She was lucky to get an appointment within the same week. She had been given a seven-day leave on compassionate grounds which will lapse the following day and she wanted to cut off all communication with the world and mourn her independence. She had finally found Hucknall Road and was irritated when she couldn’t remember which ward she was supposed to be in and had circled around looking for Service Road Two. Then she looked at the appointment letter and stamped on her feet on the accelerator and the brake concurrently.
Why name a road North Road when it isn’t even facing north? She heaved a sigh of relief when she found the outpatient’s parking lot then cussed when she couldn’t find the ticket machine. She cussed again after seeing the time, she was already five minutes late for her appointment and the reception desk was probably empty because no one had picked up her call. For once she wished she could follow her instinct. Just as she gave up and turned around she saw the black stump with silver and blue sticker and grunted.
Just my luck.
The doctor was out for a few minutes which turned out to be an hour to her advantage because she was about to sit down when her name was called. She looked up to discover that the doctor was a nosy deacon in the church she attended and her heart sank. She roused herself slowly and dragged her feet behind the woman in question. The woman didn’t seem to recognise her. She hoped it was a good thing because she wasn’t ready to be judged by the panel of sycophants or be played the sympathy card. But then she hadn’t been in church for months and the woman may also be pretending not to recognise her because she was equally a widow who shouldn’t be with a man until she has finished mourning her husband but then with being in the medical profession it might be easy to have an immaculate conception. Catherine cautioned herself no to judge.
“Please sit down, Mrs Osuji.” The doctor waved at a seat.
Catherine looked sullen as she looked at the woman not sure she was ready for the news she was about to get. She knew the woman was going to give her a lecture on how to lower her sugar intake and probably teach her a thing or two about cholesterol. She didn’t like being at the other end of the pole – being a patient was annoying much more than a nurse forced to work with an irate patient. Although the NHS policy allowed self-medication it was heavily frowned on.
The woman sighed, paused and sighed again.
Good thing she wasn’t in a lab coat. Catherine rolled her eyes, she knew something was wrong, but she wanted the woman to get straight to the point.
Her phone began to ring and her palms became greasy. She saw the doctor’s mouth move but she couldn’t hear anything except the same word that rang in her ear repeatedly like a broken disc on a turntable.
“Mrs Osuji, are you alright?” the woman asked concerned. Not getting any answer she came over to her patient’s side and tapped her gently on the shoulder.
Her temperature rose, from her feet to her head making her uncomfortable. She blinked then tried to shrug it off. The hair on her skin rose. She didn’t understand how she could be so unfortunate to be another victim of that cantankerous vermin of a disease. She always had organic food, never left food in the freezer longer than a day, never microwaved her food. So how could a woman going through so much be given the opportunity to add cancer to her experience?
She felt naked and curled up like she was trying to make herself smaller so people wouldn’t laugh at her. If it was her late husband’s way of getting her to join him, then it was a cruel joke. Opening the door felt like pulling a huge bag of rice and she couldn’t be bothered with shutting it. She cringed as the patients and nurses in the hallway seemed to be talking loudly in muffled sounds. Her vision was so blurry that she was stopped twice, not hearing what they were saying to her she simply nodded. She leant on the wall near the exit for a while.
Soon after she made her exit she heard a horn blare in the distance and looked at the blue salon car beside her and continued walking oblivious to the fact that she was in the middle of the road.
She opened the passenger door of her car and leant on it. A nurse passing by approached her and asked if she was alright and she smiled sweetly at him and he nodded before heading back to the direction she had just come from. She plopped her purse in the back but remained there staring at the distant. She wasn’t in the hospital she worked in but still felt exposed and wished she had taken her daughter’s advice and bought a car with tinted windows. She sulked. My daughter, oh my Amanda, my pearl.
She was still contemplating her predicament when her phone rang. She looked at the LCD and snickered. She never liked the woman’s timing but the woman was certainly going to keep calling her until she picked it up. Sometimes she didn’t know which person in the woman she hated more; her superior at work or the pastor’s wife.
“Good day Ma,” she looked through her organiser, closed her eyes and pursed her lips – she had missed the women’s prayer meeting, four times in a row – she lowered her head, she wasn’t going to hear the end of it especially the woman on the other line knew she was on leave.
“How are you?” a car horn blared. “Hold on, are you driving?”
“Oh my dear, I’ll call you later.” The pastor retorted and the line went dead.
Catherine sighed with relief. Please don’t!
She turned the key in the ignition and exited the car park but just outside the hospital, a car light shone. She wondered why someone’s car’s headlight blinked and stopped then it blinked again, it was daylight. She heard her phone ring again and let it sync with the car’s blue-tooth. “Hello!”
“Where are you?” Stuart, her supervisor asked.
“I know you’re driving but you’re in the opposite side of town.”
“I know, I…” She looked at her rear-view mirror but couldn’t find the car. She should have known, he was so nosy but it helped, she drove a few yards and then turned on her trafficator as she drove round the roundabout back in the direction she came from.
…….To be continued.