Rabu, 09 April 2008

How to have a good stay in the hospital, or:

How to have a good stay in the hospital, or:


Driving your nurse crazy, in three hundred eighty four thousand, six hundred forty-two easy steps.*

Adopt a lofty tone. Nobody here will remember how important you are. Therefore, it's crucial that you remind them at every possible opportunity. Condescend as often as possible. Refer to your nurse as "The Girl". Refer to every female doctor as "Nurse"--they love that. If you can, work in a shadow of doubt about your nurse's or doctor's competence. Ask repeatedly if they've "ever done this before."

Don't forget to bring your four-page, single-spaced list of demands. Make certain that you've listed all of your drug allergies, even if they're not actually allergies, on the first page in bold type. List all of your previous surgeries on the second page, with editorial comments such as "spent six weeks in hospital--doctor's fault". On the third page, specify that you be transferred to the "VIP floor" only. The fourth page will have plenty of room for you to note your food preferences, the fact that you don't want to be served on plasticware, and that, regardless of your latest test results, you refuse to be put in isolation.

Refuse to have an IV placed in a spot where it is least painful and most convenient for all involved. If necessary, lie about previous surgeries to that extremity in order to manage this. Nobody reads your history, right?

Be noncompliant with treatments. If you can't turn off or change the settings on the IV pump because it's locked, the next best thing is to unplug it and leave it unplugged until the battery runs down. If you've been ordered to remain on flat bedrest because of a cerebrospinal fluid leak, by all means sit up as often as possible. Conversely, if you've been ordered to walk at least three times a day, make as dramatic a production as you can of getting out of bed. Moaning and groaning is required; sagging to the floor whimpering is optional but effective, especially when done in front of your family.

One very important note about treatment noncompliance: If you are diabetic, ensure that your family brings you huge amounts of sugary food. Hide it in your room. Hide it in your bed. Hide it on your person. The Girl needs exercise, which she will certainly get when your blood sugar comes back at 1300 mg/dl.

Work the occasional old-fashioned derogatory term for racial minorities into your conversation. Those People have to be reminded where they stand, after all. The Girl and the other nurses will be glad you're reinforcing the social order, even if they don't act like they are.

Invite all your friends, fellow gang members, remote family connections, and strangers on the street to come visit at all hours. Instruct them to talk loudly on cell phones in the hallways. Send whatever small children they bring into other patients' rooms. The pre-teens should be told to ask for ice cream and sodas, repeatedly, at the nurses' station.

If you can't get what you want, call your doctor at home. This is particularly effective if done at 3 am, and if your doctor doesn't have admitting privileges at the hospital where you are. Bonus points if you have a doctor who'll call the nurses' station and bluster.

Speaking of bluster, if you have a family member who's a doctor, use that person the way God intended: To attempt to bully the staff of the hospital into changing treatment protocols.

(Special note for those with medical family members: Be sure that if your son-in-law is a staff physician at the hospital, he is the primary physician on your case. It's been too long since the last ethics course refresher; the staff could use the training.)

Remember that medical people, nurses in particular and neuroscience nurses in especial particular, are too dumb to know if you're faking a seizure. A well-timed fake seizure will get you two extra days of Ativan and Dilaudid.

Instruct each and every one of your family members to call the nurses' station every sixteen minutes throughout the day for updates on your condition. Phone trees are for the hoi polloi. Extra points if you can arrange to have several family members call at once during shift change.

If all else fails, barrage the director of nursing, chief medical officer, and police with phone calls. People in management will have a better idea of your treatment needs and activity restrictions, your diet orders and medication regimen, your physical therapy schedule and dressing changes, than your nurse or doctor.

*I wish I were capable of making this shit up.

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