Sunday, December 18, 2011

Oh, the Sights, the Sounds, the Smells...

Here I go again--relaying tales of being an impatient in patient. 

In addition to my initial observations, captured here, I offer now the feast of the senses that a hospital stay can bring to you.

The first thing that really strikes me is the SOUNDS.  There are dings, buzzes, beeps, muffled voices, loud voices, confused voices, footfalls, cart wheels, squeaks--too many sounds to be able to convey them in silent print.  We do live in an increasingly noisy world, but a hospital adds new dimensions to the world of noise.  Most of us are accustomed to hearing cell phones.  At least when it's your cell phone, you know how to identify the sound.  In the hospital, the sounds are simply baffling.  Is that beep coming from me?  And should I do something about it.  Most of the sounds trigger a staff reaction--understandably.   We patients are tethered and monitored and an errant sound might mean we are making a concerted break for it.

Next come the sights.  While a hospital is generally a sterile environment--not in the bacterial sense, but in the artistic sense--there is plenty to see in a hospital.  There are, of course, the ubiquitous fluorescent lights.  They are on everywhere...all...the...time.  Day and night.  My bed was closer to the door, so at night, the hall light came pouring in.  I drew the privacy curtain (huh! is that ever mis-named) not so much for privacy but for a bit of light dimming.  At home, I need a dark dark dark room to sleep happily.  There are many other sights--some potentially embarrassing.  Hospital gowns are not made for modesty.  The opening in the back can fly open at the slightest provocation.  Don't even try to keep your clothing on...any care requires some skin exposure.  So, you just learn to bare what you must.

And then there's all that measuring.  Your height, your weight, blood pressure, heart rate,  lung clarity, oxygen level, water intake, urine output.  Oh, yes, you get measured.  The urine part was...interesting.  You place a small plastic contraption inside the toilet seat, and when you have finished, you either put the plastic container on YOUR shelf, or you read and record the amount.  I asked to do the latter--even converting the ounces to milliliters (why oh why didn't the U.S. convert to metric?).  Several times, I went to the bathroom only to find my roommate's container still inside the toilet seat.  

Now we come to taste--which would be food.  Only, don't count on much.  I had checked into the hospital late morning, and--when asked--told staff I didn't need lunch.  BIG MISTAKE.  Supper did not arrive until much later than I expected it.  And by then, my decision to abstain from lunch was working against me.  When supper did arrive, it was a  box lunch.  With a bologna sandwich.  On white bread.  I thought--you have to be kidding.  On a cardiac unit, a high salt, low fiber sandwich.   Oh, yes, along with  applesauce and a pack of Lorna Doone shortbread cookies.  While the remainder of meals improved a tad, I was still mostly hungry.  My roommate even remarked that she had been in another nearby hospital recently, and the food there was much better.  

One more post to go on the fascinating world of hospital care.


Peruby said...

Gross! She left her urine container in the toilet? Ugh!

That meal was atrocious! A baloney sandwich on white bread is something we kids ate in the sixties before all the information became available as to how bad that crap is for you!

What a joke that hospital dietician must be. Where do they get their food from the Government commodities?

I have never been in a hospital that served a baloney sandwich.

Anvilcloud said...

Isn't metrication a subversive, left-wing plot?

Actually, since you guys didn't transition as anticipated, I wish we hadn't bothered either. Well, maybe I don't. Maybe I wish you had seen the light and changed too. :)

NCmountainwoman said...

The hospital in which my husband had surgery had a two-hour "quiet time" every day. The lights were dimmed, visitors were asked not to come and go but could stay in the rooms during that time, and the staff made a special effort not to go into a patient's room unless absolutely necessary. The switchboard would not put calls through to patient rooms. A calm seemed to settle over everything and most patients were able to get some rest.

Ruth said...

Interesting to read your observations and reflections on things which are part of my every day life (from a staff perspective). I have never seen a bologna sandwich in our facility, but the food is not great imo.

KGMom said...

Peruby--in fairness to the roommate--she was hardly ambulatory. It was whichever staff assisted her who didn't get back to remove it.
AC--I think you've hit on the reason why the U.S. didn't convert--too close to going socialist or some such.
NCMW--quiet time. Oh, that sounds lovely.
Ruth--I am glad to hear from you, since I know you work the other side of the equation. I am sure there is much I don't understand.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

It is interestihg that all that high priced medicine in the US does not include "fine meal", no. .not even nutritious meals. The most efficient medical expenditures is in preventive medicine. I think this is particularly week in the US.

I was 5 years old when I last in a hospital. One of my lasting memories was some bad food we were expected to eat.

Perhaps I can slip the hospital and die before having to spend time there.

I hope you medical condition is straightened around.

Have a Merry Christmas and an exciting New Year.

Ginnie said...

I read your post with interest and actually felt very fortunate with the hospital and the rooms and the food, etc. during my recent stay after hip surgery. I used to work in the same hospital and it has really improved from where it was. I actually have no complaints but have been where you were too and it's not fun!

Anonymous said...

I read an article in the paper this week about how some of the hospitals here in NC are changing their cafeteria habits... they've stopped frying things, they lowered the price for turkey burgers, raised the one for hamburgers, added more fresh produce, etc. It never even occurred to me to wonder whether the changes extended to the patients' trays...!

I've heard that it's scary to be at the hospital without an advocate to run interference. The inmates aren't just running the asylum, they've taken over the cafeteria, too, huh?

Anonymous said...

PS. Have you read State of Wonder by Ann Patchett?