On Hospitals.

There’s a certain amount of irony in any hospital stay. First of all, what sadistic bozo invented hospital gowns? I’ve seen thong bikinis that afford more modesty, and as far as comfort goes, the idea of a permanent draft down your back is not my idea of a good time. Of course, hospital gowns are the least of your worries if you’re admitted to one of our temples of healing. As I write this, my sister and I are sitting in what is quaintly referred to as a “pre-op” room, waiting for our father to be wheeled into surgery. He’s gowned up, with the IV drip at the ready, all undressed, with nowhere to go. Apparently, Thursday is the “All You Can Sew” day in the operating room, so they’ve got victims patients stacked up like cordwood, awaiting their turn under the knife. This wouldn’t be so bad, but when you’re to go under a general anesthetic, you can’t eat for at least eight hours prior to surgery. In a show of solidarity, neither my sis nor I ate either, so between the three of us, even hospital food is gaining a certain, desperate appeal.

Hospital food. Now there’s an oxymoron (with an emphasis on the last two syllables) that ranks up there with “service station,” “popular prices” and “Congressional ethics.” One of these days, I hope to get a tour of the hidden underbelly of the hospital, where they pour the Soylent Green into the molds that shapes it into the food-like entrees they serve. You are what you eat. (As an aside, if “vegetarians” eat vegetables, what do “humanitarians” eat?)

My gripe du jour, however, has to do with the hospital’s Wi-Fi policy. It seems that the hospital in question has at least acknowledged that there was a 20th century, and has Wi-Fi. Or so my computer tells me. Even better, one (and only one) of the hot spots in the hospital is a public, encryption-free node. Trouble is, while the hot spot shows that I have “excellent” signal, I’m not feelin’ the love…apparently, the public Wi-Fi’s been down for a couple of weeks, and nobody seems terrible concerned about it, nor do they seem to think that repairing it is high on anybody’s list of priorities.

Then there is the parade of nurses, doctors, anesthetists, assistants, and other hangers-on that have made our little 8 x 10 slice of heaven seem like Grand Central Station. (I particularly like it when they come in to check on my Dad and wake him up to determine if he’s resting comfortably.)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad they’re here. I’m glad he can get the health care he needs. And I’m especially glad that he can afford to get it. (Would that I was so lucky.) But I do think that much of what goes on in any hospital is done so that patients – and their families – will be cowed into submission, allowing hospital staff to do the voodoo that they do, without resistance.

I guess what bothers me most about hospitals is that it’s the best place to go if you want to get sick. This is both completely logical and paradoxical in one fell swoop. Wanna find people that drink? Go to a bar. Need to find a lot of religious people? Hang out at a church. Of course, if you frequent bars or churches, you won’t necessarily become a drunk or person of faith. On the other hand, if you hang out at a hospital, odds are you will get sick. In fact, the best thing you can do if you want to get well, stay well, or simply avoid getting sick, is to stay the Hell away from a Hospital. Which makes for a difficult time, when you need medical care.

So I sit here, waiting for the pit crew to come in and haul my Dad in for repairs. While patience is a virtue, I’m not feeling too virtuous at the moment. What I am feeling is hungry. So I think I’ll make food run, before either of us are tempted to make what could be a fatal mistake and chow down on that Soylent Green stuff. Chuck Heston would be proud.

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