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Paulclem

Getting to know the hospital.

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I recently had reason to spend quite a bit of time at the hospital Ė though not for myself. Iíve always disliked them on the grounds that they mean someone is in pain and is suffering, such as my wife when she was having the kids, and the elderly relatives and parents when they were ill and dying. This is still true, and was true this time, but Iíve come to see it in a somewhat different shade as well.

My wife loves the hospital, as she sees it as a place of healing and helping. She is a staff nurse, though she hasnít worked as such for a while. Itís not a place I previously would have liked to be. Iím not the squeamish type; the operations on TV that my wife likes to watch, with all the uplifting commentary and true life stories, donít bother me and just donít interest me much. I have the same attitude to them as I do the hospital: only watch or be there when you really have to.

Yet recently I had to get to know the hospital a bit more. I had a few rides in ambulances to accompany someone, and went visiting the wards. I had to fit into the bewildering routine and watch as the hospital staff did their stuff. Gradually it all became, over a few months, a more or less every other daily experience. The hospital certainly is a place of healing for many, and the staff generally do a good job, much much more than just a good job in some cases.

I now have more confidence in the staff than I previously did, and Iíve come round more to my wifeís view of hospitals. Thatís not the point Iím making though. Weíve got to get to know them. That bewilderment that people experience on being taken into hospital, and the fear they will experience can be mitigated by a bit of insight. Iím not advocating hospital tourism, which is rather a morbid idea, but taking the opportunity to visit when necessary and getting to know the place a bit. Weíve got to get to know them for ourselves, and to be better prepared for others around us. Well, you know, weíll all be going there sometime.
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  1. Vonny's Avatar
    My mother developed atrial fibrillation (a fast and irregular heartbeat) last summer and I spent so much time at the hospital that it seems my second home. It was a great comfort to have her there, being monitored, rather than at home where I would have been on my own with her. Without the treatment she received she would be dead now, or in a condition worse than death, so I am very grateful. Her cardiologist is a man who, just by envisioning his face, I can feel more peaceful, because he is so dedicated and conscientious. Her other doc, the "primary care" doctor, posed some opposition by discouraging some of the treatments that the cardiologist felt were necessary to save my mom's life. The primary care doctor is no doubt in league with the insurance company to cut costs. During my mom's stay in the hospital, I stayed as much as possible to assist in helping my mom to the bathroom and helping with as many tasks as I could in an effort to relieve the nurses, because the hospital is extremely short staffed. (And I live in a prosperous, developed community.)

    One of the greatest fears of going to the hospital is that you can quite literally catch something much worse than you went in with, especially if you undergo surgery. I had major surgery a few years ago, and my surgeon released me ahead of schedule because, she said, I was doing well and in her words: "Being in here, you could leave with something worse than you came in with." We now have many strains of staff infection, such as MRSA, that are virtually antibiotic resistant.

    Another fear people have of going to the hospital is of that bill that will be coming in the mail. A few years ago, when I was without medical insurance for a time, I had an adverse reaction to a medication that was so severe (for a few hours) I thought I was going to die! I remember that all I could think was, "I'm going to die but I'm not going to the hospital because I'd rather be dead than bankrupt!"

    I now have health insurance, as do all of my family members except for one brother, so I'm very grateful. One thing I came away with, after last summer, is the importance of keeping as healthy as possible: Eat well, exercise, reduce stress, get plenty of sleep, stay slim. Try to avoid the hospital, as well as the entire medical community, if at all possible. Much of what our "big pharma" is up to, is to make people sicker with antidepressant medication, and so forth, that contribute to obesity and diabetes, etc.

    Another thing is that, if I get cancer, they can keep the chemo - just remove the tumor and I'll pray for the best. If I have a major stroke, please, no resuscitation. Sometimes it's okay and natural to simply die. But last month I had a terrible sinus infection, and boy, was I thankful that I could go to the doctor. So many people who work hard and contribute to society can not afford to go to the doctor for antibiotic and a good cough syrup when they are sick.
  2. The Comedian's Avatar
    Beautiful blog, Paul. I love reading about people's little journeys -- emotional, spiritual, or physical -- and this one was a confluence of the three.

    I can personally relate to it also: like you my wife works in the medical field, in a hospital. And watches cheesy hospital dramas. Like you, I'd rather avoid those places and programs entirely.

    Maybe someday, I'll grow to into a greater comfort level with those places.
    Updated 04-15-2011 at 08:52 PM by The Comedian
  3. Paulclem's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Vonny
    My mother developed atrial fibrillation (a fast and irregular heartbeat) last summer and I spent so much time at the hospital that it seems my second home. It was a great comfort to have her there, being monitored, rather than at home where I would have been on my own with her. Without the treatment she received she would be dead now, or in a condition worse than death, so I am very grateful. Her cardiologist is a man who, just by envisioning his face, I can feel more peaceful, because he is so dedicated and conscientious. Her other doc, the "primary care" doctor, posed some opposition by discouraging some of the treatments that the cardiologist felt were necessary to save my mom's life. The primary care doctor is no doubt in league with the insurance company to cut costs. During my mom's stay in the hospital, I stayed as much as possible to assist in helping my mom to the bathroom and helping with as many tasks as I could in an effort to relieve the nurses, because the hospital is extremely short staffed. (And I live in a prosperous, developed community.)

    One of the greatest fears of going to the hospital is that you can quite literally catch something much worse than you went in with, especially if you undergo surgery. I had major surgery a few years ago, and my surgeon released me ahead of schedule because, she said, I was doing well and in her words: "Being in here, you could leave with something worse than you came in with." We now have many strains of staff infection, such as MRSA, that are virtually antibiotic resistant.

