In July, I suddenly had to take my wife, The Amazing Karen, to the emergency room. She endured emergency surgery for peritonitis and ended up spending 16 days in hospital before she could be released to my dubious care at home. She’s expected to recover fully. Thanks for asking.
What I want to share with you in this blog is some hard-won knowledge I acquired during that experience. Here are nine things I wish I had known before heading out to the vast, modern hospital. Someday, this knowledge might help you.
Pack a sweater, even during the hottest days of summer. There are many spaces in the hospital that are arctic cold—a real test of your character. If you end up in one of them without a parka, you may find that you need to be hospitalized for frost bite.
Take a cable so you can charge your phone. You don’t think you will be there that long, but you are wrong. Without your phone, you are going to be cut off from the real world and deeply isolated.
Take the largest bag you can carry. You’re going to need a duffle bag or enormous tote. I’ve studied this with care and it became obvious that, at the hospital, the smartest people had the biggest bags. Geniuses had two giant bags.
Put some snacks in your pocket. Anything you can eat without utensils. You are not always going to be free to scamper to the cafeteria and the cafeteria will be closed in the middle of the night.
Take your own daily medications—whatever you take each day at home. You may not have a chance to get home for a while.
Take some diversions…like ear buds, reading materials, sketchbook, puzzles, or games.
Take a pencil and some paper to write on. People are going to say things you want to remember but your memory will be on the fritz.
Pack a real pillow. It’s much better than using your shoes as a pillow.
Try to make people on the elevator laugh. These somber-looking strangers are probably there to visit some ailing family member. They are tense and may be filled with despair. They need a laugh. We’re all just mortals being mauled by Fate—that’s especially obvious at any hospital. Brighten their day. They will probably welcome even your most feeble jest with warmth and gratitude. Say something funny about the cost of the parking garage. That seems to work.
I wish I had tip number 10, but I’m worn out. Gotta go.
Pittsburgh, August 6, 2018