Hospital Cheer…Thursday Doors.

Welcome to Another Thursday Doors.

This week’s Featured Door is attached to the Respiratory Investigation Unit at Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney.

When you think about having a Merry Christmas, the last place you want to end up, aside from the local morgue is in hospital. That also applies to the weeks leading up to Christmas where it seems like the rest of the world is floating in bubbly and doing the Christmas party circuit, while you’re shuffling from appointment to appointment. That’s not all bad if it’s all routine, good news and you can wipe all that off your radar.

However, it doesn’t always work out that way. Six years ago, after my auto-immune disease flared up again and was resisting conventional treatment, I found out that they were bringing out the big guns and I was having chemo for Christmas. Yet, while this might seem like the worse Christmas present EVER, we actually viewed it as a blessing, a heaven-sent answer to prayer, and not a curse. They could do something.


I wasn’t intending to revisit this journey today for Thursday Doors. Although I had lung function tests followed by an appointment with my lung specialist, I was intending to focus on my apres-appointment trip into the city (Sydney) where I photographed oodles of intriguing, eye-catching and even historic doors.

However, before I sorted them out, I wanted to acknowledge the efforts hospital staff have made to brighten up the place, trying to lift your spirits through what are often very traumatic, bleak and desperate times. News you don’t want at any time of year, but especially not at Christmas. Bad things aren’t allowed to happen over Christmas. That should be written into the fine print. Moreover, you wouldn’t be the first person to try to sue God either. Do you remember Billy Connolly in The Man Who Sued God?

Anyway, when I turned up for my lung function tests today, they’d decorated the doors for Christmas and clearly I had to take a photo for Thursday Doors.

I still remember when I walk out of those doors when I was first diagnosed with the fibrosis, and was absolutely distraught. My kids were only seven and five at the time and obviously needed their Mum. I felt bad if I was even five or ten minutes late to pick them up from school, and it was incomprehensible that I wouldn’t be there to pick them up at all. I left the lab with a single tissue and ended up in the hospital chapel sobbing my heart out, and there wasn’t a single tissue in the place. As hard as that tissue tried to cope with the deluge, it was overwrought. I ended up having to sneak back into the hospital toilets, get myself together and buy some tissues. I distinctly remember saying I had hay fever. What a duffer. A year or so later, when things deteriorated, I burst into tears in the hospital shop and the pink ladies rallied around me with such love. They were beautiful.


Christmas Decorations in the Northern Cancer Centre. I think they’re Santa Kangaroos.

Anyway, as I mentioned, my specialists decided to treat the flare up using a chemotherapy drug called cyclophosphamide, which then introduced me to the Northern Cancer Centre on level 1 for my treatments. While I was there, I found out they had a resource centre and I came across a series of work booklets put out by the Cancer Council. These were really helpful for dealing with those really hard questions around death and dying, especially for families with kids. I was mentioning these booklets to a friend recently and that’s what brought me back to lvl 1 today. _DSC7625

Christmas Raffle at the Northern Cancer Centre downstairs.

Having photographed the doors upstairs, I asked the staff if I could photograph their Christmas decorations. I felt like a bit of an idiot, but I wanted to back up the doors upstairs with a another example of how the hospital was getting into the Christmas spirit. Anyway, much to my delight, they upped the anti and asked me if I wanted to have my photo taken in their elf frame. Being an irrepressible extrovert, of course, I jumped at the chance. It was a lot of fun.





Before I head off and while we’re talking about the hospital’s Christmas celebrations, when I was there on Tuesday, a jazz band was playing the foyer and it’s something they’re doing during December. I couldn’t thank them enough. I’d actually just been to see a friend and it was an emotional time. So, it was really therapeutic to listen to the beautiful music and feel soothed. It was so thoughtful!


Well, I realize that talking death, dying and hospitals is a rather gloomy subject at this time of year, when I reflect that I’m still here six years later and in reasonable health, it actually becomes a celebration. A good news story which might touch somebody else’s troubled heart with a touch of hope. After all, as much as we might not want to be in hospital, the alternative is far worse and rather permanent.  So, I’d better close off this Thursday Doors with a huge shout out to all the doctors, nurses, physios, OT’s and support staff who help get us back on out feet and out the door.

This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0. Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors. It’s a lot of fun and helps you see parts of the world you’ll never get to visit.

Best wishes,


15 thoughts on “Hospital Cheer…Thursday Doors.

