Woman walking into the ward where she got her surgery as a visitor with flowers instead of a patient

Walking Back Into the Ward

Almost 5 years after I left the ward where I was post-surgery, I walked back in here tonight.

Tonight, as the workday was drawing to a close for many Glaswegians, I parked my automobile. I am not often in the city center. I live in a village about an hour away.

As I got out of my automobile, I was aware of everyone busily getting ready to head home to their family, to meet friends, to go to the gym, or however else they spend their evenings after work.

I was also acutely aware of the very old building directly facing me - The Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

The building that never sleeps

The building where there was no "home time" for all. No turning off the lights. No turning the key and locking the building until morning.

The building that never sleeps. Where people work shifts around the clock to provide the care needed by the people of Glasgow. From the emergency room to the operating theater, from the neonatal ward to the ward for the elderly.

Since I had my surgery, I have tried to support others in the same or similar circumstances to come to terms with what they have just been through or what could lie ahead.

Sometimes it might just be answering a question posted in an online support group. Other times it’s having a chat on the phone.

Supporting others through similar situations

Recently I had been chatting via messenger with someone facing a similar surgery to mine. They lived not too far away from me, and we shared the same consultant [doctor].

We moved from using instant messenger and started to talk on the phone. I was able to answer some questions they had, and we agreed to meet up in person. We talked a bit about the upcoming surgery. We also talked about curry, tea, and places of mutual interest in Scotland.

After surgery, we messaged often. I provided support where I could, but more often than not, I tried to help to normalize things and talk about everyday things and what was going on.

Today they were well enough for me to visit.

A surreal feelings walking back into the ward

It is hard to say what I was expecting to feel. It was an almost surreal feeling in a way.

After all, before my bladder cancer journey, I was the person who felt faint going inside a hospital building. I was the person who irrationally believed everyone entering a hospital was so ill they wouldn't make it out again. I was the person who felt a panic attack coming on just visiting someone else in the hospital.

So, as I walked back into the old 18th-century building, there was a mix of emotions and thoughts.

Recalling the feelings and emotions of the experience

First, I remembered the feeling of sheer pain, exhaustion, and terror, as while I was critically ill, I entered the building to be admitted for my life-saving surgery.

Next, as I waited for the lift, I thought of how many times my husband had waited right here to get to the ward to visit me and help support me through such a difficult time.

Then entering the ward, feeling strange. Being on the other side. Being the visitor instead of the patient.

As I left the ward, I was reminded that, like airports, everything keeps operating hour by hour, day by day, even when I am not part of the goings on.

As I left the building and walked back to my car, I was overcome with emotions.

Grateful and proud

So grateful for the second chance at life I was given. Grateful for the skilled medical teams who save lives like mine every single day.

However, the overriding emotion was that of pride.

Proud of all I have overcome. Proud of all I have achieved since my bladder cancer journey. Proud most of all of the strength I have to be able to give back and support others going through similar cancer journeys.

Thank you, Glasglow Royal Infirmary

So, to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, you are many things to many people. Thank you for the care you offer to so many.

Walking back into that ward tonight brought apprehension. I need not have worried. You reminded me of all the care I received in that ward. The care that has allowed me to recover, to do all the things I have been able to achieve in the weeks and months post-surgery, and what I will achieve in the years that are still to come.

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