Hell and hilarity in the hospital (part one)

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

I have a newfound respect for anyone who works with the sick and infirmed. I can think of about three hundred careers that I would choose before going into the medical field. First of all, sick people are no fun. They bleed and stink and moan and exhibit other objectionable behaviors.

Plus, I hate it when people suffer, especially children. My hair was falling out like needles off the Christmas tree that you finally drag out of the house on Easter. (Yes, I’ve done that.) I looked like an emaciated mangy dog that was no one’s favorite pet. But when I see a six-year-old, skinny and bald from chemo, I’m toast. I’ve lived plenty of years with very little pain, so I figure it’s sort of my turn. But sick kids have hardly left the starting blocks and they’re already limping around the track. Not cool. When there’s a sick child within range I have to go to my mental happy place lest I just lose it. Could somebody please give me the address of the “Commission on Fairness.” I want to file a report!

Anyway, I appreciate health care people for their compassion and tenacity with infirmed people of all ages.

That’s not to say that these precious souls in the medical field never make mistakes. For instance, I was to have an invasive and quite uncomfortable procedure that required fasting the day before, arriving at the hospital before the sun rose, donning the dreaded faded backless hospital gown, attaching to an IV drip of something I couldn’t pronounce, and being wheeled up on my gurney to the third floor for the damage to be done. (Damage was not the word they used. It’s mine.)

The chatty orderly, who drove as fast as he talked, delivered me – albeit windblown – to the appropriate ward and parked me in the hallway while he disappeared into a room labeled, “Outpatient Surgery.” I was waiting out there with no one to talk to but my IV pole, for what seemed like long enough for him to have snuck out the back door for breakfast – and lunch. Admittedly, I was feeling a little cantankerous from the fasting and the nervous energy of anticipating the poking, pricking, and injecting that were on the agenda for the day. Plus, the cold hallway was not the most accommodating of places to be parallel parked in my paper-thin gown – butt bared.

Finally, chatty gurney-driver-guy returned, leaned over me and said, “Mr. Wiget, I’m sorry but the doctor is off today. You’ll have to come back again tomorrow.” Was this chemo brain? I asked him to repeat what he’d said, which he did during the break-neck-drive back through the halls and down to the first floor to unhook me from the chemicals on wheels, tape up the new piercings in my arm, allowed me to shed my flimsy gown, and bid me farewell till the morrow. Jay, my ride home that day, asked me how it went. “I think the doctor was on the golf course and couldn’t be disturbed.” Jay assumed I was still tripping from the pain medication.

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