very unlucky. We are going to have to operate. This is very complicated.”  The doctor spoke in short sentences to ensure the Filipino woman understood his serious message. She wasn’t lying in the bed provided, but sitting upright in the visitor’s chair, responding, “But I’m in no pain, I feel nothing.”

We had just arrived in the hospital a few hours earlier, and after waiting in the comfortable lounge eating salted popcorn, we had been shown to my partner’s temporary bed. As we pulled out books and a charged laptop to prepare for a bed bound few days, a team of doctors pulled the curtains across our neighbour’s bed and began telling her the confronting news. Moments earlier I had made eye contact with the woman who appeared in her 40s, we exchanged an awkward smile and then I looked around the room at the other occupied beds. An elderly lady sat staring at the roof with drips and wires all over the place, whilst a Chinese woman not much older than 50 had a conversation with a nurse via a translating app on her phone. I would later find out that she was out here on holiday with family and was struck down with a severely inflamed gallbladder. The woman had no travel insurance, and the bills were coming in at around $1000 a day while she waited for surgery. 

There’s no reality check like spending some time in hospital. The doctors left the Filipino lady with reassurances they would do everything they could to help her, while she just sat there in the visitor’s chair, knees to chest like a child. I couldn’t read the emotions on her face, unsure if she even understood how serious her diagnosis was. Later, she would play terrible music loudly through her phone speakers much to the dismay of a bed bound room. 

So as I sat there taking in the beds around us, I thought about being in that position. Bed bound, all of a sudden told you could be here for a while. The daily interaction with nurses, the matter-of-fact doctors and the in-flight style food. I guess when it gets to that point you better have some pretty good bloody stories to tell, because really that’s all you are left with. It’s not a new thought - you could even say it’s pretty cliché - but the truth is that with the snap of a finger, everything can change. Maybe all you have left is a good yarn to tell the nurse, or if the brain also decides to give way, at least you might have some photos and even a few notes you’ve jotted down over the years. I guess that was always the goal with this journal, to serve as some good memories, some good yarns told by people from all corners. I implore you to go out and fill up your own storybook as one day, it’ll come in handy.