Saturday, October 27, 2007

# 82 - Hospital

I remember going to the hospital with adult relatives when I was a youngster. Usually it was to visit someone, often a relative, who was dying. That's what hospitals were for back then, well, I guess they still are!

Anyway, the most pungent memory for me about those visits was the pervasive smell throughout the building. Years later I discovered that smell to be from Ether.

Ether was the predominant odor in all hospitals up until at least 1970, when it's use as an anesthetic was replaced by more modern, less explosive, and better smelling agents. Anyone who received ether recalls the experience in the most unhappy way.
For the most part, I think people normally would prefer to avoid hospitals and in particular surgery. The prospect of being rendered unconscious and helpless is very frightening to a fair majority of folks. I fall into that group as well. Add to that the fear that you might die, and surgery becomes quite an unpleasant contemplation. That is exactly the reason that I endured yearly bouts of horribly painful tonsillitis until the age of twenty-three or so. Injections of copious amounts of antibiotics in my gluteal cheeks was much more preferable to me than under going The Knife!

Then there are times when choice is not an option; for real fear of dying.

Three weeks into my freshman year of high school I turned fourteen. Shortly thereafter I developed acute appendicitis. The cause of this, I was certain for the next 10+ years, was the fact that my mother "made" me eat a whole can of tomato soup.
Me: Mom, I'm going to cook some tomato soup.
Mom: It's late, almost your bedtime and I don't want a mess in the kitchen this late.
Me: I'm hungry and I'll clean up the mess.
Mom: If you open a can of soup you'd better eat the whole can.
Me: I only want one bowl and some crackers.
Mom: All or none young man!

Three hours later I was in the ER and an hour after that I was going into the OR. The Demerol had calmed my fear of dying. In fact the pain was so bad before the Demerol, I was wishing for death just to find relief.

The nurse anesthetist injected me, through an intravenous line, with Sodium Pentothol while at the same time distracting me by talking about my job as a paper boy. Thank God for the Pentothol; at least I didn't have to breath the ether to go to sleep, but ether is what kept me asleep for the duration of the operation. Needless to say I woke up. I woke up puking my guts out.

Besides coming out of the ordeal alive and well, getting mucho-beaucoup presents, having two adult room mates who kept me in stitches (laughing) everyday for the entire week I was a patient, I found a wonderful appreciation for student nurses!


Blogger Rob Kistner said...

Hospitals can be lifesavers...

...but -- I do remember well having my tonsils taken out while under ether. I was five years old and still remember it vividly -- it was so traumatic. It was a horrifying experience. The smell was beyond terrible.

I drifted in and out of awareness and could see everything -- but it looked like a bizarre movie, but as though it were a negative print of the movie instead of a positive print.

People were distorted and terrifying, and I remember my ears ringing constantly -- a god-awful horrible experience!

1:12 PM  
Blogger Churlita said...

So, that's where your student nurse appreciation came from...

Unfortunately, my daughter had meningitis at 5 years old and to this day, is not all that fond of hospitals. Who can blame her?

6:36 PM  
Anonymous colleen said...

That's funny about the soup. After 10 years you stop believing it was the cause?

8:33 PM  
Blogger tumblewords said...

Ah, these events all ring bells at this place - except the tomato soup and that had me laughing in agreement even though I know it's IMPOSSIBLE. Isn't it?

8:44 PM  
Anonymous UL said...

"visit someone who was dying" or terminally ill, how true - that's always the general notion. I dreaded hospitals for the same reason. My outlook took a one eighty degree turn two years ago, when my daughter was born prematurely at twenty nine weeks, she is a perfectly healthy little girl now, thank heavens, also thanks to those at the NICU who nursed her back into health. Since then I see hospitals slightly differently, postively.

9:07 PM  
Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

Stay away from that tomato soup! ;)

9:20 PM  
Blogger Lucy said...

haha cute post Rem! Let me ask you... Can you even look at tomato soup? Glad your lived through surgery!! :)
(also thanks for your nice comment today)

10:50 PM  
Blogger Gemma said...

Thanks for telling us about Tomato bad I love the stuff!

9:10 AM  
Blogger Pen and the Sword said...

That is crazy and yet so informative. Ether and tomato soup... wow.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous gautami tripathy said...

So I must stop consuming tomato soup. I eat a lot of it!!

12:49 PM  
Blogger Patois said...

Not being a tomato soup fan myself, I can see how it would have necessitated a trip to the hospital. A lovely tale.

6:11 PM  

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