This morning's session at the hospital, to pick up Mma's monthly supply of meds, reminded me how fortunate I am, despite whatever difficulties I may have. I feel like I am wrapped up in priviledge, and whenever I go to the hospital, something happens to remind me how the majority of South Africans are struggling financially.
One such instance was a young woman, in her twenties, who couldn't pay the minimum fee of R20 (a bit more than $2). For this fee, she would get a consultation with a doctor, do whatever tests she needs and get all her prescribed medicines. Sounds like a good deal, doesn't it, considering how expensive medicines can be. Except, she couldn't afford this fee.
She kept telling the clerk that collects payment that she didn't have the money because she was unemployed and hadn't worked for months because she lost her job while she was hospitalised for three weeks. (and yes, you do have to broadcast your business in public because there is no privacy when dealing with the clerk).
I thought about how much it would bite if I couldn't even afford the R20 fee to access public healthcare, and whether she had any money to at least make a good meal that night. ( I later saw her walk away from the hospital. No car or public transport money, I guess).
Of course I couldn't wallow long in that situation, because an older woman who was sitting near me, waiting to see a doctor in the outpatient clinic keeled over and pissed on herself, and then her young companion started screaming for help. It took a while to get a nurse, so a couple of us (some of the people were outpatients waiting to get help too), picked her up and put her on the bed in one of the consulting rooms. And I hoped that they would admit her into the hospital and not send her back home still wet with her own piss. Apparently she's diabetic and had gone into sugar shock. I hope that never happens to my mother in public.
That kind morning gives you a good perspective on what's important, you know? It reminded me not to sweat the small stuff because overall, I have a very good life, with very little trauma. And most of the things I regard as basic necessities, like a diet that includes a variety of vegetables and meats, or being able to go see my GP whenever I need to or to buy whatever meds I need, is actually a luxury for some people.
And no, this is not a race issue/about how Black South Africans struggle because of apartheid/the state of the economy/socio-economic situation. We all struggle. And for the record, both parties from this morning's drama were White.
I hope that times will get better and paying the minimum fee to access healthcare services will get easier for everyone. And that the majority of South Africans will be able to afford to eat well enough... and will have some money for public transport.
Meanwhile, on the business front: I came home to find 3 emails bringing me new assignment briefs. And there is a potential for more work in the horizon, in addition to what I still need to finish. God bless long-term clients who consistently send work! They are who stands between me and the situations I observed this morning.