I recently spent the night in hospital and this experience has taught me a few life lessons that I thought I would share with you. Actually it really reminded me of these lessons that I should never have forgotten.
1. Always wear your good underwear. No matter what.
I never expected on that Sunday morning as I prepared for church that I would be leaving the house and not coming back until the following afternoon. The service we go to is fairly early in the morning so Sunday mornings are usually spent scrambling to get out the door on time (not an easy feat with 3 kids in tow). Not much thought goes into my outfits and especially not my underwear. It's basically whatever is clean and within arms reach.
Now I know the stereotype is that men never ever throw out their old underwear but come on girls, we all know we do it too. There's that pair that just always feel real comfortable when you just want to slouch around the house. Then there's the half a dozen pairs that you save for use at “that” time of the month, there are just some days when the lacy barely theres just will not do right? Then there's the ones that have totally busted elastic and even (shock, horror) holes, that you just can't bring yourself to throw away for reasons not known, even to yourself.
That morning I had pulled on the last of my “ok to wear in a pinch” holey underpants and as well as being many many years old and rather threadbare they were also rather skimpy due to them having been bought in a time when my bottom was significantly smaller.
My bras were in an even worse state than my underpants. I had yet to find a brand that fitted me and felt as comfortable as my old brands in New Zealand. What had happened was that I had worn maternity bras (not known for their uplifting qualities) for quite some time and then tried out several different brands none of which turned out to be “the one”. My bra drawer was half maternity/nursing bras (now much too large) and half ill fitting excuses for bras some of which had lost just one under-wire and one bra that actually fit and did a half decent job of keeping me symmetrical and in place. It was this one bra (which was on its last legs) that I was wearing that day.
I had been experiencing some chest pains for a few days and James decided that rather than go home after church that day he would take me straight to the emergency room. The first thing they wanted to do was put a whole lot of stickers all over me and check out my heart. To do this they had me remove all my clothes from the waist up. Fortunately I was able to remove my threadbare bra and hide it inside my shirt while the technician stepped out of the room. He was soon back though and when it was time to transfer me to a room in the ER he scooped up my clothes and I am sure was horrified at the state of my very aged lingerie.
I was hooked up to all kinds of monitoring machines and had all kinds of blood tests and x-rays and things. All this happened while I sat on a bed dressed from the waist down but from the waist up wearing only a hospital gown. Eventually they decided that they wanted me to stay for the night so that they could do a stress test in the morning. They wheeled me through the hospital up to a room in the cardiac ward which seemed to be populated by much more elderly patients than I. Fortunately I was given a room with no roommate so I had more privacy than most.
The helpful nurse thought that I would be more comfortable if I got the rest of my clothes off and slipped into a pair of hospital pants, the kind that the doctors and nurses wear. Unfortunately for me the hospital pants are not designed for the shapely woman and even the most enormous size they had would not fit without pinching and squeezing me so tight that it was not at all comfortable. I gave up on them and decided that just the gown would be enough. The gown, however, was not really what you would call 'full coverage'. It had the customary opening in the back and some of the ties were missing so only one tie in the middle of my back held it together. I figured I wasn't going to be prancing around the ward since they still had me hooked up to all sorts of machines and drips so I wasn't too worried. I had the blanket they had given me for the bed.
I was told that in the morning I would be taken to do a stress test. Basically you have to run on a treadmill for a certain period of time and they monitor your heart while you do it. They suggested that I have James get me my gym clothes and shoes from home. James got back with these items too late as you will see in my next lesson below.
The nurse who was getting me ready for the test helpfully suggested that I wear a second “johnny”, as they call them here in the US, (anyone from the UK I apologise and get your mind out of the gutter!!) backwards so that the opening is at the front. This was very effective in covering the gaping in the back of the underneath gown but not before flashing my barely covered bottom to both the nurse and the heart test technician.
