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The Worst Place To Get Sick? In A Hospital!

May 6, 2014

Oww! My stomach. I think we’d better go to the emergency room.

My wife and I had been on a date. We’d had a nice dinner and gone to see a movie. . .all without kids, and we were just about to head home when the attack started.

I’d had appendicitis. . well, not exactly appendicitis, they thought it was when I went to the emergency room, but after cutting me open they discovered it was Crohns Disease, although years later they thought it couldn’t have been Crohns, since I got better and Crohns is incurable, but my original doctor swears it was, but none of this has much to do with my wife going to the ER. Except to say that her pain seemed an awful lot like appendicitis. . .or Crohns. . .but probably appendicitis.

Naturally, when a woman comes in doubled over in pain and she’s not pregnant, the hospital wants to do lots of tests. And then they do some more tests. And then they go back and do some of the first tests again just to be sure.

We were there a long time. It was already late when we arrived and the tests continued past midnight and several hours into the early morning. I fell asleep in a chair in the hallway. And that was how I injured myself.

You would think that a hospital is an excellent place to get sick. It’s not.

While serving as a missionary in Chicago in the early 1980’s my missionary companion and I went to the hospital to interpret for a deaf woman who was pregnant. Yes, that interpreting assignment was just as awkward for two 20 year old young men as it sounds like.

But, what was worse, was they were showing a birthing film in the lobby. There was nothing much else to do while waiting so we watched the film.

Big mistake.

Remember when I said I had Crohns disease as a kid? Yeah, well I was really sick for a lot of years and I developed PTSD symptoms around blood. And as you might imagine a birthing film has a lot of blood. I started to feel like I was going to throw up.

I stood up and headed for the restroom. About half way there I passed out. Fortunately, I turned as I fell and the back of my head hit the marble floor and not my face.

But hey, we’re in a hospital right? How convenient!

Nope. They did every test you could imagine. They didn’t believe it was simply a reaction to the blood in the film. Five hours they kept me. The deaf woman was long gone home. Finally, I told the doctor

I’m leaving.

You can’t leave until you are signed out.

Then you’d better get the discharge papers pretty quick because I’m leaving right now.

The papers were quickly produced and I learned two important lessons. First, no more birthing films for me. I didn’t even see much of my own kids birth. I figured that’s what we paid the doctor for. And second, a hospital is a terrible place to get injured.

So, at about 2:00am the nurse came and told me that they were getting ready to discharge my wife. Well, the nurse woke me and then told me. I’d been passed out in the chair for hours with my legs crossed, right over left.

I did okay with the first step. It was my left foot. There was something definitely wrong with my right foot though. It was totally asleep. To compensate, I made sure to lift my leg high enough to step forward with that foot.

I almost made it.

My entire weight came down on foot as my toes were still pointed behind me. A heard a very loud CRACK and I fell down.

Fortunately, there were no hospital people around. I quickly picked myself up and limped to my wife’s room. She was fine, BTW. Problem with her gallbladder. They took it out a few months later.

Sitting in her room, I started to go into shock. I didn’t recognize it as shock. But, I knew I couldn’t get warm and I had terrible shakes. Finally, I staggered over to the bed next to hers laid down and pulled the blanket over me.

We should tell the doctor.


But, you broke your foot!

I don’t care. We’ve been here too long already. I’m just going to get a little warmer and then we can go.

Are you sure?

Yes. I’m not staying in the hospital a minute longer than we need to.

Okay, it was stupid on my part. I bought a heavy-duty foot brace and wore it for the next 5 months. Even today my foot occasionally twinges if I step just wrong.

I think about that hospital trip sometimes and think about our computer systems. Engineering Discipline is the process of documenting your system and following a process for making changes. Engineers are eternal optimists. Some of them are like me in the hospital. They will make do with a broken system rather than take the time to go back and fix the underlying problem.

Every time I’ve tried that I end up with my foot in a brace for five months. But, I think I’ve gotten better about it over the years.

And I quit breaking things while in a hospital.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.

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  1. I remember when you transferred to Anaheim. The day you flew in, it was nearly a hundred degree difference in the outside temperature between the O’Hare and John Wayne airports. Only 2 days after your arrival, our zone had previously committed to donate blood. You tried to demur, but somehow went along. When they stuck you (or was it me?), I never saw anyone turn so green so fast, and pass out. I couldn’t help you ‘cuz I was already hooked up, Somehow we got you home afterwards, and really took it easy for the next week or so as you acclimated to SoCal’s climate.

    • Yeah, as I remember I said, “I’m just gonna lay my head down here on the cookie plate and res. . . .” They caught me before I hit the floor.

      And you had that “I donated 50 gallons of blood” pin. Quite the pair we made. LOL

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