Got To Love Your Hospital Gown
Remember the last time you were in hospital? Most of us go in now and then. If not to be treated, then to visit someone. Or, if you’re desperate, anyone really.
That’s when you’re confronted with all that hospital stuff.
Appendectomy. Discectomy. Headectomy. You name it. It’s all heck to me.
And the thing is, wherever you are, they’re the same. Pretty much.
Sure, some trumpet big budget private hospital glitz. With a hospital foyer looking like a Hyatt Hotel entrance. And porters, eager to grab your case and sit you gently down into a waiting wheelchair.
While others run under siege. With people lying on the floor, and on stretchers everywhere. While rats, the size of small cats, casually flit in and out of view, checking out what’s on the menu.
Okay, they are the extremes, I know. Most hospitals sit in the hey-diddle-diddle (that’s rhyming slang for the middle).
But whatever their standard, hospitals all have one thing in common. It’s that depersonalising thing. And if there’s one item that sums it up more than anything else, it’s the hospital gown.
Yep, the moment you’re told to put it on, you know. This is not about slipping into something more comfortable. Not even close.
On the front, a hospital gown fits you much like a potato sack. So of course, one size fits all. How convenient.
For the hospital.
Because, at the back, there isn’t much at all, except for your rear on show. Which is plainly disconcerting when you are expected to walk along hospital corridors. Clutching awkwardly onto the sides of your gaping gown to try to keep your modesty immediately reveals that you’re a newbie.
Give it a couple of days. Then you’ll be past caring and let it all hang loose.
Because it’s a hospital you can expect total strangers to come up to you and ask, “Have you evacuated your bowels today?” It’s all part of the depersonalisation process that leaves you feeling less like you and more like a flesh machine.
My initial attempts at levity, saying, “Oh sure, the evacuation thing. Yep. Well we managed to get the women and children out in time. But, sad to say the guys never made it” didn’t go down well.
In fact, I received a stony silence in reply. “Just answer the question”.
Step-by-step, you tentatively tiptoe down the passage of having your identity stripped away. Like the morning a perky nurse brings in your bedpan. Brandishing it like a trophy, to announce to the shared ward that it’s time for your pan.
Yay! That’s pan-freakin’ fantastic (and from that moment you will never consider the term ‘pan-fried’ as a positive feature EVER again.).
And let’s not even mention the fundamental surprise, shock, and denial you go through when the junior nurse walks in with a rubber hose to declare it’s time for your enema. Oh, and look, she brought along a couple of buckets. Wonder what they’re for…
Or, the orderly who pops round the corner with a shaver in hand. You know, to prepare your bushy bit for your coming operation.
By degrees, you lose your privacy. Forget Alexa listening in to your pillow talk. Or, your ding-dong fight in the kitchen and that broken plate. That’s nothing. Whereas, your hospital encounters are seriously intimate. And anyone who has ever gone into hospital for anything vaguely diabolical knows you’ve just got to grin and bear it.
Or should that be “bare it”?
Like when a specialist comes to your bed to fondle your genitals. What the?! Oh, I see. It’s a medical thing, huh? Sure. Happens all the time, does it?
Fearful of things being stuck into orifices you’d rather not offer? It’s all part of the hospital experience.
Having your toilet habits yelled across the ward from one Nurses Aid to another is standard. Like it’s some kind of greeting at your favourite restaurant. “Hey, Sally! Haven’t seen you in here for ages! Take a seat. How are your bowels? Hey, Jimmy? Set a table for one. Oh, and get this: Sally just had a huge bowel movement before now. Yep. Tell Joey in the Kitchen. He’ll ask how big it is. But if he asks Sally about her bladder, don’t even go there because she’s leaking a bit tonight, okay…”
After a few days of having your intimacy shredded to bits like this, you do get used to it. And you have to hand it to them because hospitals do it so well.
Even if they do say they want you to feel better.
And it’s why they get you wearing a bare-arsed dressing gown, while the hospital staff all dress up in uniforms.
So no more nonsense. Just get changed, and wait in this draughty hospital hallway until you’re told what to do. Then hop into bed and be a good patient. So the hospital can fix you.
Yep, slip on that hospital gown and enjoy your stay. Treat it like a humiliation vacation. The resort you stay in as a last resort. And, with a bit of luck, it won’t be.