    Another fear people have of going to the hospital is of that bill that will be coming in the mail. A few years ago, when I was without medical insurance for a time, I had an adverse reaction to a medication that was so severe (for a few hours) I thought I was going to die! I remember that all I could think was, "I'm going to die but I'm not going to the hospital because I'd rather be dead than bankrupt!"

    I now have health insurance, as do all of my family members except for one brother, so I'm very grateful. One thing I came away with, after last summer, is the importance of keeping as healthy as possible: Eat well, exercise, reduce stress, get plenty of sleep, stay slim. Try to avoid the hospital, as well as the entire medical community, if at all possible. Much of what our "big pharma" is up to, is to make people sicker with antidepressant medication, and so forth, that contribute to obesity and diabetes, etc.

    Another thing is that, if I get cancer, they can keep the chemo - just remove the tumor and I'll pray for the best. If I have a major stroke, please, no resuscitation. Sometimes it's okay and natural to simply die. But last month I had a terrible sinus infection, and boy, was I thankful that I could go to the doctor. So many people who work hard and contribute to society can not afford to go to the doctor for antibiotic and a good cough syrup when they are sick.
    We're lucky here in the UK that we have free healthcare. I know in the US it has had a bad press due to the cost and- oddly - charges of being a communistic system, but I know if I or any of my family were to fall ill, an ambulance would be here in minutes, and we would get pretty good healthcare free without having to think about insurance. We're lucky.

    I'm glad the treatments turned out well.
  4. Paulclem's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by The Comedian
    Beautiful blog, Paul. I love reading about people little journeys -- emotional, spiritual, or physical -- and this one was a confluence of the three.

    I can personally relate to it also: like you my wife works in the medical field, in a hospital. And watches cheesy hospital dramas. Like you, I'd rather avoid those places and programs entirely.

    Maybe someday, I'll grow to into a greater comfort level with those places.
    Thanks Comedian. I still don't like them, but at least I know the system. I'm ready - all I need to do is buy suitable pyjamas if I ever need to go in. (Hopefully never, but unlikely).
  5. prendrelemick's Avatar
    You make a good point Paul, about Hospitals being places of hope. I had slipped far into the opposite opinion. I had forgotten the day to day sucessful stories that are probably the norm.
  6. JuniperWoolf's Avatar
    I have a loved one who was born with a chronic illness, and he loves hospitals. He spent so much of his childhood in them that he thinks of them as a home of sorts (which I guess is kind of sad). I don't mind them so much. I like that little portable tv on that swingey arm thing. I won't eat their fish sticks, though.
  7. Paulclem's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by prendrelemick
    You make a good point Paul, about Hospitals being places of hope. I had slipped far into the opposite opinion. I had forgotten the day to day sucessful stories that are probably the norm.
    Yes - I suppose we all have uncomfortable memories of them. I certainly do.

    In Wakey, they converted the old workhouse into a hospital. My wife said the old folks were terrified of the place, and would only go if they couldn't resist the need. Talk about foresight.
  8. Paulclem's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by JuniperWoolf
    I have a loved one who was born with a chronic illness, and he loves hospitals. He spent so much of his childhood in them that he thinks of them as a home of sorts (which I guess is kind of sad). I don't mind them so much. I like that little portable tv on that swingey arm thing. I won't eat their fish sticks, though.
    It is sad. I see them as sad too, and I'm trying to change that perspective for my own and others good. It sounds like your loved one has that nailed.

    The TVs in our local are on a swinging arm. You have to buy the time - which is a bit dear, but you can also get internet access. If I'm ever stuck there for a bit, I'll do a blog from the hospital. (I hope I don't get to do that though!)
  9. Buh4Bee's Avatar
    This is a relevant blog entry. I believe this is a point of view rarely shared. I took a hospice training class a few years ago and one theme that continuously emerged was society’s apathy towards death and sickness. The trainers emphasized that people, in general, are uncomfortable with sickness. Unfortunatley, at one point or another, we are going to be at the hospital either as a patient or a support. To take this response to a very basic level, wouldn’t it reduce a level of stress, if one is able to navigate knowledgably around the facility?
  10. Paulclem's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jersea
    This is a relevant blog entry. I believe this is a point of view rarely shared. I took a hospice training class a few years ago and one theme that continuously emerged was societyís apathy towards death and sickness. The trainers emphasized that people, in general, are uncomfortable with sickness. Unfortunatley, at one point or another, we are going to be at the hospital either as a patient or a support. To take this response to a very basic level, wouldnít it reduce a level of stress, if one is able to navigate knowledgably around the facility?
    Thanks Jersea. I think you're right, though it's taken me years to come round to this point of view.
  11. Vonny's Avatar
    A follow-up comment. My mother had to be rushed back to the hospital this past weekend, in the middle of the night, once again with atrial fibrillation. As soon as I was in the emergency room with her, this blog and "Frankenstein's monster" came into my mind. It helped me to go through the experience in a more positive, more peaceful way. I guess that reading this blog and commenting here had helped me to process my reality of "hospital as my second home," so that I was able to accept it better this time. So I want to say thank you. The care she got there was exemplary, and within a few hours they converted her to a normal heart rhythm, so she could go home the next day, rather than being there for days this time. I must say that when she's there, I'm thinking, "Let this be over so I can get out of this place!" (And the food is atrocious.) But, I'm certainly glad they are there when we need them! We're lucky too.
  12. Paulclem's Avatar
    Thanks Vonny. I'm glad it helped, and I'm glad your Mum was ok.