Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Houston

I'm far from home. My mother is trekking to a modern-day Lourdes, hoping that this cancer center will offer up a cure for her sister's illness, and I'm helping out. We join other seekers at this econo-suite-inn we're holed up in, it's teeming with other patients; there's a sort of dorm atmosphere to the place. All those hallway seating areas that usually remain empty in other hotels are occupied by people on laptops and cell phones. It seems everyone's carrying a pillow and blanket. You can borrow DVDs, games and puzzles at the front desk and there's even a free shuttle to the medical center.

Yesterday was new patient registration and the cars streamed into the valet parking, unloading the ill, and those helping their ill. The medical center is a marvel of people management. Ten stories, lettered elevator banks, medical record numbers, online patient communities, emails, and queues work in an intricate, brilliant manner to move 'em in and get 'um done with a minimum of waiting and inconvenience. It really is amazing.

One thing that struck me yesterday (and oh so very much struck me yesterday) was the framed photography at the center. Flowers. Medicinal herbs, many of them. The first one I saw was aloe and I thought, huh, Aloe. But then we were directed to a waiting area called "Elderberry". All the waiting areas were named after plants, medicinal herbs, trees. Our examining room had a huge photo of California Poppies.

I've heard it said that nothing of value is ever truly lost. I guess sometimes it watches from a portrait on the wall.

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