In the fleeting moments of lucidity between my fitful sleeping, my terrifying shortness of breath and my moaning in pain, I have thought about a few of the odd things that accompany a stay in a hospital. I am here because my left foot decided that six months was not quite enough time spent ruining my life, so it got itself infected and now I’m laid up in the hospital for hopefully only a week, though I’ll be out of commission for a few more after that. (Thanks to this injury from the nether-regions of hell, it will be years before I can bring myself to finish watching all of Daniel Day-Lewis’s greatest performances.)
Here are some things I wonder about while lying upon my aching back in my unforgiving hospital bed:
1) Why can I never see the IV or pain medication flow through the tube?
Seriously, I see a bubble every now and then, and I see it drip consistently, but there is no flow going on that I can observe. Is this some sort of placebo? And why is almost all the medicine always clear? Am I just supposed to assume there’s something in there?
2) Why don’t doctor’s do something in the way of preserving your appetite when administering medication?
I’ve been in pretty bad shape, but some of the worst pain has been the result of an empty stomach. However, any time I look at food, I get nauseous. That, or I eat two bites and realize I would have been better off getting nauseous.
3) What is the point of the backless gown?
Am I going to a hospital ball later – is someone going to twirl me in? Why can’t this thing button? And why can’t it button in the front? It’s bad enough I have to shift it around or have my wife redress me when they switch IV tubes. Has there been no new advancement in hospital apparel?
4) Why do the six different nurses on shift consistently take better care of me than the doctors?
I don’t want to insult the hardworking docs here, but I’m still not even sure who my doctor was, or my surgeon. I was anesthetized when I met him/her. Here’s to the nurses, who have to put up with my hourly whining and hyperventilations. It’s not that I only want to deal with doctor’s – I think nurses really do shoulder the bulk of the work. But I would like to see my doctor for longer than two minutes, which was how long two of them were in here this morning, discussing the condition of my foot amongst themselves; then they quickly shook my hand and left. I’m not sure they remembered me until they saw my chart this morning.
5) Haven’t we come a lot farther in medical care than playing the “wait and see” approach?
I understand in the States, with its messy med-care system, hospitals cycle you in and out as fast as they can. But, here in Germany, they take their time, and a lot of that time is spent waiting around to see if a treatment works. This waiting would be understandable if it was a period of twelve hours, or perhaps a day. But I’ve got a tube in my foot sucking out whatever poisonous gunk is in there, and its been doing its thing for three days now, and, apparently, they’re going to change it out tomorrow so it can do it for four days more. I understand that instant gratification is rarely best, but isn’t there a way to treat my infection that at least allows for me to be mobile inside of a week? Perhaps a portable gunk-sucker-outer that I could wheel around with me in a chair?
All told, it has been quite the experience. Something I thought would require an overnight stay has branched into a week. I can only hope it doesn’t extend longer. I suppose it could be worse. Who knows? They may come in later this afternoon and realize there’s nothing entering my IV tube at all, so then I’ll be back to square one.