The month of July has been rather exciting for me with two hospital stints; one in Perth and one in Singapore. I could carry on writing a tragic but inspiring tale of a young mother in hospital, clinging on to life and sharing the enlightenment and revelations being sick brought her. Unfortunately, despite my prolonged staring at the ceiling and the sickening peach walls, the only discovery I made was that if you stared at an empty wall for long enough, you became cross-eyed.
Once you get past the tiny fact that you’re hospitalised because there is something wrong with you, hospitalisations are rather enjoyable, just like a staycation.
Exceptional room service
No matter how much you pay for a five star accommodation, it will never come close to the kind of service you receive in hospitals. Where else can you press a bell and get someone to hand you a glass of water that is two meters away from you? They even stay on to chat with you and say nice things like ‘You are so beautiful’ and You are doing so well’ when you smell like rotten eggs, look like a maniac and wince for every blood test.
You’ll never be lonely. Ever
I was one of those ‘risk of fall’ patients and I felt so awesome that I always had at least two people to help me up or walk me somewhere. It was like being the most popular girl (with a slight limp) in an American sitcom. Though I was thrilled about always having company, they insisted on following me on trips to the toilet as well. Now, it’s a lot harder to wee or poo when someone is watching you with a very bored expression on their face.
Food and TV galore!
Given that the only thing expected of me was to lie down, I almost wanted to cry in joy. Compared to my usual daily routine of sprinting around the house after a toddler armed with a marker, furiously drawing on her own face, this rest was a very welcome change. Just lay back and flip those channels. What more, people who visit are constantly buying you food. If that’s not enough, every two hours a nice lady pushes a trolley around asking you whether you need a snack or a magazine. For a minute, I thought I was on Hogwarts Express. Life couldn’t get better.
Very fashionable outfits
Ever been to an A&E in Perth? They give you these designer outfits that look like it’s from the latest edition of Vogue. Bareback, short and amazing prints. For myself, the dress was roomy and therefore I wore it off-shoulder. Better still are the men who totally rock the short dresses. Sometimes, additional accessories like tubes and tapes are provided. Throw in some drugs that cause drowsiness, everyone looks a million bucks!
Immense contribution to science
I strongly believe that I’ve contributed to science by providing numerous tubes of blood, pots of urine and even precious spinal fluid. Allowing them to use my results for research purposes made me feel like a martyr (okay, I’m exaggerating). Not to mention the countless medical students I’ve answered just so that they can practice taking patient history. Of course I looked at them doubtfully and asked them how old they were, but otherwise I was nice. Really.
Awesome room mates
Since I was admitted in a neurology ward, the youngest of my four room mates was 65. That did not stop her from dyeing her hair bubblegum pink. Judging by the number of people who visited her and that no same person came twice, I’m guessing she is a Chinese rockstar. Other room mates included a 84 year old who forgot everything every five minutes. She asked me for my name at least a hundred times and I gave her a different one every time. It was good fun. Not forgetting, the 82 year old who was delighted at the prospect of dying within the next year.
Great place for social gatherings
If you are fortunate enough to get hospitalised, do ask to be in a ward with others, especially in Singapore. Come 5pm, it’s a party! At least ten family members crowd around each bed and once they are bored talking to their relative, they walk around and talk to your friends, while peering at you with mild curiosity. It’s like being an art piece in an exhibit. The more complicated your disease, the more interesting you are.
Free personal development classes
On the second day of my hospitalisation, Kiara visited me. What I thought was a completely normal occurrence, created a stir. The whole of next day was spent reassuring nurses and other patients that I was married, not 20 and that my husband has not run away (yet). After explaining myself to a dozen people, I was tired. So when the next person repeated the question I told her I was a single mother who had to quit college to have a baby and that my boyfriend dumped me. She almost fell off her chair and fractured her hip again. Luckily, she composed herself and ploughed through with a series of pep talks that was better than any motivational speech on TED.
Eighty year olds are way more fun than all my friends put together. They are loud, funny, don’t care what you think about them and more often than not have no clue what they are saying or to whom they are talking. I had very meaningful conversations with one of them who only knew Cantonese (a Chinese dialect). I hope she wasn’t swearing at me because I smiled and agreed with everything she said. It is also perfectly acceptable to eavesdrop.
What is your favourite hospital experience?