Sunday, August 20, 2006

The top 10 reasons I do NOT plan to have my next family reunion at a hospital

I had one of those days yesterday. You know the kind. They start out differently than you had planned and just go downhill from there.

The original plan was that my two girls and I, my mother, my SIL and her two kids were all going to meet at my grandmother's nursing home to celebrate her 94th birthday yesterday. Afterward, several of us would be staying overnight at a hotel WITH A SWIMMING POOL and celebrating my aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary today.

I'd already gotten wind from my mother on Friday night that she wasn't feeling well and wasn't sure if she'd be able to make it the next day, so when she called on Saturday morning with the news that she hadn't slept a wink all night and definitely didn't feel like making the trip, I certainly understood. The girls and I even offered to bring a change of clothes along and go onto my parents' house after Grandma's birthday party, but Mom declined, saying that she REALLY felt too bad to even think about company.

We couldn't bear to think about Grandma celebrating her birthday without a gathering of family, so the three of us hopped in the car and took off on the two-hour drive. For whatever reason, I had the notion to throw a stick of deodorant, hairbrush, some lip stick and my needlework in a bag just for good measure.

The little birthday party went off perfectly. Grandma was thrilled to see the kiddos, and we walked the halls of the nursing home talking with the residents whose eyes never fail to light up when they see our crew of four little people coming.

Then just as I was heading out of town, my phone rang, and it was my mother telling me that her abdominal pain hadn't gotten any better and she was en route to the emergency room of a Little Rock hospital.

Rachel, Sara and I changed gears quickly and headed south toward Little Rock. We got there around dinnertime, and my SIL met us there to take the girls on to her house another half hour away.

So, here are the three of us, obviously about to spend the night away from home with no PJ's, no toothbrushes, no Pull-Ups for Sara, no contact lens solution ... and I couldn't have cared less. All I knew was that I needed to be with my folks, and the girls were in great hands with my extremely efficient and organized SIL.

It was the first time since before my brother and I each got married 11 years ago that the two of us and our parents had spent an extended amount of time together with no one else around. It was, in a funky way, an impromptu family reunion, but one I hope I don't have to repeat again anytime soon.

We stayed in the ER until around 1:30 a.m. this morning before they finally got Mom moved to a private room and we could get some rest (and I use that term very loosely), so I'm a little fuzzy-brained as I write this. But here, in a nutshell, are the top 10 reasons why I do NOT plan to have my next family gathering at Baptist Health in Little Rock:

10. The soap. I have never in my life smelled soap with such a repulsive scent. It's hard to think of my hands as being clean when they smell like somebody's dank, moldy basement.

9. No shower. Wearing the same clothes from 8 a.m. on Saturday until 8 p.m. on Sunday, a shower and new outfit would have gone a long way to improve my morale, but unfortunately, even if I had gone out and bought some new duds, Mom's otherwise nice private room was only equipped with a bathtub. Ewwwww. (Thank goodness for that stick of Secret in my bag!)

8. No Arvest ATM. I saw a few ATM's near the cafeteria, but none from my bank. And I really hate paying that silly service fee for the privilege of getting MY money from somebody else's machine.

7. No internet service. Not that it mattered anyway, since I left my notebook at home, but trust me, if I'd had it, that would have been an issue. Every two-bit motel between here and Albuquerque is offering wireless connections these days, so wouldn't you think major hospitals would as well?

6. The cafeteria food. Okay, so most hospital cafeterias aren't renowned for their quality. I was especially unimpressed with this one. For breakfast this morning, I reached into a refrigerated case to select a breakfast parfait that looked tasty. Until I had it in my hands and saw the BLACK BANANAS that appeared to be three days old. Double Ewwwwww....

5. Starbucks hours. My anxiety was made a little easier to bear when I realized there was a Starbucks on the bottom floor of the hospital. Until I discovered that they were only open during normal business hours, none of which fell during my 24-hour visit. A Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino for sure would have made the stay sweeter.

4. In each elevator hung a message encouraging positive health habits. One such message read, "Taking Five Flights of Steps a Day is Baptist Health Approved." And so, after breakfasting alone this morning, I ran from the cafeteria in the basement up five flights of stairs in my Skechers flip flops, trying like crazy to keep the "flop" to a minimum. When I arrived (breathless) at my mother's floor, I was dismayed to see a sign that the door was alarmed. What's the use of encouraging people to take the stairs, if they're only going to get stuck in the stairwell?!?

3. The temperature. I had to have a blanket wrapped around me the entire time to keep my teeth from chattering. I'd hate to be sick and stuck in that ice box.

2. The incessant intercom traffic. The nurses seemed to really enjoy getting on opposite ends of the unit from each other and carrying on intercom conversations with each other. Even at 3 a.m., we were hearing about the patient in 308 who needed her pain meds and a knee replacement down the hall who needed help going to the bathroom. Then there was the code blue on CCU that was cancelled fairly quickly after it was called. The thought that someone might have just expired crossed my mind and made it even harder to sleep.

And the NUMBER ONE reason why I will not plan my next family gathering at Baptist Health is:

1. NO DIET COKE. Apparently, this hospital has a contract with Pepsi, which means that nowhere on this entire large campus can you find a Coca-Cola product for sale. Nowhere. Which wouldn't be so awful if the Pepsi machines were stocked with Diet Dr. Pepper, Pepsi's only tolerable product as far as I'm concerned, but that wasn't even the case. When I complained, I was told that it was a very unpopular decision with the employees, too.

So, there you have it. On a positive note, I will say that every physician, nurse, aide, transporter, and housekeeper we encountered was EXTREMELY nice and in several cases, extremely funny. They all seemed to be enjoying their jobs which is not something I could say of any other hospital I've visited.

And on another positive note, I crocheted 8 more blocks for my friend's baby blanket.

We're still not 100% sure what's ailing mom, but the docs have some pretty good ideas and will be doing more tests tomorrow. If you think of her, pray that she will return to health quickly and be discharged soon. She's missing her own bed and getting tired of those indecent hospital gowns.

No comments: