Having just finished reading the philosopher, Giorgio Agamben's book Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, it was interesting to be admitted for day surgery. What has politics to do with waiting for surgery you may ask? On reflection it was how the waiting was drawn out in the first of several 'spaces' of non-existence. Holding bays that formed a quintessential overlap between being and non-being in the life of the ward and the nurses involved.
Having been passed through the mounting paper work that is involved in the admittance of a 'patient' into the hospital system the body is left in a shielded area that can be looked in upon but not out wards. The indistinguishability of the clothing from every other body in the same situation added to the ethereal effect of being present but not-present. Dressed for theatre in a sameness that was a reducing for all the bodies in a similar situation and de-marked the body as being outside but inside at the same time. We were outside the normality of life as we awaited surgery or procedure and appeared to be treated as something 'sacred'; put aside from life prior to a sacrifice (surgery) that would could not happen in that place. Yet we were inside the functioning system of the whole and an integral part of the day to day life of the nurses and ward staff as they served the needs of the system but not the person.
Time passed with no knowledge of time passing as there was nothing to indicate the passage of time. It was as if we were within a cocoon waiting for a signal to arrive for an emergence into something new that had become. The un-marked body was removed or removed itself to another place of waiting before entering into the theatre.
It emerged from the theatre now marked into the same place that was before. A de-marked area shielded and obscure had now become a place of activity and renewal. The body now became the centre of attention rather than a place of absence. Concern and empathy was present where preoccupation and inattention were before. Time was rather than the was not of earlier. The sacred and untouchable had become the site of touch and normal life.
Was that deserted place of the before but a seeking of God's presence outside of the ward community. An intrusion into life as perceived by the staff. God's presence that was only found in the empathy and care that was given after the body had been marked as being part of life in the theatre.
Should as much attention be given to the body before as is given after? or is it alright to manage the incoming as another anonymous body once the paper work had been done? Is there a place for a sympathetic ear and an openness to others rather than a sealing off into a space that has been set apart? A place that could give rise to fears and trepidation would then become a place of solace and comfort, of ease and relaxation prior to theatre.
A thought no more than a fleeting thought.