Where time stops but your thoughts still go on

OK, you’d be allowed to think I’m becoming slightly obsessed as I sit and write my second post about 24 Hours in A&E this evening! I have just watched last week’s episode, off the back of finding such resonance with the episode recorded the week before. The stars of this week’s show from my perspective were Ruby and her daughter Sarah. Ruby has been brought into A&E with a swollen knee, the doctor who visits her asks her to tell her about herself, she says she’ll start at the beginning, the conversation goes like this:

Doc: Do you have any medical conditions at all?

Ruby: I’ve had two replacement hips, this one (the right side) was done in July 2009, that one in October 2001. I’ve had high blood pressure but it’s been under control, that’s all.

Sarah: …and stomach cancer

Ruby: Ooooh, I’ve got stomach cancer as well

What I thought was quite striking was how Sarah (Ruby’s daughter) describes finding out that her mother had stomach cancer:

I was with Mum when she was diagnosed with stomach cancer. To start off with I don’t think either of us really clicked that thats what they were saying, umm, they said, what was it that she said? ‘There’s a little bit of trouble’, or ‘there’s something that’s abnormal’, ‘something abnormal’, and um, we both went ‘ohh’ and then it sunk in, and it was like Oh My God. And Mum was so dignified about it, and we both just sat there and it sort of filters in really slowly and you don’t know where you’re going, it’s the most peculiar moment in time where time stops but your thoughts still go on, and then all you can think about, is how do I make this better.

It was just another example of something that rang a bell for me, that sense of hearing but not processing, of time standing still but moving on at the same time. If you don’t know what it’s like to have cancer, or to imagine what it is like, and/or if you work with people in that situation, or are studying and want to know what it is like, then you could do much worse than taking an hour or two to watch 24 Hours in A&E.

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