“I already know that I don’t already know
You are the sunlight
I don’t really care if you don’t understand
You are the moonlight

And that’s alright
Alright with me
Oh, that’s alright”

John Andrew Hall

On a couple of occasions this week I was struck by how much we can communicate without saying anything, and also how we can miscommunicate with words.

I was up in Beaumont yesterday getting a biopsy on my moob.

“Which one ?”


I was called into an examination room and a lovely nurse , Sandra, checked my details and asked me to take off my top and wear a disposable robe. She asked me to lie on the bed and handed me my book, saying that the Professor was in the building but delayed with another patient.

“What was the book ?”

Piranesi, the new one by Susanna Clarke.

I was lost in the book when Sandra came back to say it wouldn’t be much longer. And I was really lost in it and hoping that he’d be delayed a bit more so I could read further when he arrived. After some pleasantries and reassurance, he injected a local anaesthetic into Lefty and told me he would be making a small incision and then he showed me the clicking thing that was going to remove some tissue. And then he proceeded to rummage about my moob , with Sandra mopping up and handing him various pieces of cutlery.

We were all wearing masks, and each time he turned away to deposit tissue in a jar, Sandra looked at me , slightly nodded her head, as if to say “You OK ?” and I nodded back. This simple little gesture , with no words, made me smile and gave me a warm glow…although that may have also been the anaesthetic. I just felt compassion and care in that look.

When we were finishing and the Professor was stitching up Lefty, Sandra said “ You did very well there.” I thanked her and said that when it came to lying down and doing absolutely nothing I was a professional.

I was still thinking about that look from Sandra when I made my way back to the car park where my Soulmate was waiting for me and I saw an elderly gentleman sitting in a wheelchair waiting for a taxi. His partner stood behind, her arms draped around him , her head on his shoulder, and he held her hands. They radiated love. It was a privilege to witness that little moment of theirs.

I’d been in Beaumont the previous day as well, for X-Rays and CT scans. The X-Ray takes about 5 seconds and every time they say “That’s it you’re done.” I always ask “Are you sure ?”. The CT scan takes a bit longer, as they have to insert a canula , through which they administer a radioactive contrast dye. The nice chap told me that today’s scan was going to be a bit different, and may take a little longer. I put my phone and packet of Hacks in a tray and then lay on the bed that moves in and out of the scanner.

“Put your pants down by your side.”

This was indeed different than the last time, but who was I to argue, and as he turned to fiddle with the IV drip I pulled my pants down as directed.

“What are you doing ?” he said as he turned back to me.

You said put your pants down.

“I said put your hands down by your side !”

‘Oh, yes, that makes much more sense’ I said as I hurriedly pulled up my pants. I was now glowing from mild embarrassment and radiation.

We both kept our dignity , and pants, intact for the rest of the scan.

So yesterday when I made it back to the car my Soulmate asked “Well, did you keep your pants on today ?” I smiled. I told her about how brave I’d been, we messaged the family to say we were on our way home and then she asked if I was OK. She knows me better than I know myself, and I think at this stage we could do with a week or two without traipsing up the road to Beaumont.

We drove in silence.

As we passed Drogheda I put my hand over on her lap and she held my hand between both of hers. I looked over, she smiled. She didn’t say anything. Didn’t need to.



Author: paul

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