[Author’s Note: I wrote this blog post yesterday morning while
incarcerated in the hospital for a bad bladder infection and several kidney stones. I’ve since been released until surgery tomorrow, which is when they’ll remove the biggest stone. But worry not, loyal so-and-sos! I’m okay, and I’ve had this surgery before. Just read on and laugh.]
Hospitals are in many respects a necessary and benevolent evil. We all know this. The long walks, the interminable waits, the crowded elevators, the arrogant doctors who ask us the same questions a thousand times, the other patients who are always way sicker and grosser than we are… these facets of the hospital experience are well known to each and every one of us.
Yet every time we find ourselves within the confines of a hospital’s walls – those institutional but familiar “what is this, taupe?”-painted walls — we quickly devolve into a state of bitchy, offended surprise at the delays, inconveniences, and blasé attitudes of medical personnel who are often Completely Over It.
How is it possible that in this day and age we still get caught off guard by these things? They are the unavoidable truths of hospital life. Every washed-up hack comedian has written jokes about them. Every friend and family member has personal stories of them. We’ve experienced them ourselves, over and over again. WE SHOULD KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT BY NOW.
I’m no exception to this phenomenon. I’m typing this very post from a hospital bed, and in the 18 hours I’ve been here I’ve already racked up about a dozen stories of boredom and discomfort, bureaucracy and waste, clueless medical staff and irritating elderly roommates who may or may not be LOUDLY SMACKING THEIR LIPS AS WE SPEAK.
And I want to bitch about these things to everyone.
But we’ve all heard these stories, right? No one wants to hear more of this shit, do they?
WELL, TOUGH! IT’S MY BLOG.
Here we go.
Story #1: I went to the Emergency Room at 6:00 PM and was not admitted to an actual hospital room until 4:30 AM. When a very nice nurse with extremely poor timing came in at 5:00 AM and brightly asked me: “SO DID YOU GET ANY SLEEP?!” I wanted to punch her with my forehead.
Nurse: “Would you like a Percoset?”
Me: “Can I get a heating pad instead?”
Nurse: “I’m sorry, but I can’t get you a heating pad unless a doctor orders it for you.”
Me: “So you can get me Percoset, but not a heating pad?”
Nurse: “That’s right.”
Nurse: *defeated sigh* “I know.”
Story #3: I am currently not allowed to drink any water. Not even one drop. The nurses have been extremely strict about it — so strict, in fact, that when they granted me permission to have a tiny little swallow with which to take my Percoset, there was much rejoicing.
Still. Fear not. What I *can* have instead of water is AS MANY ICE CHIPS AS I WANT.
Yep. Dead serious over here. About 2 hours ago I was given a humongous 28-ounce cup of ice chips, and I have already eaten over 8 ounces worth. Plus, as the ice melts, as ice is wont to do, it creates… well, you know. Water. Which I then drink.
Call me judgmental, but I think that somewhere in this hospital there *might* be some medical personnel who need refreshing on that whole “Water as Solid, Liquid, and Gas” lesson from elementary school.
My roommate (who I will now refer to as “Old Lip Smacks”): ”NURSE!”
[Side note: Old Lip Smacks never presses the nurse call button. She just yells “NURSE!” out into the hallway until someone finally comes to shut her up.]
Nurse: “What is it?”
Old Lip Smacks: “I’M HONGRY.”
Nurse: “That’s good! It means you’ve got your appetite back!”
Old Lip Smacks: “IT AIN’T GOOD WHEN YOU DON’T GOT NOTHIN’ TO EAT!”
Nurse: *confused* “But there’s a whole tray of food right here next to you.”
Old Lip Smacks: “NO THERE AIN’T.”
[Side Note: Yes there was.]
Nurse: *pulls the food cart a little closer* “Look. It’s right here.”
Old Lip Smacks: *disgusted* “THAT? THAT AIN’T FOOD.”
[Side Note: Yes it was. Old Lip Smacks had been given PLENTY to eat. She just didn’t want any of it. The French toast was “too sweet.” The peanut butter “made her stomach hurt real bad.” The scrambled eggs were “I DON’T EAT NO EGG.”]
Hospitalist: “So I hear you talked to your urologist this morning.”
Me: “No, I didn’t.”
Hospitalist: *confused* “But it says here in the notes that he stopped by.”
Me: “He didn’t.”
Hospitalist: “Are you sure?”
Me: “And I haven’t slept at all so I know I didn’t miss him.”
Hospitalist: *befuddled stare*
Me: “So maybe you could look into that.”
Hospitalist: “Yeah.” *looks at clipboard in vague disbelief* “Yeah, I think I will.”
[Side note: The urologist arrived 5 minutes later.]
Story #6: This morning I heard Old Lip Smacks shouting down a NURSE! for her bedpan. Now, I have an elderly father and elderly grandparents, so bedpans and diapers and whatnots don’t phase me in the least. (I’m mentioning this because I don’t want you guys to think I’m making fun or being agist — I’m merely setting the stage.)
Eventually the NURSE! arrived and Old Lip Smacks was dumped unceremoniously on top of the bedpan. Of course, I was behind a room-dividing curtain so I couldn’t actually see her — but believe me, I could *hear* her. Which is why I got to hear every second of the most DISGUSTING sounds of defecation I have ever encountered in my entire life. It sounded like someone was dragging a serrated knife through sheet after sheet of industrial-sized bubble wrap.
And the SMELL! I’ve never smelled anything like it and I would do just about anything to never have to smell it again. This is not an exaggeration — it smelled like someone had cut open Old Lip Smacks’ belly and found a dead raccoon inside. A dead raccoon who had eaten the worst-smelling shit in the whole world. And then shit it out. Inside her colon.
Lord, it was so bad I could almost TASTE it. In fact, I was chatting to my girl T when the whole thing went down, and I wrote to her: “OH MY GOD. IT’S IN MY MOUTH.” Then, completely coincidentally, my husband walked into the room, almost gagged, and whispered: “OH MY GOD. IT’S IN MY MOUTH.”
(Someone on my Twitter feed once tweeted something like: “I just farted and it was so bad that my dog started chewing the air.” This smell was like that. CHUNKY.)
Anyway, all of that was funny. But the funniest part was much later, after the nurses had changed shifts:
Old Lip Smacks: “NURSE!”
Old Lip Smacks: “MY STOMACH HURTS REAL BAD.”
Nurse: “Well, I’m sorry to hear that. Have you had a bowel movement today?”
Old Lip Smacks: *in the sweetest most liar-ish voice that ever was* “OH NO, SWEETHEART. NO BOWEL MOVEMENT TODAY.“
As my girl T said: “The smell in the air says she’s a liar.”