Thursday, November 20, 2008

Beaumont, Brahms and Bills

Beaumont (Troy) is a 296 bed hospital, although it is easy as a patient to loose track of that fact when you are confined to a 12-patient wing on the fourth floor orthopaedic wing. However, four items helped me to keep my personal pain and problems in perspective with the 'big picture'.

First, Beaumont--and I suspect many other hospitals--have changed. They are incredibly quiet. No phones ringing, no nurse call bells, no clattering of carts because of carpeting and no paging of doctors--like the obnoxious PA in K-Mart--"PRICE CHECK IN AISLE 3". Also, better control of visitors has cut the background noise.

Secondly, your roommate usually has his own problems. In my 4-5 major hospital stays, I seem to have always drawn someone who was in much worse shape than I. I felt this stiffled any supportive conversation between us. On one occasion I actually had two roommates who were simply drunks, and were in the hospital to 'dry out'. And on another occasion my roommate died--fortunately after I had checked out.

That leads to my third observation. In the 3+ hospital stays I have experienced plus three more from my immediate family, we always knew we would be coming out alive. But such is not the case for many patients. Waiting rooms are a mishmash of people and emotions. While the doctors do a great job of privately speaking to family members, some individuals, particularly those with access to cell phones, seem to need to announce their problems to the world. Regardless of one's empathetic level, it is tough to hear of an expected death.

But I saved the best for last. As Judy walked around Beaumont, she would occasionally hear faint bells playing 'Brahms' Lullaby'. When she asked why, the answer was simple: 'Another baby has just been born'.

As I write this blog, 25 days post-operation, I have yet to receive any bills. We'll see how my perspective changes once the bills start rolling in.


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