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"Shorts, Outtakes and Rants"

Most weeks I write a column for my paper; occasionally my daughter writes one. Usually they're focused at local issues, but every now and then I come up with one that I think Spearfish Lake Tales readers would find interesting, so I post them on the Spearfish Lake Tales Message Board. Since I've been neglecting "Shorts, Outtakes and Rants" recently, I decided to repost a few of them here, like this one. I hope you enjoy it! -- Wes

Hospital Blues

September 20, 2013

I had a bout in the hospital earlier this week. I don't think it's appropriate to get into the gory details, but suffice to say there's a good reason why I don't care to have much to do with hospitals. Fortunately, I've been able to avoid it happening very often but I fear that as I grow older I may not be able to avoid it as much as I have in the past.

One of my favorite expressions is "it doesn't have to make sense." I find that especially true about hospitals. They are, and probably correctly, slaves to procedure and all the paperwork being in the proper place. Whether any common sense is involved can be hard to discern from the patient viewpoint.

For example, I found it hard to turn over in a hospital bed. It's not easy at home, either, and sometimes it's easier to just get up and turn around than it is to thrash around and wake up my wife. Honestly, I do it without waking up very much. So, one morning, I was in the process of turning over when I was shaken awake by a passing nurse's aide. "Are you all right?" she asked.

I told her I was fine. "Great," she said. "Now that you're awake, can I get your weight?"

Two-thirty in the morning and she was wandering the halls looking for someone to weigh! It turns out that it's hospital protocol to weigh people between two and six in the morning. So much for sleeping in. For that matter, so much for sleeping, period. I never did get back to sleep that night.

Ah, weight. Hospitals, weight and me have a long but convoluted history. During my previous hospital stay, four years ago, I lost twenty-five pounds in a week. That was the bad news -- the good news was that I managed to keep it off.

I didn't do that well this time. One day, in which I had eaten very little between weighing, I managed to gain three pounds, which had to be from the way they were pushing the IV fluids at me. I have over the years heard women griping about water weight. I know what they're talking about now!

Hospital food is certainly an excuse for losing weight. Now, it's no big secret that I'm diabetic and have been for many years. The problem is that as soon as you show up in a hospital and the word "diabetic" gets involved they automatically put you on a no-sugar, no-salt, no-flavor, no-fat, no-calorie, no-cholesterol, no-taste diet. For example, one morning I had "French toast" on the menu. What I got was two slices of bread, with no evidence of egg, or no evidence of toasting, either.

One noon the menu said "homemade macaroni and cheese." To be honest, I would give it about a two on a scale of one to ten. Now, that's actually better than it sounds since I wouldn't give any macaroni and cheese more than about a four.

To be honest, I was served a couple of meals I would have to say were pretty decent. One, for instance, was Swedish meatballs, which would have tasted pretty good had there been even a little bit of salt available. Mental note: the next time I have to go into a hospital, smuggle in a salt shaker.

Since this stay in the hospital was totally unplanned, there were other things I would have liked to have with me, but didn't. I was lost without a computer available, which was especially irritating considering how computerized hospitals have become. The only thing that saved my sanity was that I managed to remember to ask Amanda to charge up my Kindle e-book reader and send it in, and thank goodness there were a couple books on it that I had been meaning to getting around to reading, but hadn't. The alternative would have been daytime TV, and I don't think I need to say any more about that.

However, despite everything, I mostly had a good bunch of nurses and other staff members. They seemed dedicated and professional, and were mostly people I would like to have met under somewhat different circumstances.

Sooner or later I will probably have to be in a hospital again. I hope I learned something from this time.

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