Stuff I Learned In The Hospital


Recently, I spent a couple of days in a hospital.  Nothing serious: it was just for a series of tests.  FYI, “tests” is a medical term that means, “We haven’t got a clue what’s wrong with you, but we’re going to stick needles into you until you quit bitchin’ about it.”  Anyway, during my stay, I learned a few things about hospitals, and I feel obligated to pass them along so others can learn from my experience.

1 – Festinare Expectare.  This is Latin for “hurry up and wait.” It should be etched in stone over the entrance to every hospital on the planet.

2 – Everybody tells you to relax.  Hey, folks!  I can relax at a 5 star resort on the Mayan Riviera; I can relax binge-watching Netflix; I can relax soaking in a hot bath with a good book; but nobody can relax in a HOSPITAL!  It’s a HOSPITAL!  You’re stuck in a building with a bunch of disagreeable strangers, the beds are tough, the food is worse, they’ve taken away your clothes and there are people coming to stick sharp implements into you – relaxation is not actually an option.

3 – How do you feel?  Unless you’re in some obvious distress (that you can point to) like a gunshot wound or a broken bone poking through the skin, this is a trick question.  It’s impossible to translate any of the 1,001 aches and pains that can befall a human being into words that make sense.  Think about it!  What is a shooting pain? A burning pain?  How are they different?  When does an “ache” become a “throb?”  Which one is worse?  And it goes on and on.  Even Billy Shakespeare didn’t have the vocabulary to describe pain accurately.   Mere mortals, like you and I, haven’t got a hope.  Which brings us to:

4 – The Pain Scale of 1 to 10.  Whoever devised this comic opera was clearly an idiot.  They tell you that “10” is the “worst pain imaginable.”  I can imagine a lot.  For example, getting hit by a bus has got to be painful, but getting hit by a bus and being thrown into a power pole has got to be worse.  And getting hit by a bus and being thrown into a power pole that bursts into flames has got to be worse than that.  Suddenly, getting hit by a bus is only a “7,” and that could become a “6” if the reason you got hit by the bus is you tripped in the street and broke your ankle.  Here’s the deal.  The worst pain you can imagine is the pain that’s happening right now.  Anything else is mere speculation.

But the most important thing I learned about hospitals is:

5 – Nurses run the show.  Doctors my sashay in from time to time and hog the limelight, but down in the trenches, it’s the nurses who get things done.  If you want to survive in any hospital, suck up to the nurses.  They’re like medieval smugglers: they can get you stuff that ordinary people only dream about.

BTW – Apparently, a tiny percentage of men over 50 have a Vitamin B 12 deficiency: 48 hours and several jabs, pokes and prods later, it turns out I’m one of them.  No biggie.  A couple of dollars’ worth of over-the-counter vitamins, and the headaches are gone, my evil twin is back in his box and all’s well with the world.


pneumoniaFor those of you who noticed that WD was missing from the Internet last Tuesday, December 5, I have one word for you — pneumonia.  For the first time in my life, Flu Season means a lot more to me than, “What a pain in the ass!  I have to get jabbed in the arm again this year.”  Apparently, this year’s flu is particularly vigorous, and in my case, it was downright rambunctious.  In fact, it invited pneumonia over to play, and when the two of them got through with me, I ended up in the hospital.  Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of health care, but this is the first time in a long time that I was the guy on the stretcher.  My, my, my! How the medical profession has changed!

First of all, everybody is really, really young — so young “tummy” and “bum” are now acceptable medical terminology.  It was all very much like High School Musical without the music.  However, I know there were drugs involved because, at one point, I thought I was Gulliver lying there, watching a bunch of little people scampering around, acting liked they’d just captured a being from the land of the Old Buggers.

Second, everybody dresses the same.  I remember when doctors wore white coats and looked like serious storks, nurses wore green scrubs, were two ax handles across the shoulders and could flip a 100 kilo man over on his stomach (tummy?) as easily as a fry cook flips bacon.  These days, the guy in purple could be anything from a cashier to a cardiologist, and I have the feeling I gave most of my medical history to a very polite young person who was on her way to get her swollen wrist x-rayed.  C’est la vie!

Finally, and this is a biggie, the wards have gone co-ed — and, even though I believe in a lot more gender equality than most people (for example, I’m a big fan of women in combat) I do not approve.  Why?  Because men and women don’t get sick the same way.  When men get sick, they revert to their childhood and have one thing on their mind: IT’S ABOUT ME!  However, when women get sick, they go a lot further back than that.  They return to a time when plague, and famine and pestilence roamed the Earth, and women were the dominant gender.  This was long before the trauma and drama of shaming and blaming and feminine hygiene, at a time when serious girls didn’t get pushed around by sleazy Red Carpet Romeos who thought they had an Oscar in their pants.  (Kate Hepburn dealt with guys like Sam Goldwyn, she would have laughed Weinstein off the planet, and Ava Gardner probably would have introduced him to her size 5 patent leather slingbacks — but I digress.)

The reality is, sick women are the busiest beings on the planet because, for millennia, they had to be — or our species would have died out.  Think about it!  Give a man a cold and you get a useless mass of whining, crying and complaining — unable to defend himself.  Give a woman a cold, and you will get a clean house, the laundry done, the car washed, a gourmet meal, two kids bathed and in bed and a pot of chicken soup for the guy on the sofa, with the sniffles — and that’s all after she’s come home from work.  So, putting men and women in the same hospital room is just throwing fuel on both fires.

Let me demonstrate.  I was in the hospital, battling the worst strain of influenza this planet has seen in 50 years, with a whack of pneumonia on the side, and when I got out, I discovered I’d gained weight.  Impossible?  No!  You see, every night the girls from beds 1 and 2 would sneak down to the nurses’ station to use the microwave.  They’d come back with batches of homemade cookies, and we’d all watch Riverdale.  I was so sick I could barely eat seven per episode..