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Recent Hospital Inpatient

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In a cold, drafty ambulance, you're driven about an hour away to your best and closest hospital. When your very own body on that gurney bumps across that plate at the Emergency Room door, though you look your worst, most bloated self — pale, eyes almost closed shut, a desire not to speak to anyone for any reason — you still comprehend everything around you except what's mumbled. You're parked in a curtained slot and wished well by the ambulance drivers who strapped you in. Your first encounter is a young woman with a clipboard asking the problem, which is the first time of many, you have to say the graphic words.

Liquids are withdrawn from your arms or hands. A plastic wrap is placed above the elbow and pumped, and a clamp on your fingertip. A doctor steps in, orders admission and you're off, down what seem like never-ending halls.You're asked to slide from the gurney to the hospital bed, helped by a slip sheet lifted under you, and there you lie for days, too weak to act on suggestions that you sit up instead.

Nourishing saline is dripped into you the 5-1/2 days until your hands look like clown's. Every hour or so around the clock, you're woken to offer your arm again. Once in awhile you're weighed. You're not allowed a shower because of your weakness, so you're brought warmed "bath" wipes. You hair becomes atrocious, so it's covered with a cap full of suds that don't have to be rinsed. I'll spare you the talk of next and next needles.

When you are disabled, and your sole insurance is Medicare/Medicaid your first test is for c.Diff and MRSA in this hospital, two of the most well-known bacterial infections that have become immune to antibiotics, presuming with your other low-income acquaintances you are likely to have it. Your wrist is strapped with a yellow band noting this possibility, so everybody entering the room wears a gown and gloves. I was negative for both, yet my band didn't come off, nor the sign by my door, so I asked why not. Then they both were removed.

On a liquid diet, you've given chicken broth, jello, coffee and juice every meal for days. When you're finally out of the woods, changed to solid foods, you've given the same food that every other patient is given, and even if it looks inviting, you have no appetite for any of it after a few forksful.

Your son takes you home, cleans the mess you left in the bathroom and straightens the bed, having shared a meal you thought you could eat. Despite you're his mother, he insists that Scout leadership prepared him for anything, and again, you bless his heart.

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