They just don’t get it.
Hospitals are very strange places. They are supposed to be set up to accommodate people who are in pain, immobile, handicapped and not in the best of heath. The elevators are all hung with signs proudly proclaiming their mission. The walls are adorned with pictures of happy, healthy ex-patients. But somehow they always manage to miss the boat.
My friend who is ill was admitted to the emergency room of one of the premier cancer hospitals in the nation. We arrived at 11am and she was not admitted to her room till after 7pm , giving us 8 hours to observe the wheels turning, creaking and frequently stalling.
To set the stage – she has a broken leg, a broken arm and her other arm is very weak and her hand has no strength due to complications from a cancerous tumor. She’s not exactly an ideal candidate for the Susan Koman Race for the Cure.
They plop her a room, drape one of those gowns over her clothing , hook her up to an IV with multiple tubes and then hand her a specimen cup and point her toward the bathroom.
The cup has a lid, she’s tethered to an IV and has extra layers of clothing to contend with.
We decide modesty be dammed and I go in to help her. We get the gown tangled in the IV tubes, I who have 2 good hands can’t get the cap off the wretched cup and there is no pee forthcoming. Time for the old camp trick of sticking your hand into warm water. It works. We break into gales of laughter and make so much noise we alarm the staff. I guess they don’t hear many hysterical giggling fits.
That taken care of she gets back into bed and tries to nap and I read. Hours crawl by. Dinner time arrives. Dinner, which is delivered consists of a turkey wrap, a carton of juice and a bag of baked chips, everything wrapped and sealed in plastic containers. And just how is she supposed to open it, much less eat it? I’d pilfered a couple of straws from the cafeteria so the juice is manageable. I chop the wrap into pieces with the oh so helpful (also hermetically sealed in cellophane) plastic knife and we manage somehow.
Half way through dinner the phone rings. It’s on a table, against the wall, a good 5 feet from the bed. Not only can she not answer it, but I can barely stretch the cord far enough so she can talk. It’s transportation. They will be “right down” to take her to her room. “Right Down” is hospital speak for 2 hours.
Helping someone who is coping with cancer is definitely a reality check in just how inaccessible many “handicapped” facilities really are.
And that no matter how grim it gets there is always something to laugh about.
Even if it’s just a urine specimen cup.