06 April 2023

A Hospital is No Place for Sick People

My husband was in the hospital a couple of weeks ago for a few days - and while it was very scary, he is back home now, and doing better than he has for a long time.  I spent most of the time there with him (which is why I didn't comment on everyone's posts, my apologies), because God knows everyone in a hospital needs an advocate to listen to what everyone's saying and to write it down.  When you're undergoing treatments and changes in medications and constant barrage of doctors, nurses, and physical therapists, it's easy to lose track of what's going on unless someone will take notes.  That's me!

But there were quiet times, like when he was asleep and there weren't any nurses around, and my mystery mind went into high gear with a few ideas, such as what crimes can be committed in a hospital with witnesses able to come in at any moment? Not to mention cameras and all this machinery that beeps and bings if you so much as look at it? And medication that is carefully rationed and doled out? 

As a visitor / family member, I came to the conclusion that it's hard.  Oh, there are some things that are possible. For example, a hospital is not a "fine and private place", and family, visitors, and God knows who are always wandering the halls.  So who knows what they could pick up in other rooms under the guise of "recognizing" someone and popping in to say hello?  Especially in a rural area, where everyone knows everyone else, and it would be natural to see how old Mrs. Warmbly is doing.  The staff (who are rarely local) doesn't necessarily know that Mrs. Warmbly is the most hated woman in town.  That opens up a whole vista of plot twists, doesn't it?  

Now if you're medical personnel, a lot is possible.  Most nurses, orderlies, etc., are the greatest people on earth, and doctors are not only mostly fantastic (if unintelligible because they will use long medical terms for everything and expect you to understand it) but simply don't have the time to do much evil, even if they were so inclined.  

And yet it does happen.  There's a certain amount of drug addiction in the medical profession, because there's a lot of access.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak...  There have been cases of abuse, usually when the patient is mentally and physically incapacitated.  

And there are some cases where you wonder why it isn't done more often.  There was a man across the hall from my husband's room who spent most of his time screaming at the nurses and staff.  He wasn't going to take those meds.  He wasn't going to drink that stuff - "If I do that I'll piss all over the bed!" And when the nurse suggested a Depends, he went into a web of profanity that could have sopped up a quart of anything.  He didn't like the food, he didn't want to go for a walk, he wasn't going to do therapy, he wanted, he didn't, he wouldn't....  I learned just about everything about this man except why he thought being a complete jerk would get him what he wanted.  And how the medical staff kept from killing him...

And, of course, there's a lot of mysteries and thrillers set in hospitals.  The first one I ever read was Robin Cook's Coma, which still scares the hell out of me.  It was also made into a movie, starring Genevieve Bujold, and directed by Michael Crichton, who wrote (among other things) The Andromeda Strain.  Oh, and I really wouldn't recommend checking into a hospital after watching Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital.

Or even 1971's The Hospital, written by Paddy Chayefsky and starring George C. Scott, Diana Rigg, and a cast-against-type Barnard Hughes.  Razor sharp script, gallows-humor farce, and yes, it's over the top, but what else would you expect from the author of Network and Altered States?  

BTW, I love all three of those movies.  Peter Finch was unforgettable in Network, and Altered States was the debut of William Hurt and Drew Barrymore.  BTW, Paddy Chayefsky hated the way Ken Russell filmed his complex dialog, having the actors say their lines while making coffee, eating, walking from room to room - but I loved it.  It was one of the first times that I saw "real people" talking in the movies.

Also, when it comes to movies, you can say what you like, but whenever you want something that will drown you in words, music, and delirium without drugs, watch a Ken Russell movie.  Over the top?  Hell yes.  Fantastic?  Very often, yes:  Altered States, Women in Love, The Devils, The Music Lovers (which outed Richard Chamberlain long before he ever outed himself), Tommy...  

And, speaking of over the top, let's not forget Robert Altman's M.A.S.H., the ultimate black comedy anti-war movie - that undoubtedly couldn't be made in this day and age for all kinds of reasons - which ended up being one of the most beloved TV shows in history (11 seasons, and the finale is still the most highly rated show EVER).  BTW, Altman despised the TV series, calling it "the antithesis of what we were trying to do" with the movie.  (Wikipedia)

Besides being one hell of a comedy, M.A.S.H. was a groundbreaker.  From the loudspeaker announcements (which often broke through the 4th wall), to the theme song Suicide is Painless (read the lyrics some time), and vignettes that verge on the blasphemous (the Last Supper for Painless' suicide) - it's quite a ride.  If you haven't seen it for a while, take it out for a spin.  It's good.  And it's 1970 summed up in one movie.

BTW - M.A.S.H., Network, and The Hospital all won Oscars for Best Screenplay.


  1. I'm glad your husband is home and better and that you are back at the computer!

  2. Great job Eve. Yes, I am out of the hospital and trying to get better. What some people will do to inspire a blog post. You are an awesome lady and I love your writing.

  3. Elizabeth Dearborn06 April, 2023 15:28

    Yeah. These days when one or both of us have medical appointments, I carry around a plastic folder containing a subset of my husband's & my medical records. Today he had pacemaker clinic, next week podiatry, orthopedics, & other stuff. A doctor at a hospital I worked in years ago, murdered his wife because of alleged infidelity. He was convicted & after several years in prison requested a shorter sentence but this was denied.


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