Just in case you’ve never stayed at a hospital for a procedure, let me give you the realistic version of what to expect. First of all, you have to have nothing to eat or drink past midnight for your morning/early afternoon procedure. Are you normally a coffee person to get you through the day? Well now you have to face your toughest day without it. There’s parched, and then there’s 12 hours of no liquids whatsoever parched. That’s a whole new level of torture. Then you have to put on their hospital approved pajamas, which are basically long t-shirts that are WIDE open in the back, for all the world to see. All the other patients are wearing them too, and you don’t want to see them either! Then the nurse tries to either get blood or start an IV, but the veins in your arm won’t cooperate because you haven’t had anything to drink all day…so after they’ve jammed you with a needle and wiggled it around for a while with no luck, they ask if they can poke and prod your other arm. “Sure!” you say as enthusiastically as you can muster. “I would like matching pain and bruises in both arms please. Sign me up!” It’s not the nurse’s fault your veins need coffee too in order to work too, so you offer your arm up in hopes it works this time! The nice nurses always offer another blanket because they can see you’re freezing just laying there in that amazing electronically propped up bed, so they offer you the thinnest blanket you’ve ever seen in your life for comfort. I always ask if there’s enough blankets for everyone if they bring me 50 more thin ones to equal a normal sized quilt that’s needed to keep me room temperature. Then they bring you your menu, which is very depressing because you can see lobster or prime rib on there, but they’ve circled “broth only” for you! That’s like sitting on a plane and seeing a full, amazing menu for first class, and seeing “peanuts only” circled for your coach seat. Are they trying to start a riot? Suddenly it’s time for your procedure and since they won’t let you wear contacts or bring your glasses with you to the operating room, you can’t see a thing! People are saying hi to me but they’re so blurry, I just look in their general direction to answer and hope I don’t come across as confused, even though I am. They’re probably thinking, where is she looking? Then after surgery, you wake up mid conversation and wonder how long you’ve been talking and what in the world have you been saying? So they wheel you back to your room and you meet your new roommate, who seems to love having his TV super loud, especially at night when you’re trying to sleep! Now it’s time for lunch and you get to watch him eat steak and lobster from your broth cup. Super! After lunch, it’s time to learn to walk with the awkward IV pole that refuses to glide nicely for you, and takes corners like an obstinate grocery cart with broken wheels. You’re barely able to stand and now you’re in a physical altercation with an IV pole that you have to wrestle with in order to get it to move with you. All this movement loosens your pj’s in the back, which is not good for anybody. This is one pajama party you do NOT want to attend. I don’t know why you have to drag that pole everywhere you go anyways, nobody ever looks at the numbers or pays attention to all the loud, incessant beeping anyhow. As you walk down the hall you don’t dare look in other rooms because you’re afraid you’re not going to be able to unsee what’s going on post-surgery with everyone else since you can barely look at yourself in the mirror. I’d never make it as a nurse because I’d pass out in the E.R. seeing what they see. I couldn’t hide the horror on my face, so that’s not very settling to the patients. The patient is probably fine but they see my face and think, oh no, am I that bad? Even in my own room I don’t know where to look…..it’s either look out the hallway with people struggling to keep their pj’s on while they fight with their IV pole, or look out the prison window that just shows a brick wall from another wing of the building. I guess I’ll put on my tv louder than my roommates tv….the nurses are going to love us! Sure enough they don’t, because at night they wake you up every single hour to get your vitals! Why isn’t the night time nurse as busy as day time nurse? The day nurse is so busy you never see her, even if you desperately need something. Night nurse must only have to take care of just the two of us in this room having a sleep over because she’s “Johnny on the spot” every hour, putting a tight blood pressure cuff on your arm to make sure you’re awake! But in the morning you’ve graduated to jello, so it’s all good! To all the nurses over the years who have helped us all through our worst times, thank you and Happy National Nurses Week this week!