Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hospital Stay

Last week I underwent a minor medical procedure which carries a slight risk of infection. Sure enough, I, who couldn’t win a coin toss in a hundred tries, was the lucky 1 in 10,000 recipient.

I got to spend Father’s Day enjoying fever, chills and, because we were at a brunch buffet, complete loss of appetite. When this didn’t improve the next day, I went back to the hospital for some tests, and won a 3 day, all expense paid vacation in room 7E10.

On the morning of day 2, the IV device that drips saline and antibiotics into my bloodstream started beeping. I know truly sophisticated hospital guests learn to ignore these inconveniences, but with the device tethered 3 feet from my ear by a plastic tube, I found it somewhat distracting. I’m no expert in medical equipment, but I’m guessing the “air-in-line” message that kept scrolling across the screen meant the device thought there was air in the line. I used the “Alert” button to notify the nurse’s station at least 3 times, but no one came to silence the beeping for over half an hour. At once per second, I reckon I endured some 1800 to 2000 beeps. They’re not soothing.

I tried wheeling the IV out and standing in the hall with it, so the whole staff could enjoy the rhythmic signal. People hurried past with complex electronic equipment and trays of food and bags for dirty laundry, but not one person gave the errant IV a second glance.

Maybe I should have ordered some food. Whenever food arrives, a whole procession of hospital personnel mysteriously appears at my door wanting to take some blood, check my urine, give me medications, change my bed, bring me fresh linens, or just generally know how I’m feeling. The timing is too close to be a coincidence. The stampede shows up whenever I’m about to eat or when I’m talking to the outside world by phone. It’s like they’re being alerted by the NSA.

In general, though, the care has been excellent. Apart from a few minor annoyances, the only real drawback is the sheer monotony of hanging around all day in women’s clothing. (No offense intended to anyone who might enjoy that.) Plus, I’ve now mastered the skill of peeing into a bottle while holding a jonny rolled up and tucked under my chin. There must be other uses for that, though I can’t think of any offhand.

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