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A first-time hospital patient

Published May 05. 2012 09:01AM

I was blessed with good health all my life until a medical emergency put me in the hospital for over a week, recently. It's the first time in my 61 years I had ever lain in a hospital bed.

Fortunately, I got terrific medical treatment and am doing very well, thank you.

I have a few thoughts from my stay that I'd like to share:

When you go to a doctor, they tell you to go home and get your rest. When you go to a hospital, a place where doctors hang out, you get very little rest.

Every morning at 4:45, I'd be awakened for blood pressure checks, blood tests, etc. Several times during the night, I'd be rousted for one thing or another.

In one of the hospitals, I usually was awake anyway because the hall alarms were so loud - and ringing constantly - that it was virtually impossible to get any sleep.

The food is not the same in all hospitals.

One hospital, in Allentown, gave a full menu of options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If I tried to order something that wasn't on my diet, the people in the lunch room knew when I ordered and nixed the choice.

There were options of pulled pork barbecue, hot turkey sandwiches, apple pie, hamburgers, etc.

The menu was almost enough to make we want to stay.

If I didn't order from the menu, personnel from the kitchen would call and ask me what I wanted.

At another hospital, the menus had two selections. I never got to pick either because each time the menu came around, I was out of the room for a test or being attended to by a doctor. The menu was never circulated a second time.

I hate needles. I admit to being afraid of needles. But in the hospital you get plenty of them - like it or not.

What I found out is some nurses are great at taking blood and giving IV, while others are a tough as Calamity Jane.

I remember a nurse in one hospital who not only put the needle into my arm and began wiggling it around to find blood, but at one point pulled it up vertically as though she was digging for Marcellus Shale in my arm.

I've talked with elderly friends who dread blood tests from certain nurses who they claim are a little rough. I understand what they're talking about.

Most of the nurses had compassion. For a few, they could use an update on the topic of patient compassion.

Hospitals don't always communicate.

When I went to the hospital, the doctor tried to get my medical records from an emergency room visit I made to another facility. The records were never forwarded. As far as I know, they still weren't.

They're my medical records. Why weren't they forwarded?

In this day of modern computers and hospitals converting to on-line systems, there's no reason one hospital shouldn't be able to get your medical history from another facility if you agree to it.

This is wrong and any hospital or medical facility not sharing medical information when requested appropriately should face penalties.

One thing I found out while hospitalized was how great people are in general.

Of course the hospital staff - doctors, nurses, aides, even cleaning personnel - were great. They went out of their way to try to make me comfortable.

I was thankful, too, for the people who came to visit: Relatives, friends, and co-workers.

And then there were the cards - dozens of them - from so many people; people I haven't talked to in a long time, friends, my TIMES NEWS family.

The hospitalization made me more aware that people care for each other. Some times we forget that.

I've gotten a new respect for doctors and others in the medical profession. Until you need them, you don't realize how talented they are.

The illness and hospital confinement also made me realize that life is fragile. I, like so many people, had always taken my health for granted.

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