Final thoughts on hospitalization

Final thoughts on my encounter with hospitals and the American medical establishment this past week:

·        Almost every doctor and nurse we came in contact with seemed suspiciously enthusiastic when talking about the pain-killing drugs my son would receive during his surgery and recovery. While meeting with us in pre-op, the anesthesiologist talked about what the patient could expect as he was wheeled into the operating room: “We’re going to give you some drugs that will make you feel really, really good and you won’t remember a thing that happens.” Then the nurse anesthetist: “You’ll be getting some very fine narcotics.” Then the surgeon himself: “When we pump these drugs into you, you won’t feel a thing except you’ll be very happy and very high.” I half-expected these comments to be prefaced with “Dude.”

·        Is “Xray Café” really the best name for the children’s hospital snack bar? Yes, the rhyme is clever, but it raises the whole specter of irradiated chicken nuggets.

·        In the recovery room just after surgery, a slightly too informative nurse gave us a detailed step-by-step coverage of everything he was doing. He showed us the monitor recording my son’s heartbeat, and noted how it was just a little bit high. For the next 30 minutes, we’d watch with concern as the number would inch slightly higher, then with relief as it would inch slightly lower. Finally, he turned the damned thing off. Our concern returned, though, when he prepared an injection dose, then walked across the hall to another nurse for “verification,” and she just waved him off as if she trusted him.

·        Internal communication among the different practitioners that paraded into our room didn’t seem too effective. Shortly after a resident physician stopped by to talk about the clear liquids the patient would be allowed on the day after surgery, a woman from nutrition services stopped to deliver his dinner: a cheeseburger and fries.

·        Seeing a dark stain in the upholstery of a chair seat in your room is not especially reassuring, especially considering the quantity of gastroenterology patients on the floor.

·        How obsessed do you have to be to pass your time in an OR waiting room by shopping on eBay? Are you seeking a distraction from worrying about the loved one undergoing a life-threatening procedure, or do you simply not care about their outcome? Do they have good buys on stents and wheelchairs you might be needing for Uncle Lou? Or might you be able to purchase a whole new uncle?

·        Speaking of the OR waiting room, doctors would enter periodically to find the appropriate family and report on the outcome of their particular case. Sometimes it looked like they had met the family in advance, but other times they’d check with the receptionist to see who was who. That seemed a little too casual to me. Imagine waiting on your spouse’s appendectomy, and the wrong doctor shows up to report that “the donor heart has been slightly delayed.”

·        While riding up to the tenth floor on the elevator, I noticed that one of the lower floors was devoted entirely to what was called “progressive care.” As opposed to what everybody else in the building was receiving? I began to watch incoming medications more carefully in my son’s room, wary of poultices and monkey paws.

·        The children’s play room at the end of our floor was a great feature for the younger residents. Someone went to a lot of trouble to make sure it was clean, safe, and decorated for the nearest seasonal holiday. In late February, that would be Presidents’ Day and Mardi Gras, so in addition to bead necklaces hanging from the ceiling, there were also silhouette cutouts of presidential profiles. This gave me the uncomfortable image of James K. Polk lifting his shirt so someone would throw him some bangles.

·        I’ve written once already about the “fish channel” on the in-house TV network. This was a relaxing loop of footage showing tropical fish darting about a large, elaborately stocked tank. The only problem was that it proved to be just a little too riveting. You’d find yourself watching closely to find the point where the loop would start over. “Never mind that my uncle just suffered cardiac arrest,” you could imagine family members saying. “That clownfish is being attacked by a betta.”

·        The wide-screen HDTVs in every room were a nice touch, but it was a little disturbing that we weren’t given control over features such as aspect ratio. Our set was permanently set on “wide,” making our viewing of “The Biggest Loser” extremely disturbing. When even Gwyneth Paltrow in “Iron Man” looks chunky, you know it’s a distraction.




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One Response to “Final thoughts on hospitalization”

  1. aka_lol Says:

    this is hilarious 🙂

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