This past week, I found myself spending an uncomfortable amount of time lying in a stark hospital bed with the scratchy sheets pulled up to my nose. Every hour or so a nurse would pop in to check my vitals or draw blood. I would reluctantly thrust out my already bruised arm to be poked and prodded once more. By the time I left that horrible place, my forearms resembled that of a heroin addict and my lack of showers left me smelling like a men’s locker room after a friendly company baseball game.
Like all of my experiences, they tend to trigger some semi-unusual line of thinking that seeps its way into this weekly column. On this week’s episode of Molly’s stream of consciousness writing: why do hospitals suck?
First, why on earth does everything take so long? Simply asking for a cup of water to take my daily pain medication would take what felt like half an hour. I’m convinced that waiting around for your doctor to find their way into your room contributes more suffering to the overall net suffering than any pain you experience. Even if you’re admitted to the hospital with some sense of urgency, like I was, the staff still seems to mosey around the hospital. I don’t doubt that they’re busy and have plenty of other patients, but come on, does it really take an hour to get me a new hospital gown and socks?
For example, the nurses had some serious trouble finding a vein for my IV. I had probably four or five nurses all attempt to find working veins before they resulted in reusing a vein that had been previously used for a blood draw not long before. I don’t have enough knowledge about the medical field to know exactly what happened, but I think my vein died halfway through the IV. My arm swelled up to about the size of a softball and the IV started to burn. I called my nurse back into the room and she gave me an ice pack and removed the tube connecting the antibiotic to the IV, leaving me alone at 4 a.m. with a swollen arm and the IV still in my arm. An hour or so passed before another nurse came into the room and removed the bogus IV which finally gave my arm some relief.
This might have just been a personal problem, but for the 48 hours or so that I was in the hospital, I wasn’t allowed to shower. I could wash my face and brush my teeth, but not without the help of a nurse which, as you can probably guess, took forever to get ahold of so they could help me. Not only is sitting in the hospital incredibly uncomfortable and painful, I also felt physically disgusting. My hair was piled into a greasy bun on the top of my head and I could actively feel the rats nest forming on the back of my head from my pillow. As soon as I was released, I ran right for the shower and spent almost half an hour scrubbing the lingering smell of rubbing alcohol off of my body.
I can’t complain about my trip to the hospital without mentioning the excellent care that I did receive. I left the hospital the day after my surgery with enough supplies for my recovery to last about a month. I’m no longer in any pain and am well on my way to recovery.