What I Learned in the Hospital
1. Most of one’s time as a patient is spent waiting for the food trays to be brought around. I hear the clatter of the cart coming down the hall and smell the distinct aroma of powdered eggs, instant coffee or mystery meatloaf, I hear the cheery voices of the food service workers as they greet the other patients, gauging how far away from me they are, how long it will take to get my tray, to see the smiling face, by how loud the voices and the clattering trays are. The food arrives, placed before me on a tray, the main course enticingly covered with a blue plastic dome. I motor the bed into a sitting position and remove the cover with what I am embarrassed to admit is a flourish of anticipation. The main course is not so enticing without the blue plastic dome. No matter what the meal, I try to drag it out, savor it, if you will, unwrapping and using every condiment, including salt and pepper, which are the two things, and the only two things, the food *doesn’t* need, just to extend the experience of having something in front of me to do that doesn’t involve TV or doctors or the Demerol pump.
2. A Demerol pump helps make the time in between food trays fly right by.
3. Nurses will give you whatever you want (drug-wise) as long as there is a possibility you will be quiet and not ring the call bell. Ever. The night nurse my first night in the hospital got me hooked up to my IV antibiotics, saline, and the Demerol pump. I was asking all kinds of questions about the medicine when he stood up and leaned on the rail on the side of my bed. I noticed he had sweat trickling down both sides of his face. He said, “Listen, Honey, you seem anxious, you want something for that?”
4. Nurses are terribly overworked. My roommate toward the end of my stay had had her second hip replacement. She asked me to ring for the nurse to come and get her off of the bed pan they shoved under her 10 minutes earlier. It took someone another 15 minutes to respond. She also shared a scary story with me: she was in Mount Sinai here in NYC and the nurses were so “overworked” that she had to hire, out of her pocket, a private duty nurse to take care of her. While she was in the hospital. With nurses.
5. Watching medical shows like House, Scrubs, or reruns of ER while actually *in* the hospital is not a very good idea.
6. I can only watch the first half of Law and Order. Not even a Demerol pump makes Sam Waterston or the “actresses” who play the ADAs, some of whom can barely say their lines (Angie Harmon, I’m looking at YOU!) watchable.
7. Demerol does not help with muscle spasms. Several times I got “stuck,” more than once on the toilet, in the throes of a wicked spasm, the knot marching up my back like Sherman’s army through South Carolina, sheer wasteful devastation.
8. Demerol pump helps with #4 and 5 above.
9. It helps if your doctors are good looking.
10. Demerol pump helps with #9.