9 Things I Learned from the Hospital

While the rest of Austin was in the throws of South by Southwest, I had the pleasure experiencing America’s health care in action instead. Insanely, I caught pneumonia and ended up in the hospital for a couple (six) days. I’m well on my way to better thanks to some powerful antibiotics, but here’s what I learned during my sick-vacation:

1. Hospital Food: Better but Not Gourmet – You “order” your meals from a menu from Head Chef who comes by in the morning, which makes it seem fancy. There are specials like Alaskan Salmon and Chicken Fajitas, but fruit still comes from a can and desserts still barely edible. It’ salt-less and sugar-free, but meal time is a major highlight of your day: 7:30am, 12pm and 5pm on the dot.

2. Hospital Show Set False Expectations – Why aren’t there tons of doctors in lab coats running around like on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘ER’? I probably saw a total of three doctors the whole time, and rarely more than once a day.

3. Jeremy Wade is a Badass – You’ll watch an insane amount of television in the hospital. hat River Monsters is my new favorite show, and the host is my new idol. With that said, Animal Planet is still mostly a channel for cat ladies and should be avoided.

4. Make Friends with the Nurses – I quickly learned that if you have a good nurse, you’ll be much happier for it! I’m chatty and made friends with Nurse Angie, who went out of her way to get me “upgraded” to a nicer room. It was a quiet flat-screen TV, wood floors, a couch and table, not to mention a much better bathroom situation (upgraded features). Also, there are different levels of hospital rooms?

5. Bring Your Own Extension Cord I was grateful to have all my toys to stave off the cabin fever (laptop, iPad, etc.), but there was a serious shortage of outlets close to the bed. Am I supposed to unplug the IV machine to charge my phone?

6. Let Your Mom Take Care of You – As cheesy as it sounds, your mom is still the best doctor. There’s seriously nothing like her cooking to make you feel like new again, and I was so glad to have her around to take care of me.

7. Austin Needs More Hospitals – According to the nurses there’s a major shortage of hospital beds in Central Texas, and that most area hospitals are at capacity at any given time. Not shocking, I know.

8. How to Avoid Waiting in the ER – Everyone knows ERs are horrible, but my doctor sent me to the Heart Hospital of Austin, which is apparently not just for hearts. This is an open secret in Austin, so the ER’s usually empty and I did not have to wait around for care. Highly recommended!

9. Hospitals are Full of Old People – No, I mean really old. Maybe it was a heart hospital thing, but I was told by one of the nurses that I was the only one my floor under 50. Walking around, though, most seemed over 75 at least.

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About Zac Macinnes
#studyabroad champion at @TrinityCollege. Austin native. Connecticut address. Global perspective. #Bikes, #politics, #intled, #transit, day trips & far-flung adventures.

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