Archive | 7:30 pm

For once, I’m not the one in the hospital!

14 Jul

I’ve spent a decent amount of time familiarizing myself with the Emergency Room in DC over the last two years, between getting hit by a car, having my leg do some random swelling thing, and thinking I had appendicitis. Based on my experience there, I assumed all hospitals were a flurry of activity, with nurses racing around, EMTs wheeling people in on stretchers and Code Blues being called over the PA.

So this morning, when Alan, my friend Kelly and I went to the VA Hospital in Ann Arbor to visit a classmate who wasn’t able to attend our reunion last night, I felt like I was in The Twilight Zone. The hospital was practically empty, with gates stretched over corridors and a closed sign hanging over the window of the gift shop. We walked the entire length of the building and got up to the fifth floor with only encountering ONE person.

It very much felt like we were in that television show The Walking Dead, where only zombies and a handful of humans populate the Earth.

Adding to the creep factor? The one person we saw standing behind the information desk when we entered the building. I approached him and asked, “How would we find out where our friend is and if she can receive visitors?”

He glanced up from whatever he was doing but made no move to the computer. “What the last name?”

“Allen,” I said. Without breaking eye contact, he said, “She’s up on 5 North.”

“SHUSH!” I exclaimed, causing him to stop speaking. (I didn’t remember this but Alan pointed it out after the fact because it was rude but the guy DID shush.) “How were you able to do that, without looking at a computer or anything?”

“I’m the chaplain,” he explained. “I’ve been up a few times to visit her, but she’s had doctors in there every time I go by.”

At the time it seemed like magic, but that was before we walked through the abandoned building and realized it was like a card trick where there’s really only ever one card that can be pulled. With seemingly no other patients, of course he knew who she was and where her room was. In retrospect, I’m a bit disappointed that he didn’t head us off at the pass by greeting us with, “Your friend is on Five North,” before we even asked. I mean, I’m pretty sure she’s the ONLY patient in the place.

After we found her, we asked if she needed anything to make her stay better. Candy? Books? Magazines? She shook her head, then relented, “Actually, some kind of mindless gossip magazine like People would be great.” Alan seized on the opportunity to go scout for one, leaving Kelly and me to chat with her in private.

Some ten minutes later, Alan reappeared, holding a book and a magazine. “Looks like you were successful,” I commented, before seeing what he’d actually retrieved.

At least it wasn’t this…

“Actually, the gift store was closed,” he said. Sheepishly, he held out his bounty. A Smithsonian Magazine and a Ken Follet novel. “But I found these in the waiting room so I thought they might work.”

Well, so much for reading about TomCat’s divorce. More like the fall of Rome. Which, I suppose, is probably better reading for someone in a VA hospital anyway. Good thing we didn’t go looking for games – probably would’ve only located Battleship and Stratego.

Now I’m wondering what the cafeteria serves. MREs?