When the Hospital isn’t About Healing

The hospital used to be an unimposing place for me when I was younger.

That all changes the older you get. As more and more things seem to go wrong with the pipes and plumbing of the human body due to age, it becomes more and more likely that you could enter the hospital and never come out.

When I was younger, going to the hospital meant getting fixed up or mended. There was no anxiety about whether or not they would find out the persistent sharp pain in my neck might be a tumor – or that the throbbing in my arteries behind my knee could instantly spell major surgery.

It’s what happens as time passes in one’s life, where safe places in the mind change to places where our mortality has to be squarely dealt with. It’s the anxiety of increased age.

I was in a hospital recently for a buddy of mine who landed in the ER on Christmas Day.

It was one of those things for him where a little pain, an increasing discomfort, turned into a Code Red disaster. I have to say, after spending a good deal of time in a modern hospital, it isn’t what it was years ago.

Most of all, they won’t let you sleep.

The first thing the doctor used to do was give you a check up, run some tests, and then they would order you to get some sleep, some rest. After all, that’s when the body repairs itself.

Nowadays, it’s probably akin to sleep deprivation torture. I would bet some hospital stays aren’t all that different than interrogation sessions at Guantanamo.

My buddy was exhausted; had been in the hospital two days and hadn’t slept soundly the whole time. It wasn’t because he couldn’t, but rather it was because every time he drifted off, some new person would appear at the door and want to do something.

Some of them were bringing sheets at 6 a.m. in the morning.

There was the guy in the mid-morning who woke him up to take the food order, and then the lady who came at 12:30 to wake him up for the actual meal delivery.

Others had to check some beeping sound that went off on the numerous machines – waking him up and poking him with new needles and new IV’s at 3:15 a.m.

Then in the day, there’s the rotating line of specialists that come in and out the door.

You meet more people in a hospital over the course of a day than you do at church on Sunday.

Every doctor is new.

Every nurse needs to disturb you at every shift change to introduce themselves and then get busy with the work of keeping you awake with their meanderings and shuffling of what-nots.

They were trying to keep my buddy’s blood pressure down, and it was getting there, but wasn’t staying where they wanted it. That’s why he was there in the first place. On an afternoon, he drifted off to sleep for a few hours and miraculously no one bothered him.

What do you know?

His blood pressure slowly started to go down.

Then came a beep from some confangled machine.

Immediately a woman appeared at the door to check on the machine. She might have been a nurse, or she might have been a student doctor.

He was deep in sleep, and she asked me if I would wake him up.

I said, “No, I don’t think it’s good for him. I’m not going to bother him.”

She looked at me crossly, frowned, and woke him up anyway.

So much for the resistance.

When he got out of the hospital, he had a whole bunch of new bottles of pills and a few boxes filled with devices to monitor his condition and record his vital signs.

However, I don’t know if he was any better than when he left home on Christmas Day. He was certainly more exhausted.


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Forgive me if you’re a die-hard fan of our Jr. Senator, Elizabeth Warren, but her tactics and strategies in dealing with the new order in D.C. just don’t sit right with me. I watch her complaining and, wide-eyed, basically saying over and over that everyone who doesn’t think like her or carry her ideology is somehow evil, misguided, bigoted and wrong.

Today, that would be most of the voting American public.

Her rhetoric is going to guide us into the furthest fringes – a state no one can work with despite the fact that, at least in my travels, few that I run into truly agree with all the “values” she tells us we “hold dear to in Massachusetts.” I’m not so sure she’s been around long enough to understand our complicated culture and the complex past that cannot be summed up in the Boston School Committee’s “approved” history of the City. It takes time to know Boston if you’re not from here, and you don’t learn those lessons in the hallways and classrooms of elite institutions in Cambridge.

This is not a Boston person. I’ve met her and she’s ok, but the street guy in me sends up red flags. There’s something that doesn’t add up. My instincts tell me to keep a distance, and replace her at the ballot box the first chance we get.

The days of the ideologue in government and politics are gone. I hope she can come to Earth and see that. Fighting the fight she’s engaging in will simply go nowhere and come at a tremendous cost to the children, the elderly and others who depend on her to work with others. Politicians are not builders of social structures or people we need to tell us the best way to live. I’ve always been of the opinion that their best function is to make sure the bread is delivered to pave the streets and fill the potholes – which they often don’t do.

Quite frankly, not everyone who lives south of Cambridge/Somerville is a bigot or unfit to do the work of the federal government. It’s wrong to say so, and she says that too much.

People will stop listening, even when she has a point.

I know I have.

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