Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The hive at night...

During the daylight hours hospitals hum along like giant bee colonies. Workers everywhere, task oriented, some bring things in, some bring things out, some cleaning, some building, some fixing things. It hums, loudly, a never ending drone of activity punctuated by occasional bursts of what seems to the untrained eye like moments of utter chaos, and to the participants like an intricate dance. The biggest hospitals never sleep, the buzz goes on and on, in shifts, in perpetuity. The hive that is the hospital drains a little energy out of each worker to keep as it's own. It can be exhausting.

In smaller hospitals (like the hospital here in Iqaluit) the buzz quiets at night. All the excess movement stops, and all that are left are the nurses, a doctor, and a few sick people. Coughs, colds and such rarely make the trek out to the hospital emergency room in the middle of the night (especially when the weather is fierce), and the people left coming in are generally there for good reason. Alcohol brings them in, lacerations, fractures, and alcohol overdose. Pain brings them in, chest pain, renal colic. Breathing problems bring them in, heart failure, asthma, pneumonia. Fear brings them in, babies with fevers, relatives of dying patients who are afraid.

The hospital I trained at was right on a lake and had a spectacular view from the main tower. On a summer evening a chance to appreciate the view of sunset over the water from the top floor was a wonderful stolen moment. Here in Iqaluit I like to step outside at night in the quiet moments, shivering in the cold, to watch the dance of the aurora.

At night there is sometimes time for moments of laughter, or moments of sadness with time to appreciate it's meaning. Nighttime produces snacks in hospitals, baked goods that magically have no calories during the darkest hours. The patients left can be sick but it is easier to focus on them without the surrounding buzz. The bees are mostly sleeping and the hive is quiet. It's my favorite time to be in the hospital.

1 comment:

Liana said...

Hee hee, bees actually do little dances to communicate with other bees ie to tell them where flowers are and such. Your hive analogy just made me picture the people in the hospital doing little dances to communicate.