My Hospital Diary

To make a long story short, the doctors were thorough, the nurses were friendly, and the food was awful.

I’ve had several people ask me recently about my four-week stay at Avera-McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls during the last week in June and most of July. For those of you who haven’t heard, I was victimized by what one of my doctors said was a “perfect storm” of troubles, stemming mostly from a couple of totally unexpected blood clots in my stomach.

Finally, I’m out, and working my way back to full speed at The Globe. I still need to re-gain the 30 pounds I lost at the hospital (although if I only gain 15 of them back I’d probably be in better shape).

Four weeks in the hospital for someone like me, who had been a very healthy person until two months ago, is quite an eye-opener. I’ll fill you in about a few hospital-type things now, which you can store in your head in case something like this happens to you someday:

Number One: The doctors. There were lots of them. I didn’t remember all their names, but I knew they were doctors by the white coats that they wore. They ordered enough tests to sink a battleship, but in the end they still didn’t exactly know what had happened to me. They told me I was a “special” case. Of course I already knew I was special because my mom told me so when I was 5.

Number Two: The nurses. There were lots of them, too, coming at me in shifts. The thing I remember most is that they were really young and really good-looking. They smiled all the time, and they always wanted to do things for me. Heck, it almost made me enjoy my stay at the hospital (for a moment or two, at least).

Number Three: The television. For the first two weeks at Avera-McKennan, I hardly turned on my TV set because I was so miserable. When I did, I really found out how terrible television is in the morning. There were three shopping networks, selling jewelry mostly. There were a couple of channels devoted to medical stuff. I could watch old Andy Griffith episodes, but there were more commercials than show.

The channel I found myself watching the most was one that had a stationary camera aimed at an aquarium full of tropical fish. That was the most exciting channel I found until the Wimbledon tennis tournament began being broadcasted by ESPN.

Thank goodness for tennis.

Number Four: The food. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, because when I finally was able to digest something (more than three weeks into my stay), the food was kindly brought to me on a tray. It tasted really bad, though, and for some reason the nutritionists constantly brought me the wrong things.

The worst moment occurred when they were supposed to bring me real meat (some beef, or meat loaf) and instead brought me a veggie burger. I know I’ll never try to eat anything as bad as a veggie burger again, and do you know why? If I ever see another one, I won’t go within 10 yards of it.

Fortunately, those nice, pretty nurses sometimes brought me a serving of sherbet ice cream as a late-night snack.

The sherbet, along with the smile, always made me feel better again.