Hospital norms.

It's occurred to me that I have a lot of memories of hospitals, all of them created in the very recent past. I actually realised this when I was sharing and swapping stories with a friend not too long ago - a friend who has had some trying times and health scares, too. We had a lot of things in common, and we both had funny tidbits to swap. 

Then one of my mum's friends commented on my amusing anecdote that I was sharing, said she had no idea this or that I thought I'd share a few things others may find odd. 
These are things I am used to, that others may never have heard of, let alone encountered themselves...

  • 'Have you opened your bowels?' 
    Yes, we are diving right in and starting with one of the most hideous and ridiculous things I am now completely used to hearing. For those who don't know, 'opening the bowels' is a technical way of saying 'pooping'. Nurses would always come around to my bed in the ward and, while doing checks, say very casually 'have you opened your bowels?'
    ...I think I'd genuinely rather hear 'have you pooped?'
    So yes, I am used to hearing these five words. Doesn't make it any less gross, though. It doesn't stop me cringing every damn time I hear it. Especially when my surgeon says it.

  • Name, date of birth, address. Name, address, date. Name?  
    On the ward, I'd be woken every few hours and checked on by the gorgeous nurses (no seriously, they were properly gorgeous. I don't know how they managed to stay so dewy and naturally flawless on their tough, long shifts!?), and they'd ask me to tell them my name, the date that day, and sometimes my address.
    In radiotherapy, every day the radiographer would ask for my name, date of birth, and address. They started saying 'and details, please' or 'questions?' after a while; I'd recite the facts while levering myself onto the bed.

  • 'Sharp scratch!'  
    I'll be sitting there, sleeve rolled up and left forearm presented willingly (that's the one with the best veins, it seems) anticipating the stabbing of the needle for the blood test or cannula insertion. Then the needle-holder will always mutter cheerfully 'sharp scratch!' as the needle goes in. Because a needle going in feels like a sharp scratch according to every attendant, ever.
    I wonder why they feel the need to say that. It's a universal thing, it's said at every hospital I've been to. I suppose it's better than hearing the doc say 'it's going in now'...ooh err. And the harmless upbeat utterance does make it slightly better, I suppose...just slightly. 

  • Sleeping through the beeping.  
    I used to wake with a start whenever I heard anything. Except trains – growing up behind a train station immunised me. I still might wake when a stupid bird starts squawking outside...but a machine, beeping? Nope! The glare of the bright monitors and the noises the machines, all white noise, not an issue at all. 

  • The hospital switchboard. 
    Those miserable bastards. More often than not I will call up and need a transfer to a specific department or human – I'll give an extension number, in the most cheery and polite way, it's usually prefixed with a 'hiya!' and a 'pretty please' can even be thrown in...and I get nothing. Not a thing. Nada. I get a clicking noise and an immediate transfer. Now I won't lie, I find that ridiculously rude. I mean, really. How hard is it to utter a quick 'sure, putting you through!' or even a 'no problem!' when the switchboard person enters the extension code...? I would if I worked in that office! Plus it reassures the callers that they actually are being transferred! Some people may think they've been hung up on or lost connection if they just hear that clicking then they may hang up, and call again! The switchboard folks are really creating more work for themselves, if that happens. 
    Also, sorry but...people who call a hospital, needing an extension, will most likely have had a horrible hard thing happen to them at one time or another. Because they are calling a hospital and need to speak to someone on a particular line. So really they are the people who would most appreciate a nice phone conversation and reassurance. Am I right? Yes, yes I am. Sort it, switchboard. 

Okay, rants over. I think that's it for these funny norms of mine...for now! 
Have I missed anything out? 

Oh, right, one more thing. One more thing I am all too used to in hospitals and general medical atmospheres...waiting. As we speak (or, ermm, as I type) I am waiting on results for a scan. I really, really hate waiting for test/scan/histology results, if I had it my way I'd come out of the MRI and they'd tell me almost immediately if it's all groovy or gone to shit again...but it can't be helped. A hospital is actually a major operation (ha) after all, and I respect that it takes a lot of time for things to get seen to. 
Another thing attached to this would be pushing. No, I don't mean childbirth, no thank you...I mean when you know something is wrong, when you want to be seen by a different doctor or a specialist or a consultant, then push like you've never pushed before and make them all see you. See you for appointments, and see you for who you are. For what you may or may not have. 
Right. That's the ranting and rambling over. 

I know some completely and utterly awesome magical humans who have dealt with the absolute worst situations and struggled (but triumphed) with bad you feel any of my feels? Or maybe something different? Let me know! 

Hopefully, y'know, I won't be getting any fresh new things to add to this list any time soon...I'm pretty much done with hospitals now, folks. I'm quite sick of them.
*badum-bumm tsssshhh!* 


  1. This post made me smile. I work in a hospital AND I am a regular patient and so I see it from both sides, and have you had your bowels open was one of the things I HATED asking when I started working there. Now I say it so casually, but you always know if someone hasnt been in hospital before because it seems the most shocking thing to be asked!! I think iots a british thing, A lot of the european staff we have dont find it awkward at all!


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