Friday, March 9, 2012

Hospital Stays and Why to Stay at Home

             I remember brightness and light about hospital stays. Way too much. So much I can’t relax or sleep very well. There was a doctor covering all the liver patients on the transplant floor for the week, and he would arrive for his Visit For The Day at 4:30 a.m. Switch on the overhead light for the room, and stand there grinning and saying (far too loudly), “Good morning!” Are you kidding me? “How have been feeling?” Fine, till you arrived. What I was doing, it’s called “sleeping.” Most doctors make you wonder if they are coming by at all.

            There’s always the daily morning stick in the arm for yet more blood, and this comes far ahead of sunrise. Sleeping. Awaken to a light being switched on over my bed so he or she can see. I’m always nice to them because they seem apologetic from the get-go. Then they take my blood, shut off the light, and I lie there thinking about going back to sleep. After about my sixth or seventh hospital stay, I could forget it and fall asleep. But sometimes, I just toss around and then finally pull out a book to read.

            Attending to bathroom needs is problematic because I’m attached by tubing and a needle in my arm to an IV unit that is plugged into the wall. Long before the nurse places the IV, I check out the plug and see how easy or difficult it is to pull out of the socket, what needs to be adjusted to attain easy access to the plug. When the urge comes, depending on just how urgent, I roll out of bed, reach for the plug and free it, grab the IV pole and run or walk to the bathroom. IV antibiotics always make it an urgent matter for me. I beg for Imodium. The medical staff wants to make sure I don’t have C. diff. and I am elected processor of the samples. Now I tell them to find my doctor and she’ll okay the Imodium. One intern got past that system and I yelled at him. He ran away whimpering.

            They want you to wear their non-slip, very attractive (heh-heh) beige socks all the time. I prefer bare feet; probably unhygienic, but I hate being in bed with socks. Once I fell with an IV pole rolling alongside when it stuck in a doorway, and my nurse gave me red socks to wear. They show you can’t be trusted to walk. I wandered the hallways in them, proud and happy.

            The best way to be in a hospital is unconscious. Then make sure you have an excellent advocate who will move heaven and earth to get you the best care. A conscious life there with too much light, noise, lousy food choices and worse food, an uncomfortable bed and basically being tied to it – all of that sucks. The only breaks are visitors – the best – and a nurse who will have a conversation with you. Oh, and finding someone to bring you a latte from Daz Bog on the first floor. Extra foam, please.

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