Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Say "Ahhhhhh"

     Most men avoid doctor appointments like the plague. I’m no different. Unfortunately, like an old car with a lot of miles on the odometer, it seems that we all begin to require some engine work after we pass the 100,000-mile point. Sometimes we need a mechanic to check under the hood. A recent knee replacement generated a few random thoughts.

            Hospitals are confusing.  With people walking through hospital halls in green surgical gowns and matching dust covers on shoes and head, you don’t know who’s who anymore.  I’ve addressed male nurses as “doctor” and female doctors as “nurse”, most likely insulting some and raising the bar for others.

            And everyone wears a stethoscope around his or her neck. The stethoscope used to be a clue as to who the real doctor was. Kind of like a badge on a cop.  But now everyone has one of these things.  Even the parking attendant wears a stethoscope.

            Actors dressed as doctors for TV commercials have stethoscopes hanging around their necks. That’s about as authentic as a “rent-a-cop” bringing a radar gun to church.

            When some people see someone with a stethoscope approaching, they automatically roll up their sleeve, offer their arm, and look for a place to sit down.

            A stethoscope is a powerful symbol in our culture. I would be willing to bet that if a doctor wears a stethoscope when dining out, the waiter will bring extra bread to the table.

            Aside from a single night in the hospital costing as much as the first house you bought, the personal indignities are worse. I don’t know who came up with those little robes that tie in the back, but they never go all the way around. At least they don’t go all around me.

            The popular fad of “mooning” was born in a hospital when a “robed” patient dropped his health card and bend over to pick it up. Those gowns can make modest people walk sideways like a crab with their back to the wall, while the less modest take the opportunity to make a bold statement. I have a friend with delusions of grandeur who wears the gown backwards.

            Another thing…someone should contact the Department of Weights and Measures to check the scales in doctor’s offices.  Every one of them weighs you ten pounds or more over your scale at home.  I tell them that my clothes weigh forty pounds, but they never seem to believe me.

            After the scale trauma you are ushered into a small room where you wait patiently while sitting on a paper-covered table.  The charts on the wall tell you more than you want to know about the intricacies of your body.

            If the doctor shines that little light in your ear and it shines out of the opposite ear, you probably believe that those miraculous intricacies of the human body just happened by chance.

            Now that I think about it, I have a stethoscope for checking blood pressure around here somewhere. I think I’ll wear it the next time we go out to dinner. It could help me get a better table at the restaurant, but I sure don’t need any extra bread. 

            And as for fashionable hospital patient attire, no one should be forced to do the crab-crawl with their back to the wall while wearing nothing but that backless hospital gown. A guy could make a fortune selling underpants in a place like that.


  1. Having just spent a couple of days in the hospital I can relate to this. I beat the system, though. My wife brought in my boxer pajamas! No one was going to see my "mail slot"!!!!

    Worse though, is when it is finally time to go to sleep! Every employee in the hospital working nights wants to come in your room and ask "why are you here"? They don't ever turn out the lights when they leave!

    Then, of course, you are all hooked up to these different wires and suddenly you have to pee! You ever try and hit a little bottle that you can not even see? Good Luck!

    Maybe it is just better to stay home & "moan"!

    1. You're right. One of the ironies is that at night every time you fall asleep for ten minutes someone comes in, wakes you up, checks your pulse, and tells you to get some sleep.

  2. It's obvious from your writing Ralph that you are not a flasher.

    This was a very good subject and right on the money. You really do not know any longer who is treating you.

    My son had gone to a walk in clinic for an extreme sinus infection, and was given antibiotics.

    When there seemed to be no healing evolving, he decided to read that three plus pages of prescription information that comes with all medication from the pharmacy. When all was said and done the 'so called dr' was a Physician's Assistant (PA), and he prescribed antibiotics for an urinary infection. OOPS!

    Now I don't know if medicine has a road map on what part of the body to go to based on their ingredients, but it must know somehow.

    So you not only have to ask the person treating you what type of credentials they have, but check the medication also.

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    2. Sharon - I guess I was lucky that they didn't do a hysterectomy on me instead of a knee replacement.

  3. Ralph....
    I think the worst time I had was when I was in a re-hab center following my bypass surgery. Everyone in the place got a virus, resulting in the place being quarantined. I finally got it and woke up in the middle of the night feeling sick. I rang for someone to come and when they finally did I tried to explain that I was going to vomit. Not speaking English, the aide looked at me like HUH? I couldn't get through to her, so I puked all over myself and the bed. Needless to say, she got the idea although a little late. On top of that my chest felt like I had snapped all the wires holding me together. Ah, life can be exciting.

    1. Holy cow, Bob. Even laughing hurts, based on my experience with family and friends who have been through that. Vomiting must rip you apart.

  4. Actually, I did find out an answer for being sure that your "south side" is covered!

    Wear your gown backwards!

    Then common sense took over! Thank goodness!!!!