A Hospital Survival Guide

I'm in a bit of a miserable place right now, so I thought I would tap into some sarcasm and make myself, and hopefully you loverly Scoliotics, giggle a bit.

The fact of the matter is that at some point we probably have to have a surgery. If we're spectacularly unlucky we might have two, or three. Keep in mind by the time you hit 4-9 surgeries, you should probably order yourself a plastic bubble and black out your windows. Personally, I am still waiting for my order for military grade food supplies that I can keep in my bomb shelter.

So, with that in mind, how exactly do we survive a surgery? What sort of ungodly horrors await us and what can we do to make the experience a little more bearable? Follow this guide and I assure you, your hospital experience will be...average, really. I mean, none of this is going to actually make it better because, let's face it, the only way to make any surgery better is to be told that while the doctors were inside you they decided to install rocket boosters and laser vision. At least, that would make me feel better.

1. MP3 player: I cannot stress the importance of this. Unless you're an employee of Apple or Microsquash or a Wallstreet trader, the chances are you're going to be in a room with someone else. If you're really unlucky that someone else is going to have both night terrors and an inexplicable need to invite you to Farmville every few minutes. To make matters worse there is going to be beeping and crying and rustling and shuffling and very quickly you are going to be driven to a point of madness that will result in you using that rocket booster to fry your roommates farm and take out the nurse's station. An MP3 player will be a godsend. Fill it with music that calms you, makes you happy, fits the mood, whatever you need. One concern can be getting tangled in the cords, but you won't be moving anywhere fast, so have no fear. Slip on your headphones at night and have at 'er. Without them, it's going to be very difficult to get a good nights sleep.

2. Colouring Books: Trust me when I say, distractions are important. With health care being the way it is you'll have plenty of company for the first couple days. And by company I do, of course, mean people who are the equivalent of drill sargeants at boot camp, only where they demand fifty more push ups, your squad of angry people are going to be demanding you master the log roll, work on your lung capacity and, for the love of all that is good and holy, walk.

Once you've mastered the basics, most of them will leave you alone. In fact, you won't see a nurse ever. That call button is one giant misleading sign meant to give you some sort of false hope in your doped up state. So suck those ice chips carefully and make sure you have an infinite supply of things to keep you entertained. I cannot stress enough the value of colouring books. I'm one hundred percent serious here, colouring books are a godsend. Face it, you'll barely be capable of reciting the ABC's let alone reading a book for the first few days, so a book with cheery Disney Princesses or Batman and the obligatory four different coloured markers that only last a page and a half will be the greatest invention of all time. And the best part? Once all is said and done, if you feel like holding on to it, because hey, you might want to give Optimus Prime a makeover at some point, you can easily claim that it's the book of a niece or nephew and yes, they seem to have a serious issue with colouring in the lines. No one has to know!

3. Man-Slave: Pretend for a moment that you won't have a family member or friend at your beck and call. The man-slave is essential to your survival. You might not be up for pina coladas and Bob Marley crooning in your ear, but having someone at your beck and call will help you towards a speedy recovery. Take this example:

You: (Thoroughly doped up) Gnnarflg...
Edjuardo, the Pool Boy: You would like massage? I can do massage.
You: Yeaaaarghh.
Edjuardo: Let me tell you about old country and my all boy's school for young, ripping gentlemen where I grew up.
You: (Sigh of contentment)

But if you're more interested in just focusing on the healing process, your man-slave will be able to help you wash your face and arms when you can't get up, help you do that cursed log-roll in the early days, get the nurse for you, help you brush your teeth, and just generally assist in all the little things that are going to see completely overwhelming to you. Plus, you know, in my fantasy he's a greased up pool boy, and that makes me feel way better.

4. Inexhaustable supply of food rations: Okay, I know I'm beating a dead horse here, but... strained. oats. Oats that have been, for whatever reason, strained. That is what you have to look forward to. You know why? Because ice chips are for winners, and hospital J-ELLO is gross. Your best option at this point is to sew some Crispy Crunch bars into your pants, use pieces of sliced ham as shoe supports, and devise some sort of 'security blanket' entirely out of dried fruit leather. I know it sounds like a bit of work just to avoid hospital food, but.... strained. oats. Trust me on this, in those lonely nights when your tummy isn't grumbling (because until it grumbles you won't be given real food) you will be eternally grateful for that dried fruit blanket.

