I’m writing this column from a hospital bed.

For the first time in my life, I find myself hospitalized as doctors try to determine the cause of some ailments I’m experiencing.

One thing’s for sure – the hospital is no place for sick people.

I actually thought I might get some rest here. But with nurses taking vital signs every few hours – even during the middle of the night – the hospital is hardly a place of recuperation.

Hospitals are all about rules and regulations today – whether they make any sense or not.

Upon admission, I was interviewed by a nurse who, half apologetically and very self-consciously, asked me if anyone at home was “hurting me.”

I didn’t enter the hospital with any bruises. I came with a fever and dehydration and seeking a diagnosis of what was behind my discomfort.

“We have to ask these questions of everyone,” explained the nurse.

OK, do what you have to do. At least no one asked me if I have any firearms at home, which is a question that came up when my last child was born.

Most of what goes on in hospitals has to do with the prevention of litigation rather than curing the sick. But I was amazed to see the hospital requiring patients to use certain treatments that would greatly increase the hospital’s exposure to malpractice lawsuits.

Here’s one example: The hospital required all patients to use something called a Flowtron Excel machine, which was probably some lawsuit’s answer to an increase in bedsores and blood clots among patients. The Flowtron Excel is a simple device that requires wrapping the legs of bedridden patients so their legs would get alternating massages through the night.

But wait a minute! Aren’t we always hearing about hospital patients falling in their rooms? Imagine waking up in an unfamiliar hospital room needing to use the restroom. You’ve got several things to think about in the hospital that you don’t have to worry about at home – intravenous connections, rails on the side of the bed and now the patient’s legs are securely wrapped up individually and connected to this Flowtron Excel machine.

I opted out of this treatment, but I was trying to imagine elderly and disabled people trying to cope with all these inconveniences. Is the point to make them feel like captives?

The one thing I didn’t get to experience was the legendary hospital food, though I would have liked to. For my brief two-day stay, I was not allowed to eat or drink anything to ensure that my multiple CAT scans and other radiological diagnostic tests would offer their best results. So, as I write this, I have no eaten anything in 72 hours. I’ve done that before when I was fasting. But not drinking water was something new for me.

In fairness to hospitals, I have to say that I met some very dedicated professionals during this experience. Some of them laughed at the bureaucracy. Others made the best of it. I’m sure this is nothing new to people who have been in and around hospitals for much of their lives – either as patients or staff. But this was all new to me. The only time I ever spent the night in the hospital was voluntarily when one of my daughters was being born.

I’m amazed anyone ever gets out of these places alive!

And, mind you, this was one of the best facilities in one of the best locations around.

My strong advice: Don’t get sick.


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