Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Smell of Hand Sanitizer and Overcooked Carrots

With the birth of my new nephew, and my Dad's spectacular knee injury, I have been spending more time in hospitals than usual as of late. In case you didn't know, hospitals suck. Yes, yes, the ones built in the past 14 years are more spacious, with light streaming through windows, and cafeterias meant to imitate farmer's markets and fancy restaurants, however, all of that doesn't make up for the fact that you are in a place dedicated to pain and suffering. It's like dressing up a pig. You may get her into the dress, but that doesn't mean you'll be taking her to prom. I mean, unless you live in certain parts of Utah, and then it's a requirement for 4-H. But I digress. It's time for this week's list o' five...

Five Things That Make Hospitals Miserable

1. The Smells There is always something unpleasant to smell in a hospital. Simply walking down a hallway exposes one to a cacophony of olfactory disturbances. Urine is always a constant undertone, though definitely not the worst smell there. That would have to be a tie between infection and unwashed sick people -- and both of those smells are present in a big way. Of course, all of it is topped off with notes of the hand sanitizer that is available on every wall and in every room that is constantly being slathered on by everyone in the building. Oh, expect at the hospital where my Dad was staying, where half of the sanitizer dispensers seemed to be empty. Yet, the smell lingered.

2. The Germs I am not a big germ freak. In fact, I believe that anti-bacterial soaps are responsible for making kids weaker, and are most likely a plot by aliens to make us more vulnerable for attacks. However, even I felt like taking a full body Clorox shower after leaving the hospital. The fact that my Dad's room was near the "monkeys with infectious diseases we can't identify" wing didn't help either.

3. The Nurses Now, I am sure there are some wonderful nurses out there. I know some, and both my Dad and my Sister in Law said they were taken care of by very competent and caring health care professionals. However, they must have all been on their lunch breaks when I was visiting. One of my biggest complaints was that a nurse could never be found, unless you didn't want them there. The minute that my Dad fell asleep, or my Sister in Law had visitors the nurse would come in to check blood levels, or give pain medications, or ask about bowel movements. Yes, they have jobs to do, but really, why do the embarrassing questions need to be asked before a live audience? Of course, if we needed a nurse because my Dad was in pain, or the baby's mouth was turning blue, one had to be sought out, and when found usually replied to the request for help with a curt "I was just about to come in." I would probably be just as rude in a similar situation, but that's why I chose a career where I don't really have to deal with people, especially needy ones.

4. The Food Hospital food is the brunt of as many jokes as airline food. There is a reason for that. Every meal I saw was among the least appetizing things I have ever seen. And I think they purposely leave them in the warming carts for as long as possible, so that the gravy has time to solidify (gravy is on everything) and the pudding has time to liquefy. I kept offering to bring in real food, and my Sister in Law took me up on it, but my Dad actually ate the meals. I think he saw it as some kind of penance, though for what I have no idea.

5. The Fear of Ass Exposure Hospital gowns are now more modest and wrap all the way around a patient. However, that doesn't mean there aren't bits and pieces still hanging out all over. They can (and do) get scrunched up, leaving the hapless patient exposed for all the world to see. I saw more old man ass in the past three days than any person should ever have to see in a lifetime. I mean, unless they photograph old men's asses for a living. But that's a very specialized industry.

You know what would make hospitals more bearable? A bar. It would relieve stress, give family members a place to gather, and would be a cash cow for research funds. Yes, there would be the risk of doctors drinking on the job, but if pilots can do it, why can't they? And think of the funny name possibilities! The Laboratory. The Pharmacy. The Blood Bank. I really think this is an idea that could catch on. After all, the smell of pina coladas can cover a multitude of sins.


L@pterces said...

One of my jobs in my early college days was to deliver flowers for a local florist. I visited several hospitals daily. It wasn't so bad when I could leave the flower arrangements with the little old lady volunteers at the front desk to take to the rooms, but all too often I had to take them to the rooms of strangers myself. I've seen many interesting and/or prominent people in various states of undress and smelled far too much hand sanitizer!