5. A sense of humor. I heard this one on Conan. So this moth walks into a podiatrists office and the doctor says "what can I do for you?" and the moth says, "Geez, Doc. I don't know what I'm doing anymore. I wake up every morning and turn over and look at this frazzled corpse of a woman I once love, whose life is dead in her eyes, and whose face is a leathery distortion of her beauty that faded years ago, and I wonder why I ever loved her if I can't love her now as she is."

The moth goes on, "And I hate my children, Doc. I know I'm a terrible father, I am, but I hate them. My youngest daughter is dating a man ten years her senior whose only aspiration is to be the next Bon Jovi. Meanwhile she's failing all her school classes and the only time she ever smiles at me is when she's about to ask for more money. And god forgive me for saying this but I hate my son. I look at him and it's like looking in a mirror and I see all the youthful idiocy that I once possessed; I see all my failures and my hopes floating dead in the water. I hate him, and if I could I would go back in time and I would erase all of it, I would take it all back. I wouldn't fall in love with my leathery wife and we wouldn't have two-scum-of-the-earth children, and I would be happier. And my job-"

"Now hold on," the Podiatrist says, "You sound incredibly depressed. You need a therapist, not a podiatrist. Why on earth did you come to me?"

"Simple," the moth says, "The light was on."

HA! Now imagine how funny that is while you're doped up on morphine.

6. Moist Towelettes: This is a legitimate suggestion actually. Now, if you're fortunate enough to have someone with you 24/7, the use and upkeep of face clothes and hand towels shouldn't be a problem. It isn't fair to assume that just because you have company doesn't mean they'll be at your beck and call. If that's the case, you might want to have a handful of these near by. Hospitals are sticky, gross places full of sticky, gross, sick people with sticky, gross, sick, and winkly fingers (That much we can all agree on). The cure is a moist towelette. No one would even question you whipping one of those puppies out after you're done your delightful meal of strained oats and dry toast.

7. Cheap, Despicable Magazines: During my second surgery I somehow managed to drag myself out of bed and down to the hospital gift shop where, to my delight, I discovered a People magazine that reminded me of Johnny Depp's birthday. Now, some may say I sort of am madly in love with Johnny Depp, but they exaggerate. The fact that I wanted to celebrate the occasion (which happened to be the next day) was based out of my desire to bring some sort of joy into the miserable, clown infested hospital I found myself. Plus, everyone knows Johnny is a total hottie.

Like I said earlier, for the first few days you aren't going to be up to much deep thinking (colouring books. colouring. books.) So a cheap magazine filled with juicy gossip (or for you gentlemen out there, trucks with large wheels and lots of mud) can provide hours of endless entertainment. The best part is purchasing it from the hospital gift shop; you can guarantee it will be from the last century, as opposed to the magazines that we find in the ortho-department waiting rooms that have sexy hieroglyphs from the sixth century, and boy, let me tell you about Ms. Hatshepsut January, she's a total babe.

But really, there's nothing nicer there a completely mindless magazine in which you can read about some delusional editors belief that Prince Charles' secret sonar hearing is picking up Alien Transmissions.

8. A Blanket. I drag mine with me everywhere. I've had it since I was born. At one point it was a baby sleeping bag, then it just became a blanket, then it degraded into a costume piece my brother almost used for his leaper costume in Jesus Christ Super Star. Needless to say it's in bad condition, but it comes to every, single, hospital stay. I used to worry that the nurses would assume it was some sort of rag and toss it out, so I clutched on to it for dear life. It's a worldly comfort that I wouldn't dream of going on without.

During my last hospital stay, my Auntie Liz (who is a quilter-extraordinaire, I might add) made me a beautiful Asian quilt, with all my favourite colours on it. It was a huge comfort and, more importantly, kept me a heck of a lot warmer than those lame linen sheets that nurses tuck around you in failed attempts to cut off your air supply and end your misery. That's right, nursing population of the world, we're on to you.

A comfort blanket is just one of those things, it might seem irrelovent at the time, but when you're plugged into Hawksley Workman, picking bits of Mars bar out of your teeth and flicking them at a photoshopped image of Kate Middleton shining her narwhal-esque horn as Edjuardo, your man-slave, hangs up your poorly coloured images of Princess Jasmine and Jafar, you will be in hospital heaven.

And by heaven I mean pretty darn drugged up and having haunting dreams about 18th century vampires chasing you around a cross-section of a house (true story.)



Little Ms. Fun said…
I had my surgery in January & wished I stumbled across this post..I missed on the most important thing, a man slave!! I had the surgery in the city which was very far from home and my family.
Anita said…
Thanks for the advice!
Your kind and encouraging words are so inspiring-just what I needed. (:
~15 year old with scoliosis

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