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Short Term Stay


Most people do not look forward to staying in hospital for any length of time and a lot of people do not even like going to see doctors, but from time to time it is a necessary thing that many people go through.  If you have never been to a hospital for any length of time you might think that it is pretty standard that you would have a hospital bed and room and all of the rest of that kind of stuff.  However, for the most part, if you are just staying in the hospital for a very short term then hospital beds may not be a part of your visit.  However, provided that you have all of your relevant information in order including any insurance documents that may or may not be required then hospitals need not be a source of anxiety for you and the nurses are for the most part pretty nice as well.


There was one time when I had to have my appendix out and I was only in the hospital for a couple of days which was not so bad.  I think the only time that I actually talked to the doctor was right after I had been admitted from the emergency room.  As I am sure you can guess, having an inflamed appendix can be really painful and so I was not overly worried when they told me that it would have to be removed.  After the operation I was told that I would have a short term stay in the hospital and when I woke up one of the first people that I saw was the nurse.  There were a number of nurses that I talked to over the two days I was there and they were all nice for the most part but one of them, who was a bit older and worked later in the evening, was not very good at adjusting the intravenous drip needle that was in my hand and it hurt a lot when she did that.  I think she thought I shouldn’t have complained, but when you are sitting in a hospital bed for some reason you get the feeling that you are supposed to just tell them these things.


It was during this short term stay in a hospital that I was also able to have my first taste of hospital food.  It was not that good, which was not really all that surprising to me, but at the same time it was not really as bad as I was expecting.  I had soup and an apple and some other stuff.  However, that was only after I had recovered enough from the appendectomy in order to be able to eat solid foods again.  One of the weird parts about being in a hospital, at least for someone who rarely frequents them, is the way it makes you feel as though they kind of own your body for a time.  When you are in there since you obviously can not just heal yourself you have to put your self in their hands and as such you end up thinking to yourself, well, I will just let them do whatever it is that is necessary in order to solve this problem.  It is not necessarily the most liberating experience to have to be operated upon, but is part and parcel with the everyday and really somewhat mundane experience of being in a hospital.


If it is not too off topic, another short term hospital stay that I think is worth mentioning and is one that we are all very familiar with.  This would be the virtual stay in the many hospitals that are shown on television medical dramas all over the United States.  I think in some weird way as a result of seeing the hospital on television that it becomes almost an unreal place.  This feels very much in keeping with the disembodied sense I was talking about before – that you are not the owner of your body in a hospital.  It is like the virtual sense of unreality that comes with encountering the real version of a thing that you only really ever see on the television.  I think it is also possible that as a result of the mediated nature, quite literally mediated through media, some aspects of human health, suffering and our relation to death are if not trivialized at least altered in the way we perhaps might have thought of them up until that point.


When I was in the waiting room, one of the more surreal moments was that there were televisions in there for people to watch while they waited for their turn to see a physician.  Sitting in the emergency room, I kid you not, on the television there was the show E.R. (of course standing for emergency room), but the sound was off.  The sound of the real emergency room that replaced the sound of the fake emergency room was much less dramatic.  Maybe from the doctor’s perspective it is way more like the television show, but from my perspective I was starting to think that a television show about just sitting in a waiting room would be pretty boring.  Then again, there have been shows where they do play on this sort of thing.  For example, there was one episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry David moves from one waiting room to another room where he has to wait again for the doctor.  This kind of constant waiting is something that I think adds a weird quality to going to the hospital: everything is urgent, but everything takes so very long at times.  Regardless, ever since my first short term stay in a hospital I think that I have a generally favourable impression of hospitals.  This might also be because I have never had to visit someone who is really ill in a hospital, except sometimes on television where the camera is right in the room and someone is dying or really sick.  I wonder if it would be as dramatic in real life?