I just spent five days in a hospital and the experience was indescribably ugly and nightmarish. I spent every minute of the five days waiting for the hour hand to make it's way twice around the clock, dreading the boredom and the extreme tortures to come. I had an extremely competent and experienced surgeon yet my advice to everyone reading this is, don't get major surgery if you can possibly avoid it. If you can't avoid it then have the surgery at the earliest possible time when the problem is relatively small. I remind the reader that we don't live in Captain Kirk's time when Bones the doctor can cure everything with what amounts to a flashlight. Our time is more like the Civil war when whiskey and amputation were the remedies. Surgery is still about all about violating your body, and causing pain. We're not really all that advanced.
Hospitals are crazy places. Everybody agrees that sleep is important to recovery, yet hospitals are one of the hardest places in the world to sleep. The staff keeps waking you up to give you pain pills to put you to sleep. Since those pills cause constipation, and since constipation prevents you from getting rid of the gas that accompanies surgery, pain and sleeplessness are actually guaranteed by the system.
Some nurses are angels of mercy that really care what happens to you. Others are martinets who will follow a regimen regardless of the consequences. I had to wear a catheter and I was constantly woken out of sleep by compulsive nurses who felt the need to "irrigate" it, i.e., put a big horse tranquilizing syringe into it and pump it to shake loose possible clots. The syringe causes searing, torturous pain by causing rapid change in the internal abdominal pressure. Once again, the justification for irrigation was that it would help patients sleep. After every irrigation I would stay awake for hours trying to shake off the horror of it all.
Francis Ford Cuppola called Vietnam the first rock and roll war because rock was so frequently present, even during firefights. In the same way, we live in the first ( or maybe the second) era of daytime TV medicine. Daytime TV is the constant background rhythm of hospitals. You may be dying, and your doctor may be struggling to figure out how to medicate, but you both have one ear glued to the TV so you can find out what Dr. Phil said about Oprah, or who the movie stars dated last night. Daytime TV gives me nausea. Does the world really need one more manicured, perky anchorwoman or one more executive-driven animated show with "tude?"
Of course real conversations happen, even in hospitals. My roommate, was a police officer and we got to talking about crime. I wondered out loud if criminals were really chronically unimaginative people, who just couldn't imagine the suffering they were causing to others. The policeman looked at me with stunned disbelief. His answer: "Real criminals aren't unimaginative. They're selfish and undisciplined. They want immediate satisfaction and would rather take the risk of killing a 7-11 clerk for 50 bucks than work a legal job for a day and make the same money risk-free. They live in an environment where crime is in the air and no other activity is admired or encouraged." I muttered something Hunter S. Thompson said about crime, and he brusquely made his apologies and closed the curtain securely around his bed. He just couldn't see the point in talking to a dilettante like myself who didn't know what he was talking about. He never opened it again. I knew from peaking that he spent the time reading Field and Stream magazine.
By the way, I'm a big booster of the police who, whatever their faults, risk their lives every day so the rest of us can be safe. I'm just not a fan of Field and Stream.