Hospitals are never fun. Even when you’re there to have a baby you can’t think of anything but getting the Hell out of Dodge. Nurses and doctors are constantly poking you with small, medieval torture devices, asking you loudly about your bowel movements, and coming in and out of your room at all hours of the night – making sleep impossible. Following these general rules my hospital stay did not disappoint. Here’s a recap of my first day there:
I love people watching – I find it fascinating. How they interact with the ones they’re with, how they interact with strangers, it never ceases to amaze me how many different characters are out there. Luckily for me, I had plenty of entertainment in the waiting room where I sat for hours while the staff searched for a bed for me. An older couple was sitting next to me (I’ll call them Joe and Eileen) and were making small talk with each other to pass the time. Suddenly, in walked Trevor (another made up name, I tend to do this a lot) with his hair tied in a messy ponytail and his pants below his ass. A typical look for some of today’s youth, but one that nevertheless seems to evoke feelings of rage in people with any sense. After a few minutes Trevor left the room and Joe loudly exclaimed “It looks like he made a doody in his pants! How does he even walk like that? ” Eileen looked amused but slightly embarrassed, the rest of the room smiled to themselves while nodding their head in approval. Encouraged by the sympathizers in the room, Joe continued “He looks so stupid! Why would you wear your pants so low that you have to walk around like you crapped yourself?” At this point I burst out laughing. Satisfied that he had made his point, Joe finally listened to Eileen’s shushing and quieted down. It was a simple exchange but one that brought a smile to my face and helped me take my mind off of the pandemonium of the last few days. Thank you Joe for speaking your mind!
After finally locating a bed for me (this was a VERY long process, one that had people fighting not two feet away from me about who’s responsibility I was, I guess they thought they embolism made me deaf) I settled into my room. Luckily for me it came fully equipped with a walker (not meant for me, just being stored there), a TV that didn’t work, an IV machine that beeped constantly, and a window overlooking the construction yard. I was all set! The day’s events had worn on me and, after feeling too nauseous to eat the meal they brought me (I’ll get to the hospital food later), I settled in for what I hoped to be a good night’s sleep.
No such luck. As soon as my head hit what was being marketed as a pillow I realized I had forgotten how non-existent hospital bed linen could be. Let me preface this by mentioning that, while I do enjoy my creature comforts, I am by no means a snob about it. I’ve stayed in shitty motels, slept on floors at parties, camped in the mountains, etc.. so I am not a stranger to discomfort. But this pillow was not a pillow. It was a sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper with a pillow case wrapped around it. Had there been a pen handy I would have pulled the it out of the case and written my grocery list on it. This was STRIKE ONE against having a good night’s sleep.
Beeping – constant fucking beeping – is an ADHDers nightmare. I don’t know why, but any repetitive noise makes me want to strangle someone (strange then, that I fell into the House music scene. Maybe the mind-altering substances made me more tolerant). The hospital itself beeped incessantly. My IV machine, my roommate’s IV machine, other patients’ heart monitors, anything that could beep decided to do so all night long. STRIKE TWO.
And finally, the pain. Oh God, the pain. Every time I took a breath it felt like someone was stabbing me in the ribs with a thousand dull knives. No one seemed concerned about this but me, and the regular-strength Tylenol I was given shrank in terror from the pain it was confronted with. All of this was complicated by the fact that I couldn’t move my leg because even a slight shift in position would cause a mind-numbing ache that made me fantasize about amputation. STRIKE THREE.
Sleep did eventually take me, but it came in short spurts, usually interrupted by a nurse checking on me or my roommate. I was slightly amused at one point when one of the hospital staff shined a light in my face, presumably to see if I was still alive. I smiled to myself when the light was gone because I used to do this to my son. (I was a crazy first-time mother terrified at the idea of crib-death. My son weighed less then 5 lbs. and so it was impossible to tell if he was breathing. After accidentally waking him a few nights in a row while checking his vital signs, I discovered that if I shined a light in his face he would squint, but continue sleeping. I used this tactic for at least 4 months! The poor child will probably have an incredibly strange association with strobe lights. Hopefully they don’t bring on a craving for breast milk!) I was glad to see that I wasn’t the only one brilliant enough to come up with the flashlight trick. Thank you Karma, for showing me what a pain in the ass I was!
Day One finally rolled into Day Two, where a whole new level of boredom helped me make some unexpected friends. I’ll introduce you to them in my next post.