Is this a real hospital?

Last updated 13:34 28/05/2013

Apologies, blog-followers, for the the decided lack of posts last week. While I'd love to say that the lack of output was because I won Big Wednesday and temporarily lost the ability to type because I was so busy rubbing my hands together with glee (yes, Preciousss), the truth is rather less glamorous.

Unfortunately I had a bit of a medical emergency last Wednesday and had to go to the hospital. I hasten to add that I am quite well now and wasn't suffering from anything life-threatening, but it was all a bit more dramatic than repeats of Road Madness, blogging, and whatever else I might have had planned that night. Many's the time I've remarked that Wednesday nights are a bit lacking in the excitement department. I doubt I shall be doing that in future.

Anyway, so after presenting myself at the Emergency Department waiting room, the Silver Fox and I were taken through to the actual bit where they see patients. By the way, I recommend becoming seriously ill or undertaking potentially injuring-causing activities at about 6.30pm on a Wednesday. The waiting room was essentially empty. Given that when in a hospital my natural inclination is to compare everything to what I've seen on 14 years of ER episodes, this would be the first of many deviations that reality would be making from televised medical drama.

Real hospital vs imaginary hospital

Gowns - In this respect TV and reality match perfectly. The Silver Fox "helped" me get into a hospital gown but even with the benefit of being able to see what he was doing, he somehow couldn't make it work properly and yea, was I left with a very "al fresco" bum area so I could show off my...

Hospital knickers - On TV I've only seen reference to undies made of paper. This seems a highly unsuitable material for underwear (wouldn't you crinkle rather a lot?) and it seems that the Canterbury District Health Board agrees with me. Instead you get these weirdly see-through super stretchy white mesh things. They kind of look like the sort of thing you would strain jam through, not that I'd recommend that.

Strong words, softly spoken - My entire time at the hospital last week (probably about 20 hours altogether) I never heard anyone yell anything (well, apart from that one baby, but they do that sort of thing). In fact, every medical professional I interacted with spoke reasonably softly. My memory of ER is that it was always very shouty, to the degree that Brian Blessed would probably fit in beautifully. I don't know, maybe they save the shouty for when stuff goes really, really wrong.

Incomprehensible jargon - I'm sure this happens in every industry and work environment. I know it happens in mine. I have a good grasp of the English language but I kept having to ask nurses and doctors to clarify what they meant as invariably they'd drop some term or word that I couldn't understand in the context. Someone asked me if I had a line in, and I didn't know what they meant. If only they'd said "did a nurse just shove a whopping great needle in your arm and leave a weird bit of plastic tubing sticking out of you?" then I would have understood perfectly. Later on a nurse told me she was just going to "flush" my "lure", which as far as I knew could have involved any of a number of body parts and varying degress of discomfort. Turns out it was my IV line again and I never felt a thing. Phew.

Food, or something like it - When it comes to food, airlines and hospitals are the cliched example of the worst you can get. Personally, I've never minded airline food but my first (and subsequent) experience with hospital food makes me not want to never have it again. I'm going to assume that anything that tastes that bland simply must be packed to the gunwales with nutrients.

The view from a gurney - Speaking of cliches, it's not uncommon in medical dramas for a patient's point of view to be represented by ceiling tiles and light fittings scrolling swiftly from the top of the screen to the bottom. This is pretty much exactly what you see if you are being wheeled headfirst down a corridor on a bed with wheels and handrails that appear seemingly out of nowhere. The only point of interest is that you get a really good view of the inner workings of the elevator as you head through the door (lying down you get a really good look up between the lift car and the lift shaft) and the signs for various departments that you pass by on your way. I was especially intrigued by one that read "Medical Illustrations" as it allowed me to imagine artists with pencils hunched over sketchbooks drawing cross-sections of hearts, or pictures of lungs or skeletons, presumably for inclusion in handy pamphlets like "Your pancreas and you" or "What to do if you've injured your coccyx".

So that's my recent hospital experience in a nutshell. I want to reiterate that I am hail and hearty this week, so no need to worry, but I do wonder if anyone else expects hospitals to be like they are on TV. How does your own hospital experience compare with either the above, or with an episode of ER?

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