Nov 032007

I was on blogging leave last week. Not my usual no-writing-today-so-fuck-right-off-and-read-someone-who-cares leave — actual medical leave. I was confined to the hospital for more than a week with acute appendicitis. (Fine thanks, but a word of advice: if you must have your appendix out, do so before it ruptures.) Hospitals are interesting places; hang around one for a few days and you start to believe that Foucault had a point after all. I shall have more to say about them presently, but for the moment I will confine myself to a few preliminary observations.

1. If you want to know when you can expect to be released, consult the Wiki, not your doctor. The average stay for acute appendicitis is about a week. Your doctor will never tell you this, lest he sound too much like an algorithm in an expert system, which can probably outdiagnose him anyway. Best to keep your mouth shut, particularly if you are inclined to ask questions like, “Can you give me a range of dates within which you expect, with 0.9 probability, to release me?” Complaining to my doctor about her vagueness provoked a stern and rather terrifying lecture about how medicine is both an art and a science and each individual case is different. As it turned out, because of her art and my individuality, I spent thirteen more hours in the hospital than the average.

2. Pet therapy appears to be medically certified. One morning I was awoken from a fitful sleep by a mangy griffon called Kindu — I read the name from his official hospital ID, and yes, his department is “Pet Therapy” — who is apparently hauled from bed to bed, to be petted serially. The hygienic implications of this program may not bear scrutiny.

3. Catholic hospitals take their religion more seriously than you might imagine. St. Vincent’s has a rather large chapel, although I never saw it occupied. It also employs priests who roam the halls, ostensibly to offer succor. This merely annoys the non-believer; and if I did believe, and were sick in a hospital bed, I wouldn’t be in any special hurry to see one either. One of my roommates’ guests also thoughtfully took time from his busy schedule to try to bring me to Christ. This, however, was not authorized by the hospital.

4. In Deconstructing Harry, Woody Allen asks the prostitute he has hired how she likes her job and receives the usual reply. “It’s funny,” he says, “every hooker I meet says it beats the hell out of waitressing. Waitressing must be the worst job in the world.”

It’s not. Nursing is.

5. Old people spend a really remarkable amount of time discussing “Dancing with the Stars.”

  20 Responses to “Sicko”

  1. I walked into your hospital room just as your pet therapy session was ending, so I beg to differ with your description of the dog. Kindu was a mangy Pug, not Griffon. (Griffons typically have a longer wiry coat, sharper beak, and greater wingspan than the Pug.)

  2. Yikes. Glad you’re up and about, and am looking forward to further remarks upon hospitals. The insane culture of medicine has become something of a quietly nursed bette noire for me over the past year, and I’m always looking for more fuel to add to the fire.

    You’re right about nursing. I never understood how my mother did it.

  3. Ouch. I’m glad you’re doing better now…

  4. Hey, Lisa’s funny. Figured she’d have to have a sense of humor considering her life sentence and all.

    Hope you have cool scars.

  5. Nursing pays way more than waitressing and a money hungry nurse, willing to travel, can make close to prostitute money.

  6. Aaron: You’re lucky they didn’t later dump you on the tile floor and let Kindu have your bed for his regular afternoon nap. As a fund-raiser here at MSU (which has one of the world’s great veterinary medical schools) I find the most fervent adoration for and commitment to any field of study and to the objects of that field to be found among those who love (worship?) dogs, horses, and cats (in that order).

    One of my sisters is a nurse, and she is pretty happy in the profession. One thing she especially likes is that she can go just about anywhere in the world and get a job because of the nursing shortage. On the other hand, why is there a shortage? You might have figured it out.

  7. As long as you have insurance, it’s better than being in a a dirty NHS ward.When I was in hospital in the states, I had a beautiful room, with what they said was its own balcony/terrace, but it looked like an open deck to me.

  8. Glad you’re better.

    And, yeah, could they get those spiritual counsellors out of my face as I try to recover, or die, or whichever? In any case, it’s not what I need!

  9. everything ok Aaron?

  10. If I were a priest I sure as hell would stay far away from an old grump like you! Relax, buddy. No priest has it in for you, I can assure you of this. That’s why they roam the hallway: some folks actually want a priest when they are sick. It’s the Catholic tradition. It’s been around oh so much longer than you! Like Thomas above asks: everything ok Aaron?

  11. Linda,
    I said what I did because I genuinely think he is unwell or has had something bad happen. If so, I’m sad. His opinions were often different from mine and yet so rich in their own history and detail and reasoning that I always found it an educational pleasure to read them.

  12. Hi, Aaron,
    I got here from an ancient (2003!) thread on reading and writing, and checked on your latest post. Much sympathy and empathy on your peritonitis. I’ve been there, too. You’ll get past nearly dying, and your scar will even fade if you aren’t carried off by something else too quickly. As for #4, I completely concur. At least prostitutes get thanked occasionally by their clients, and their pimps might give them a cut.

  13. Acute appendicitis plus peritonitis, and both for a week. In 1951, I had the acutes but no rupture and I still got a week’s imhospitalment. So I guess things are improving.

  14. heh sicko, you’ve really gone flip doodie, but i see ya dahr, chatterboxing away ova dah — whacky , you gotta any ridim in dah, trains? plains, mobiles, tezla boot dooty. pasta, bubble gum, soda pop — get your arse in hear schmegma.

    Heavens. a lullaby.

  15. like the name of the blog

  16. I like the woody allen line about waitressing…You know which job is worser than a waitress? a waiter…the male ones are way below the female ones…Grrr… And about the old people about dancing with the stars…The ones dancing are actually old, if not for the make up and the butox 😛

  17. I just discovered your blog via Megan McArdle’s blogroll. So sorry to see that the latest post is a couple years old. I do love the twitter updates, but some more full length comment would be awesome!

  18. “I just discovered your blog via Megan McArdle’s blogroll.”

    that makes for two of us. I don’t subscribe to the twitter updates but I will now.

  19. Dear Aaron:

    I’m glad to hear you are still alive. You should post something saying that despite the grim tone of your last post in 2007, you didn’t die.


  20. mmm…When I was five years old going on six my appendix ruptured and it took my mom and her new beau a few extra hours to get me to a hospital. The nearest one was run by a family of doctors–a father and several sons. From the moment I came in the front door all doubled over to the time I was in surgery was less than half an hour. 24 shots of penicillan (sp?) and several days later I was awake and several days after that the little boy in the bed next to me was showing me how to race wheelchairs. The hospital was in an old mansion on a vast rolling green lawn that swept down to Lake Erie. It was in a beautiful setting outside of Cleveland in the wealthy part of the area.

    Of course racing wheelchairs down the slope in the floor causes undue stress on metal clamps they used in those days for incisions and two of my clamps came off because the skin was weakened by the gangerine.

    I was lucky. Father and the son who was the pediatrician were off to a conference. The hospital had been left in the hands of a very nice son. The man who saved my life would just a few short years later be accused of murdering his wife, spend 13 years in prison, and come out to try to make his living as a wrestler for tv. Sam Shepard was a great doctor and he smiled and played with us little hot rodders. The Cleveland mob must have really wanted that real estate. Today when I hear Clevelanders complain because they can’t rescue their city as has been done with Pittsburgh, I think to myself. Pay back is a bi..h

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