The Hospital: Day 1 (Part 1)

July 19, 2005

Check in time. My mom, aunt, and sister came to get us early this morning, about 6 AM. We took a few pictures of my neck and tongue, as a sort of “before” record – plus, the gross out factor of the tongue is good, and my sister (who used to want to go into medicine) liked that very much.

The sunrise was very beautiful, and naturally, this being Florida and all, it was already 100 degrees outside and humid. I was prepared in my sweats and t-shirt, and carried nothing at all with me. My mom took care of my id and phone, my sister took my gym bag, which had clean clothes and a toothbrush.

Once at the hospital, we checked in at admitting and then went up to the pre-op area, where we waited with the other suckers – I mean, patients – who were also there for early appointments. The check-in nurse presented me with a pager like those you get at restaurants, about the size of a large coaster. Table for one? Every so often, it would generate a high pitched single beep. I suppose that’s so they can find the damn things if someone leaves it in a chair or under a newspaper or something as they ready themselves for what lies ahead. The waiting room was very, very quiet and not uncomfortably cold or warm. Anyone who has spent time in large facilities knows what a treat this is, since there always seems to be a pocket of air where you regret not bringing your parka and another nearby where you feel like you’re on the surface of the sun.

I did not get the joy of being buzzed for the gurney that awaited me, as the check-in nurse called the waiting room and had the assistant let me know it was time. We walked back to the surgical holding area. My mom gave me one last word. “Whenever they do something, ask them what it is and make sure they check your wristband so they know you are you.” Yes, ma’am.

The holding area looks like any standard emergency room you see on television, without the chaos that is usually associated with trauma emergencies. Like the waiting room, it was quiet, with the occasional beeping of monitors and the ringing of the phone the only noise other than the murmur of staff talking to patients and one another. The nurse took me back to the last screen on the right, where I was given a bag for my belongings and told to strip to the skin. On the gurney were little paper booties for my feet, a paper hair net to keep my flowing locks (ha) out of everything, and a cloth gown that I was told opens in the back – like this wouldn’t be common knowledge from all the jokes made about peoples’ butts hanging out of the things.

Once suitably attired for my waiting table, I crawled onto the gurney and the interrogations began.

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