Hospital Howling and Hazing

February 19th, 2009 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Invariably, the nursing grins start and the tone lowers on the day you leave the hospital. I and everyone else hears, “You’ll be glad to be home…where you can sleep and where it’s quite.”

I know that not all hospitals are the crowd scene my Wing 15-D at Brigham and Women’s was. There aren’t enough movie extras to maintain the hubbub, shouting and laughter. Oddly enough, moaning and beseeching patients were a tiny subset of the aural traffic.

I have been in places, visiting my wife and other relatives, where the staff enforced relative stillness and hushed unnecessary. In fact, after the delivery of our third, she was in a maternity wing in this same hospital that was not out of Ben Hur. On 15-D, it was a party, at least for nurses and other staff.

Note that I have already been taken to task privately twice in the fast few days for, for, well harrumphing. Both my middle-aged niece and a generally wise elderly minister friend from way back have written that so long as I am alive after the broken bones and surgery, I have no real problem.

Of course, were I so Panglossian, I would not host Harrumph!

On 15-D, nurses and other medical sorts partied loud, long and often, in the hallways and rooms. The clichéd HOSPITAL ZONE: QUIET! was neither a sign nor a way of life. Plus, my roomie was a narcissist who moaned until he got nurse and aide attention for nothing in particular, played his TV 24 hours a day (I was told I couldn’t even ask him to turn it down), and he was deaf enough that he and all of his guests shouted every word. He truly needed many people at a time in his/our space and air.

The absurdity of the Brigham’s High-Volume Theatre transcended either annoyance or self-pity. I had been wheeled into an alternate world where there were, as the Black Eyed Peas sing, “People livin’ like they ain’t got no mamas.”

I realized a few days after surgery that there was a grocery-cashier mentality that contributed to the hazing of patients. We’d appear and leave — by foot, wheelchair or gurney. They’d be there every day for their shifts.

You know the little joy of a cashier who is efficient and considerate, the one who whisks your yogurt and bag of oranges through. In truth, there’s little motivation, other than what their mama taught them about being thoughtful. We should be sure to praise those nice folk as they help us.

The zen types might say that such behavior is in the moment. I say bless those who are nice to others caught in their processes and harrumph to those who do not.

To a couple of the nurses who said they bet I would be glad to be in my quiet house, I did say that I was astonished at how loud 15-D was. They agreed it was very loud indeed.

Unlike a Greek organization, Brigham’s didn’t bestow a life-long membership in the club after the hazing. They didn’t have to. People were waiting for every bed.

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2 Responses

  1. Lizard Eater says:

    TOTAL sympathy here. And I think you’re right about “grocery-cashier mentality.” On the oncology floor, where nurses had long-term relationships with patients, just about everyone was very courteous, thoughtful, quiet. But when we were in the ICU — where it should have been more important, right? — the nurses acted as if the patients had no ears. I can still remember one shouting down the ward to another one at 2 in the morning about where they should get dinner. Patients? What patients?

    Wishing you a fast recovery.

  2. Braidwood says:

    Wow! I hope you are home now enjoying some quiet, or at least the noise of your choosing.

    “You know the little joy of a cashier who is efficient and considerate, the one who whisks your yogurt and bag of oranges through. In truth, there’s little motivation, other than what their mama taught them about being thoughtful. We should be sure to praise those nice folk as they help us.”

    That is SO true. I am always grateful for those people who make my life a little easier and more pleasant- especially when they don’t have to. That’s why I’m pro-health care for everyone. Do it for the cheerful cashiers! 😉

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