Last August I spent time in the hospital. Not as a patient, but as a caregiver. You might think I'd prefer that to being here as a patient, but there are advantages to being the patient. I control the choices I must make as the patient. I choose the good for my body. I also get to know my body and it's intricate inconsistencies. And after five days of uncertainty, dizziness and exhaustion and a heart that decided to samba without permission, I am truly able to embrace and appreciate this mornings sunrise. I thank God for the sun's brilliance against the yellowed brick outside my window. I appreciate the brilliant blue sky as the backdrop. and I really appreciate being able to sit up without dizziness and a flutter in my chest.
What did I learn about being at the hospital? Well......
1. It is true what your mom told you about putting on clean underwear....or any underwear at all.
2. Carrying a small scented spray water bottle in your shower bag can help those of us with curly locks not resemble Don King after a night or two, or three or four or......well, I should have thought about that.
3. Be aware that your nurses are overworked, bright men and women who hold the key to the difference between a good stay and a bad stay. They see folks at their grumpiest and smelliest and ugliest. the have families they would love to be with. Make sure ask them about their lives. They will know all about you before you breeze through the doors that leading to fresh air and Caribou coffee.
4. If your doctor sucks, fire him on the spot. Pray for a Dr. Pierce or a Dr. Askew. Demand a doctor who listens and doesn't try to prematurely discharge you from the hospital with a 12 second visit to your room. Some doctors just need to stay in the heart cath lab.
5. Never forget to ask for Ativan to get to sleep at night. Remember sleeping a strange place is hard enough, but add the frequent check on your vitals, which make no sense to me.....I mean, if I'm hooked up to a heart monitor that shows every skipped, irregular beat of my heart, can't they tell my blood pressure is good and that I indeed have a pulse. Anyway, the Ativan at night let's you wake refreshed and ready to face another monotonous day.
6. Most important thank those around you who made a difference. Hospitals have lost their souls. They have lost the ability to see their human patients as nothing more than the patrons who keep the census at a financial cushion. But within the machine are individual nurses, doctors, nutritional staff, housekeeping staff and volunteers who do their jobs with integrity, a gentle hand and with pride in their work.
I sit here anxiously waiting to shake off these wire fetters that have recorded every beat of my heart for five days. I cannot wait to have the IV removed from my arm and the scannable I.D. bracelets that tell the big machine every time I need to be charged for something. I look forward to throwing off this shapeless gown that is all snaps and openings and putting on some real clothes....even a bra.