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Judy Spooner: After two weeks, 'back on the beat'

A hospital is not a bad place to be during a tornado warning.

The second-floor staff at Regina Medical Center in Hastings has just moved me from my hospital bed to a chair in the interior hallway. Being inside a big stone building during a tornado? It works for me.

You might be wondering why I wrote a column while hospitalized. I had a bout with an intestinal blockage and related stuff that knocked me flat on July 2. After some great treatment, I was released on July 16.

People complain about hospital food, but you can't get me to testify one way or the other. But that bowl of oatmeal I had at noon on July 14 tasted like a T-bone steak.

That came after days on end of meals that began with ice chips as an appetizer and main entrée with ice chipé for dessert. (I made the dessert sound like French so you wouldn't think it was just the same old ice chips.)

Along with ice chip meals, several things about a hospital stay are universal when you're a patient. One is allowed to wear only a "gown" that should not be confused with a dress bought to wear to a prom.

With a design that hasn't changed since Florence Nightingale ministered to the sick in the 1800s, a gown is open to the back. Rows of snaps connect and detach at the shoulders to accommodate intravenous tubes and various machines. All gowns are made from the same fabric and come in two sizes, ones that are too big and those that are bigger than that.

Getting the gown snapped with the correct snap lineup is harder than it looks. If you need a robe to cover your backside, you get a second gown and wear it with the open end to the front.

Gary suggested he get a wheelchair to take me outside to enjoy a summer evening. Hospitals should offer tips on wheelchair operations, especially how to steer them.

Gary's unconscious programming told him that, similar to those times when you get an errant cart at the grocery store, just jam it ahead over any obstacles such as door sills.

Soon my five intravenous bags of liquid were swinging back and forth threatening to break free.

A man who looks like Santa Claus pushing a lady in a wheelchair at alarming speeds in the parking lot drew attention from workers leaving the hospital.

By the time we returned to my room, all the computerized pumps were beeping.

Without threatening to take away my outdoor privileges, my nurse, Karen, quieted the pumps.

My hospital stay has convinced me there is more to healing than getting the right treatment.

To Tony, Heather, Julie, Kristi, Amber and Amy, who gave words of assurance and helped me through it all, thank you.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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