This will be, by my standards, a pretty straightforward post. I am in the hospital for the second time in as many weeks, and my mind is understandably preoccupied by the ways in which this experience is uniquely miserable. So I feel compelled to make an angry list of all the ways in which I would do hospital better (because I would, always, do everything better.)
- Real chairs. Ones comfortable enough that anyone would be willing to actually sit in them instead of staying in the crib-width futon-ish plastic-wrapped beds 24 hours a day. Really, did being in bed nonstop ever make anyone less depressed? I feel like Elizabeth Barrett fucking Browning, and she doesn’t even get a capital F because in her case the middle name is derogatory, not laudatory as in Amanda Fucking Palmer.* Wouldn’t it be terribly fentestic if I could merely make it to the window?
- And on that note, room to move more than two inches. Rolling over on my side is great and all, especially for having vitals taken and blood drawn, but sometimes I like to wiggle my toes without bumping into a person or a machine, as well. Sometimes I even, in the privacy of my home, stand up and do yoga. This morning I managed to do some asanas that involve basically standing straight up and moving my arms, while only slightly running into the neighboring bed, but even if I could lie down on the floor, I’d probably catch the clap.
- Windows with blinds that open. I understand the paranoia about people jumping to their death, but when did a venetian blind ever prevent such things? If they’re worried that I’ll strangle myself on the cord, they could always make it button-operated, like everything else in the building. (Seriously, it’s like Star Trek, you can’t do anything manually.) My body might never figure out when to sleep without sedation again because it’s exactly the same level of dark-light at all hours.
- Decent hand soap that doesn’t oddly leave my hands smelling like french fries and feeling like steel wool afterward.
- Ping-pong tables. Because really, isn’t everything better with ping-pong tables?
- Actual availability of some of the alternative therapies that they tantalizingly list on the requisite whiteboard. To wit, “exercise, getting up in the morning, music, movies, relaxation” and most notably “MASSAGE.” Because apparently we can afford aides to sit in the doorway and monitor my movements and toileting activity day and night, but not massage therapists. (Which I recently learned is apparently the politically correct terminology these days. Just FYI.) Medicaid only covers being admitted when you didn’t want to be and making you sit here bored out of your mind, not doing shit that might actually make you feel better.
- Bathtubs… or at least showers. Or even better, jacuzzi. Anything that will stop me feeling morally and physically filthy, and rid me of the dirt-collecting gunk left on me by the mysterious 3M-branded stickers that adorned my body before I clandestinely ripped them all off.
- Food that comes in sizes larger than a tablespoon. I realize I’m not doing anything to make me terribly hungry, but I do still have to support my assorted autonomic bodily functions, even if I stay here long enough to become fully vegetative.
- Policies that actually acknowledge what I (being in my own body and all) insist would be best for me, instead of just (as the psych doc explicitly admitted this morning) covering the hospital’s giant hairy ass. Not once have I inquired about my legal rights as a self-determining adult without being answered with the threat of a 96-hour hold.
- Something on the walls, or anywhere in the building really, that has some aesthetic value. I am genuinely beginning to ascertain the interest in the scuffs and blemishes on the beige wall tiles, which deeply disturbs me. I’d accept a fucking fabric flower at this point, or, His Noodly Appendage help us, a Thomas Kinkaid painting. At least that would hold some ironic potential.
All in all, seems to me this place is set up to perpetuate my impending insanity so that they can continue to milk wealthier people’s hard-earned cash from the gummint. Or else a requirement for “health care” administrators is that they possess an insatiable sadist streak. Perhaps someone in the days of sanitariums decided to implement a strategy of “that which does not kill you makes you stronger.” It’s a mental health boot camp: I will either break entirely, or leave with such jaded resolve that nothing in the real world will ever phase me again.
In closing– one of the first services I was offered, in lieu of my prescribed medications, was a pneumonia vaccine. Highly encouraging.
* I confess to actually kind of liking a few of her poems, but let’s face it, she was essentially a tiresome Victorian parody with daddy issues and an egotistical mutual-admiration society with her much more talented husband.