I am sitting in my room in this vast rehabilitation clinic. White walls, light furniture, a desk, a bed, a chair. Orange curtains, bluish carpet. Neat little bathroom with grey tiles.

Tomorrow I will leave. I have treated the furniture with care and will leave no stains or scratches. 12 hours from now somebody else will move into this room and will find no trace of me. Maybe a whiff of my perfume will linger in the air. Maybe.

This place is huge. There are 250 patients here. I have been treated by six or seven different physiotherapist, have seen three different doctors and a number of nurses. I have partaken in  different groups, doing different kind of exercises. In each group there were different patients.

You take your meals on the same place every day. You form a kind of comradeship, share your experiences of the day and then you go back to your individual treatments. Every week there will be a new face at the table. People come and people go. You exchange addresses. 

Will anybody leave traces? Each year  about 3000 human beings pass through this clinic. Get treated for their bad backs, their problems with hips, knees or shoulders. Each of them is  a patient, with a diagnoses. The quality guidelines determine the  kind of treatment. Patients get a plan each week that tells them when and where their treatment will take place.

People are always wandering the corridors, nodding at each other. You get to know the faces, but you never meet.

Every patient has to listen to a number of lessons on health issues. If you are overweight or suffer from Diabetes you will get a 30 minutes personal nutrition consultation. That applies to 70 % of the clients.

The therapists are friendly and helpful. They answer questions, they smile,  but many avoid eye contact.    They see different patients every day, every week. Now and then there might be a case that sticks in somebody’s mind. 

Will I leave traces in this clinic? No.  My face and my diagnosis will be replaced by somebody else. It is unlikely that I will return. If another treatment in a rehabilitation clinic will be necessary, the payer, the health system, will decide where it will be.

Will I leave traces with my fellow patients? We have exchanged phone numbers, there have been some good conversations at the tables and some evenings  shared in the pub around the corner. I got new addresses stored in my phone. We will write to each other and meet on Facebook. At least for a while.

Will this stay leave traces in my life? Yes.  I feel healthier and more relaxed than 3 weeks ago. I am full of energy.   I have met people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I have had a good time. I have learned that even in an anonymous system you can find kindness, you can meet for a few moments and then be on your way.

We all want to leave traces. They confirm our identity, our importance. Wouldn’t it be terrible if there was no evidence of our existence?

I hope I will leave traces and do my bit to make this world a good place to live in. But it can also be a good thing to just drift through a system together with others and not leave  any traces behind.


This was written as answer to the weekly writing challenge: Traces 

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