Hospital Time

It’s hospital month, apparently. One weekend with my sister who sliced her finger, the next with my daughter struggling to breathe (bronchiolitis, poor thing). I’ve now visited seven hospitals in the Perth metro area this year, four in the past two weeks. That’s a record for me.

The problem I have with hospitals is the way that time moves there. It becomes this unpredictable thing, one moment crawling along like a meandering snail, the next zipping past faster than you can catch it. Time is deliberately mischievous, too, speeding up for those brief moments of doctor attention so you can’t understand or remember half of what was said, and slowing down terribly for those hours and hours of waiting in between. Test it yourself, next time you are in a medical institution. Give up staring at the clock for ten minutes to people watch, stare at the random paintings, or pass the time with mindless tv, and when you check the clock again only thirty seconds will have passed.

Then there’s the problem of uncertainty. When will you be seen? It’s Murphy’s Law that if you leave your waiting post for even a moment, that you’ll be called in. But if you sit there crossing your legs because the doctor will be “any minute now”, eventually it’s forty-five minutes later and you no longer need to use the bathroom but you feel kind of sick and you really don’t want to move, called in or not.

Of course there’s the days when you leave deliberately early to get to an appointment, arrive and wait three times as long as normal to be seen. But at the next appointment when you deliberately arrive right on time… you find out the doctor isn’t coming, or even worse that daylight savings switched over last night and you’re an hour too late.

There should be precautionary appointments set aside for that.

I spent forty-three hours in hospitals in the past eight days. Actual medical activity took up maybe three hours of that time. Where did the rest of it go? Is it stored somewhere I can use it in the future? Because I definitely did nothing with all that waiting. It has become a black hole of Hospital Time. Oh, boredom and impatience and worrying and mindless daytime tv shows went round and round, but the sum of all this was, for me, nothing useful at all. I tried to take something with me to fill the spaces somewhat, but forces conspired against me to ever do anything productive. I blame the atmosphere. Medical institutions dampen my creativity and turn me into a turtle sitting in a corner, silent and motionless, waiting.

Just. Waiting.

I need to get this figured out before next week. I’ve got an operation coming up on Monday. And I really don’t want to face another twelve hours of mind-numbing boredom peppered with brief bursts of aesculapian activity. Plus recovery.

So my question is, what do you all do while in hospital to keep entertained?

Armchairs by okanv on

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