Having spent the past week in the hospital with my mother, a few things about “life” there on the geriatric floor seem worth noting. Sounds like a list coming up, doesn’t it? Well before I get into that, let me just say that few careers deserve more appreciation than the medical profession. They’re amazing geniuses with a dedication that’s off the charts – especially nurses. Without them, everyone in the place would be dead by morning. They do it all, and they do it well, and we should raise our glasses in high praise of those who answer this calling.
I think most of the problems in hospitals originate with the business part of things. Like any giant system, there are difficulties built into every process, but the public seems somehow induced to increase the drama. I was quite entertained by a lady who, apparently driven by a compulsion of Biblical proportions, verbally assaulted a cafeteria worker. You know, if the Eggs Benedict are below your personal standards, stick to some cornflakes or a bran muffin, and let the rest of us eat in peace. You’re an obvious foodie, Myrtle, but it’s only a cafeteria.
Our social worker laid out a great exit strategy, with tons of dotted i’s and crossed t’s, but she doesn’t work 24/7 and her Sunday replacement couldn’t find the notes, so it became confusing instead. And the old horn dog in room 346, who slithered through the halls and peeked into everyone’s room, came very close to restraints several times. I also wonder why some of the medical staff acted as if my mother couldn’t make her own decisions. She definitely can, and she doesn’t like jello. Asking me won’t change that.
But enough. Here’s the list. I’ll refer to it as “Ten Things About Hospitals That Make Me Sick.”
1. I don’t know who decides the room temperature, but they are clearly manic/depressive.
2. I’ve noticed that in this hospital, the specialists with the worst bedside manner refuse to wear the lab coat. Ah, the rebellious spirit. I get that, but rude behavior toward old ladies is trifling no matter how many letters follow your name.
3. Not all old people have dementia. Be clear, and talk loud – they’ll get it.
4. Someone should invent a push cart with quiet wheels – we could call it “the stealth cart.” They could zoom up and down the halls 1,000 times a day and no one would ever know.
5. Are the chairs in patient rooms designed to make you leave? And itch? (Is that something else?)
6. Why are there six full boxes of blue latex gloves in every room, but not a single wash cloth?
7. The creepy, sixty-ish male nurse who looks like Vincent Price and sounds like Liberace should not be touching my mother’s boob while giggling and requesting she breathe deeply. Just sayin…
8. There are three different books about the afterlife available at the gift shop. I swear!
9. In order to smoke, we had to walk 500 feet away to a glass hut in the woods, which is why we hid around corners and cheated. It felt like Reefer Madness and we were “incurably insane.”
10. Geriatrics deserve something less compromising than the traditional hospital gown.
Well, no matter – we’re home now. It felt a lot like a prison break though – the fresh air was exhilarating; the hounds were hot on our trail… All in all, my mother owes her life to this multitude in scrubs, and we won’t soon forget it, but the experience itself could benefit from some improvement. I’m just glad my mother didn’t behave like some of those others. Discipline and upbringing, I guess – I was proud of her. Older people wear dignity so well sometimes.
Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon
There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.