Hospitals are interesting places. They are like small cities that never sleep.
Often, people regard hospitals with fear. They think of them as cold, quiet, unyielding places filled with terrible sounds, terrible disease and terrible people.
In reality, I think the perception is sometimes correct. There are rare times when all of that is true. There are more frequent times when some of it is true.
I am comfortable in hospitals. I have worked in them for years. I see a subtle beauty and intricacy in them.
During the weekdays, hospitals are bustling with activity. Everything is opening. People move around freely. Like organized chaos. Voices are at normal volume, changes happen all the time. At this time, hospitals are most familiar to people. This is the time most people are in the hospital.
Day hospital is so busy, so big, you miss people. You talk to all sorts. You do plenty of work. It seems time is more limited. You have to rush from place to place. There are labs to check and many people to see and clinics and ORs to attend to.
A strange thing happens around 5 or 6 o’clock. Things get more quiet. There are less people. Fewer noises. Not everything is open or available. Evenings in the hospital are a time of visiting, of relative stability. Less change happens in the evenings. Only important things. Family is present. Chaos dwindles. Just like on the weekends.
As the night grows dimmer, the hospital becomes dark. The lights never go out completely. It seems things, in some ways, don’t change. Through the darkness of patient rooms, nurses and doctors creep in and out checking lines, giving medications. Only the sickest of the sick travel the halls for urgent tests. Things close down.
I love the stillness of night hospital. It is a wonderful time. Night hospital is one of the times where hospital life resembles that of a big city that never sleeps. Still the majority rest, but the ones that work, hustle and bustle with the fervor of someone in the day. It is peaceful, it runs like clockwork. The fewest changes, the least chaos is at night.
You can walk the halls and hear the sound of your own feet. People are more friendly at night, probably because they are fewer of you. The night gives you a commonality. The night gives you time to appreciate people more.
Night hospital makes me uncomfortable. I love the peace, but I am used to day hospital. I am familiar with the chaos, with the need to get a million things done. I can deal with the pages and the running around. There are other people around. At night, you are more alone. You feel vulnerable. Any problem or complication could become more significant than in the day. That is how people learn.
Night hospital is also eerie. It can be lonely. It can be scary. And it can change very quickly. Things go wrong day or night. That is why the hospital is always staffed. There is nothing worse than the peace being broken by the beeps of pagers, the buzzing of alarms and the sound of a code. No, wait… There is… The cries of loved ones.
Hospitals are ecosystems. There is a balance. There is a sort of day/night dichotomy. People depend on one another. They grow and they change. Yet, the patterns and relationships somehow feel similar regardless of where you are. Like a symphony played by different orchestras. Sometimes there are different mistakes, different flourishes, but overall a similar feel bound together by the things that make it similar – the notes on the page or the patients in the beds.