  1. Norm 2.0

    As someone with a chronic condition of his own I can identify with a lot of this. It has taught me that being able to be thankful for our blessings every day, and appreciate all that is good in our lives rather than focus on the few bad things that we can’t change, is truly the secret to happiness no matter what the situation may be.

  2. Jean Reinhardt

    Your photos are so bright and cheerful, they lift the spirit, thanks for sharing them and your story. Wishing you a healthy end to the old year and a good start to the new one.

  3. Tails Around the Ranch

    We were visiting patients earlier this week and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a festive place. It made me realize how much more cheerful it must feel for patients as I couldn’t stop smiling at all the decorations and stockings hung at the nurses station. Especially since I’ve done zilch when it comes to Christmas preparations. Eek!

  4. Rowena Post author

    Yes, Melissa. These were just routine appointments, although the underlying auto-immune disease has its moments.
    Best wishes,

  5. Rowena Post author

    Monika, I was thinking of you and Sam this week when I visited a friend in intensive care with MND. I don’t know if therapy dogs are allowed in ICU but it was so white in there and I just want to nsplash it with colour. I actually thought some virtual reality goggles would be good for people who are in hospital long term. It doesn’t change or replace their reality but it could give them a lift. My friend does get outside at times, which is good. A Sam would be a welcome addition. As you know, the family and friends could also use that canine support. As much as I’m used to hospitals, it’s been a long time since I was admitted and I’ve been more on the patient side of things, than being the visitor. Of course, it was very important to me to be a good friend and reminded myself that just being there was enough. But, when you have some experience of what your friend in going through, I think you want to go the extra mile. At the very least, not be clueless.
    I’m way behind with Christmas and my aunt and parents are coming here on Sunday and the house is dreadfully messy. Had a cleaner coming this afternoon. However, we had a big storm and she cancelled. It’s starting to feel like raising the Titanic.
    We’ve decided not to bother with a Christmas tree this year. No room at the inn and the puppies are still chewing. I did see a scrumptious chocolate Christmas tree in town yesterday. I was very tempted but there’s also the heat.
    Wishing you luck with your preparations.
    Best wishes,

  6. Rowena Post author

    Me too. The psychological stress you go through in hospitals is through the roof and seemingly small gestures like this with a bit of individuality can go along way.

  7. Rowena Post author

    Thanks very much, Jean. I don’t always focus on the bright side, which might also be why I appreciated these efforts to cheer the place up. Thank you for your wishes for good health. They’re much appreciated. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy and healthy New Year,

  8. Rowena Post author

    Me too. I passed on my thanks to woman involved with organizing the music and her face lit up. She really appreciated my appreciation.

  9. Tails Around the Ranch

    Going on holiday late last month turn my internal calendar into a tailspin. One day is was November with loads of time and then it was December with little room to spare. I’m hopelessly behind with little done yet. *Sigh*

    You’re right, some color could be a pleasant factor in the hospital healing process. Luckily the hospital we visit has good staff who recognize that. We are allowed in ICU for visits and I’ve seen the faces of very ill people light up when they see the therapy dogs. It’s very heartwarming. We had some very impactful visits this week, particularly at hospice. It was such a privilege spending over an hour and half with a patient and his wife, usually we only interact with family as the patients are usually asleep. We think about those folks and hope they flunk out like my mom did a couple of years ago. She wasn’t ready to leave and so she didn’t! Have a good weekend and enjoy the visit with the family. 💖

  10. Rowena Post author

    That is so true, Norm. Over time, I’ve also experienced that adjustment in my perspective, as I’ve moved into acceptance. UNfortunately, there are many people who don’t make this journey and never seem to move beyond asking: “Why me?” My kids were very young when I was diagnosed and I’ve always wanted to be an active part of their lives and for them to know me. That is, me the person and not just the disease. I made a choice to try to seize life with both hands and swing from the rafters Tarzan-style. Have had a few accidents along the way, but have developed resilience. That said, there are days where I’d like to take off my superhero cape and have a day off. We were reportedly having a huge hale storm here this afternoon, so I drove the car down to the local shops through heavy rain to park it undercover. During the last hailstorm, I did the reverse and was out photographing the huge black clouds when it hit and the car was pummeled. My friend’s the local lifeguard and he saw me out on the beach with the camera and thought: “What’s Rowena doing out there?” Did get some amazing photos though.

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