No one likes a hospital stay. That's pretty much a given.
But why don't they like it? We need research!
Luckily (sorta), I've had some experience lately -- a six-week stay that ended in January, and a surprise return visit last week. So let me offer my five reasons why staying in a hospital sucks.
5. False advertising You know all those porno movies, back in the day when they had to have at least 35 seconds of plot and dialogue before the bass kicked in and the lovin' began? Half of them involved a voluptuous nurse getting it on with an initially confused but eventually happily surprised patient. Turns out, such things never happen.
No wonder they invented the Internet.
4. The amazing lack of options on the Pain Medicine poster Every hospital room these days, or at least the ones I've been in, has a small poster concerning pain and pain medicines.
It consists of a row of a half-dozen or so faces, designed to indicate how much pain you're in. If you've got a sad face, say, your pain level is six. A sad face with curved eyebrows, though, and you're moving into eight territory. (Since you can't actually see your eyebrows at the time, it makes such self-diagnosis difficult.)
The object of any patient, as everyone knows, is to get as much pain medicine as possible. But there isn't a face to indicate that option.
Sure, in this version of the poster...
...ol' Number One on the far left looks fairly happy.
But where are the headphones blasting his favorite music into his ears while he sings screamingly along? Where's the tweeting little birdie circling around his skull, indicating knocked-out bliss? Where's any evidence that he now finds Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay to be funny?
That's the level of pain medicine we're seeking, and it's not on the menu. You call that customer service?
3. I'm sure God has better things to do I suppose if you're in a hospital with the word "Methodist" in it, you should expect to get some Biblin' thrown your way during your time as a bedridden captive audience of one. But "no" means "no," right?
Apparently not, because you may find yourself enmeshed in dialogue like this with a friendly, smiling person on a mission from God: Smiley: Hi there -- how ya feelin'? Me: [Big sigh as I barely lift my head from the pillow to see who could be so damn happy and enthusiastic at this horrid, miserable point in human existence] Uhhh.....hi. Smiley: Yeah, hey, I was just goin' around, makin' my rounds and all and I was wonderin' if you'd like someone to talk to. Me: Talk to? Smiley: Y'know, about the Lord and whatnot. Me: The Lord? No, that's okay, I'm good. Smiley: Doesn't have to be about the Lord, necessarily -- we could talk about any type of higher power you like! Me: Really, I think I'm covered. Thanks very much, though. Smiley: Well, I know it can get kinda lonely in these rooms and you can be worried about your health and -- Me: No, really, that's okay.
Repeat dialogue, with tweaks if you prefer, for the next 20 minutes.
2. Those oh-so-vital "vital signs" I fully realize that the use of "vital" in the phrase "vital signs" means they're important. But do they actually change that much that you have to check them every ten minutes?
Not every ten minutes, of course. Just those ten minutes that occur between say, 3 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., when the people who hassle you to order breakfast take over responsibility for enforcing the "No Sleep Allowed" policy. And I'm sure those folks would say they couldn't have done it without the people who rumbled the noisemaker carts down the hall in the predawn hours, or the people who stopped outside my door to chat, mostly about ways to make more noise, I'm betting.
1. The damn Rockets All season long, people -- especially those whose paychecks are signed by Les Alexander -- have been wondering where the hell all the Rockets fans were this season.
I have discovered the answer: They've all been working at the Texas Medical Center.
Throughout my recent brief stay, nurses and aides came in the room to do some sort of business (taking vital signs yet again, most likely) and, if a Rockets-Thunder game was on, they were glued to it. (If the game wasn't on -- because, say, you were trying to finally get some sleep -- they accusingly wondered aloud why it was not on your TV.)
Most disconcerting moment: A nurse taking a blood sample from me -- a nurse, I should add, who appeared to be a very enthusiastic and energetic Rockets fan. There's nothing like watching your arm in abject horror as someone is trying to poke a mammoth needle into a reluctant vein, all the while doing intense body English to get that ten-foot jumper to drop.
Oddly, it's different with Texans games. All of a sudden you don't get any staff visits for, say, three hours or so, depending on timeouts. They must be attending seminars or something.
Like I said, though, the staffers are really all hardworking, efficient and talented. And I have heavily invoked my Dramatic License right to exaggerate things. But it's the God-given right of a patient to complain, and by God I intend to use it.