Saturday, 15 October 2011

Things are not always what they seem

I spent some time yesterday in a hospital waiting room awaiting a scan and passed the time, as I often do, in people watching.

There were all the usual suspects, those who were clearly ill and in pain.  Those who were fearful of results. Those who were there to accompany patients, including one small boy of around four years of age.

He was quiet and subdued, pale and thin, and on his upper arms were great black bruises.

Familiar scenario to those of us addicted to Casualty and Holby City.  Though not necessarily a good guide to the child's problems.

Watching with interest to see who would call him in to be seen, I was surprised to hear "Mrs X, we're ready for you now".  Whereupon a small even paler woman in a wheelchair turned to the child and said "xxxx bring my handbag love" and wheeled herself, closely followed by the boy into the consulting room.

Later, she was wheeled on a trolley into the room for her scan and her little boy chatting away to the nurses with them followed carrying her bag.

Now none of this proves anything, merely that it is easy to misread a situation at a casual glance.

It reminded me quite suddenly of an occasion some seven or eight years ago.

I was, as usual, running down the stairs at home when for some reason I lost my footing, pitched forward and fell down the remaining two or three stairs.  I fell forward hitting my face on the front door and collapsed in a heap in the hallway.

John, who had been watching TV ran out to scrape me up, whereupon I fainted.

When i came round, he had opened the front door and was getting the car out of the garage, deeming it quicker to take me than to call an ambulance as our local hospital is only about three miles away.

I was shaky and my head and face hurt but otherwise alright.

On being taken into A & E we got a rather strange reception, I was heaped onto a trolley and put in a side room while John was taken to one side and questioned closely about the accident.

An ECG, blood-pressure, temperature taken, and face photographed age later, we were reunited and as the nurse in the room began to bathe the forehead which by now hurt like h... we realised that they had jumped to the conclusion that I was a 'battered wife'.

Once they grasped that John was the gentlest of men and wouldn't hurt a flea, let alone me, they suddenly became overwhelmingly sympathetic, brought us tea and made all manner of soothing noises.

When I saw my face in the mirror at home I realised that the huge, ostrich egg sized lump, my black eyes and bruised arms had perhaps had something to do with their hostile reaction, but it made me think just how easy it is to make a mountain out of a molehill and completely misinterpret what we are apparently seeing.

A lesson there I think.


  1. People watching is a wonderful way to pass the time. It also encourages the imagination to create stories to go with the people - and I think people watchers hone their instincts so that their stories are often quite similar to the true stories of the people they watch. But not always, as you surmise. The trouble comes when we are wedded to our own version of the story and don't leave room for other scenarios. Many a good mystery novel uses that technique!

    I hope your scan came out ok!

  2. The older I get the more I realise how bad we are at recognizing what we are looking at. I fear we may be losing some of the instinctive skills we once had.
    As we spend more and more time on technological communication so we lose more and more of our old intuitive senses.
    Yes I know I'm a self-confessed Luddite at heart, but I do regret the electronic barriers which are taking the place of 'seeing and hearing' real people.
    Yes, thankyou I think the scan will be ok, have to wait for a week for results.

  3. I think this misinterpretation extends throughout all of society...when we don't know the true facts we imagine all kinds of dire things! Happy you had no lasting ill effects from your tumble down the stairs!

  4. We all can live in an "assumptive world" and the assumptions we make about others often say more about us. As someone who has faced a lot of sweeping assumptions from others, I try not to jump to the worst conclusions myself. It is something we can all do though!

  5. Theanne
    Very true. The imagination is a powerful instrument for good or bad.
    It's when it takes control we need to be wary.
    The tumble downstairs, only one of many such accidents in my careless past did me no harm apart from hurting my vanity for a week or two.

  6. Couldn't agree more Sue. I think speculation/curiosity/nosiness whatever you want to call it is often the road that leads to assumptions.
    Even if we never cure ourselves of the habit, it's as well to keep them to ourselves. "Judge not, lest ye be judged"