Hospital Vacation
John Norberg, Humor Columnist s

Think about all the incredible advancements that have taken place in medicine during the past 100 years. Science has probably advanced health care further in the past 100 years than in all record time before.

The question I have is this: With all these accomplishments in medicine, why are we wearing the same hospital gowns our great-grandparents wore in 1900? Why haven't they been improved?

You know what I'm talking about -- the open backend things that slide off your shoulders and can't stay tied.

Friend: "Can I come see you in the hospital today?"

Patient: "Sure, but you'll probably see a lot more of me than you really want."

That was on mind this week as I lay in my guest room in my hospital gown at IU Health Arnett Hospital in Lafayette.

My wife and I made a lot of plans for this summer. Our schedule was packed.

In June we spent three weeks in France. We came home for one day and then drove 11 hours to Delaware last Friday for our grandson's second birthday party. But we forgot to make plans to make use our great healthcare system.

Shortly before the party on Saturday my wife asked how I was feeling.

Me: "Fine."

Wife: "Then why are you lying in ball on the couch shaking with five blankets on top of you?"

Somehow wives can always see through their husbands.

The next day we drove back to Lafayette. My wife did all the driving. I did all the complaining about how horrible I felt.

By the time we reached Lafayette there was some question as to who was in greater need of medical care.

We went to the Arnett Immediate Care Center and were led to a room with an examination table and some chairs. A doctor entered, asked what the problem was and I held up my leg. He asked a few questions. He studied it. Then he said: "This is cellulitis."

Me: "I have cellulite? That fat stuff women are always worrying about when they put on a bathing suit?"

Doctor: "Not cellulite. Cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection."

Doctors are very impressive people. You have to be pretty smart to become a doctor so you can see a guy for the first time at 9 o'clock on a summer Sunday evening and then be able to tell him within seconds what his problem is and what needs to be done about it.

Sure, a man's wife can tell him what his problems are and what he needs to do about them. But she's been studying that for years.

I could almost see this doctor scrolling through thick medical textbooks with small type in his brain, running through the index, "leg," "red," "rash" and coming up with "cellulitis."

I got a shot, some pills and instructions to report to the emergency room the next day if it wasn't better.

On Monday we were in the emergency room and were led a treatment suite. Technicians and nurses entered one by one to ask me questions. The first thing each of them asked was "How are you."

"I'm fine," I said. Or I said, "I'm fine, how are you." "Great!" I told the last person.

When my wife and I were in the room alone she looked at me.

Wife: "Why are you telling these people that you're fine? You're not fine. You're sick. This is the emergency room. When people in the emergency room ask how you feel it's not a rhetorical question like when you meet a buddy on the street. They actually want to know how you feel and you've been telling them you feel fine."

A nurse came in and asked: "How are you?"

Me: "I'm dying," I said.

She took one look at me leg. "No, but you have cellulitis," she said.

She was as smart as the doctor!

The nurse said the physician would be in to see me but that I would be admitted so they could give me antibiotics in an IV. My wife left the room to take care of some things and the nurse continued with a list of questions.

Nurse: "When you get out of the hospital, do you have someone to care for you? Will your wife take you home?"

Me: "Why are you asking me that? Did she say something to you as she left?"

Nurse: "No, we just need to be sure you have a way get home when you're discharged."

Me: "I could have sworn I heard her tell you 'he's your problem now.'"

Nurse: "Do you have a living will?"

Me: "Of course I have a will to live."

Nurse: "No, a living will. If you have no chance for survival, do you want us to let you go or put you on a respirator?"

Cellulitis was sounding worse than I thought.

Everyone at the hospital treated me wonderfully and some of them even remembered the last time I had been there four years before. I was hoping they would have forgotten those unfortunate incidents by now.

We've spent a lot of time arguing about healthcare in recent years and not anytime at all being thankful for the great care we receive and the wonderful people who provide it.

Maybe we need a national Thank A Doc Day. And we should have a Thank a Nurse Day and a Thank a Medical Aide Day. How about a Thank a Healthcare Technician Day, a Medical Receptionist Day, and a Medical Records Keeper Day? Let's have a Thank a Pharmacist Day. And how about a week of thanks for the people who have to fill out the insurance company forms?

These are really well trained dedicated people who maintain a cheery attitude taking care of a bunch of sick people.

I'm going to be fine. I can't speak for my wife, though.

My wife will take me home where I know she will do everything for me until I'm on my feet again.

I love her for doing that.

I'm just wondering how long I can stretch out my recovery before I have to start doing things for myself again.

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