They gave me a pair of fluffy socks to wear that had treads on the bottom in the hopes that would be enough traction for me on the treadmill. I was then wheeled through the hospital to the special treadmill room. There the technician had to hook me up with different stickers all over my chest. I ended up being completely bare from the waist up while she did this. I was acutely aware that my underarms were unshaven, my boobs were seriously drooping (poor things) and that several new spare tyres had materialised overnight round my middle.
As I started running on the treadmill I could feel the air whipping through the ultra long leg hairs that I had failed to shave off and due to the lack of any kind of supportive undergarment certain body parts (actually most of my body) were wobbling and jiggling in a most alarming way. It was quite mortifying really. Add all this to the fact that I do not typically run and was now being forced to (the alternative being to fly off the back of the treadmill) while attached via many many wires to the front of the machine. The speed of the treadmill kept increasing gradually as the test went on, as did the incline. I did my best to keep up but eventually they had to stop the test early declaring my heart to be in fine shape but my body in need of a bit of work. I saw the print out of what my heart had been doing that whole time and honestly if I had been the doctor I would have had serious concerns given the erratic way it was beating.
I then had all the wires taken off (requiring more exposure of now sweaty body parts) and was wheeled back to my room where James had arrived with my gym gear.
At this time I was told that it would be ok for me to have a wash and get dressed if I liked. I liked that idea very much since my attire was now two hospital gowns with my extremely hairy legs poking out the bottom.
I eyed up the bag of goodies James had gathered up for me like it was candy and opened the zip. He had dutifully brought my gym shoes and socks along with one of my gym bras and a t shirt and some track pants. He had also brought me some underpants and several random items of clothing that I seriously had forgotten I owned, much less wore or even fitted anymore.
I looked at the underpants he had picked out and realised that they must have been stuffed in the back of my drawer for decades (not literally since we've moved many times) but seriously I don't even know how they made it from NZ to the USA when we moved because they hadn't fitted properly in years. Why would I even pack them? I had no choice but to put them on but it was most uncomfortable.
I got dressed the best I could and we waited for the discharge papers to be completed. I figured we would just walk out together but they had one last surprise in store for me that day. I was not allowed to walk out of the hospital, I had to be wheeled out in a wheelchair. By a volunteer who honestly could have been my grandfather. As he pushed me out and called out greetings to everyone that he passed by I couldn't help wondering if it wouldn't be faster if I had him get in the wheelchair and I push. We arrived at the front entrance and there were a bunch more of these elderly volunteers and I just wanted the ground to swallow me up right then and there. I was sure any one of them could keel over at any moment and need the wheelchair more than me.
A while after we got home I went through my underwear drawers. I actually threw out all the ones that didn't fit or had defects. I moved all the maternity bras to a box to go up on a high shelf (you never know when I might need them again) and I threw out the ones that were just never going to fit or had become worn out. I found a brand of bra that I like and purchased enough of them to keep me uplifted for quite some time and for quite a few laundry days. I bought enough new underpants to fill up my drawer again. I did keep one of my old pairs just because they are so darned comfortable even if you can shoot peas through them. But only one pair.
I am happy to say that the only underwear dilemma I have now is what colour to put on. I am becoming used to the slightly overwhelmed feeling I get when I open the drawer and am met by bunches of underpants that have no flaws thereby making my decision making process more about how I feel and less about the logic behind wearing pants whose particular flaws made them suitable on some days but not others. For example, before if I had pants that tended to pinch in the leg then I would rule them out on days when I had lots of walking to do.
Because of my unexpected hospital visit we were unprepared for what to do with the children while all this was going on. We initially had them all with us at the hospital while I was in the ER but James had to take them out when all the blood drawing started happening so that it wouldn't scar them for life.
He had called his parents and they were on their way to stay with the kids at our house. James' mum was already going to be spending part of her week at our house so that she could work nearby so it really just meant coming a little earlier than planned.
Fortunately this was the case or I can't even imagine what state the house might have been in at that time. All I can say is that it was with great relief that I realised that I had the house in pretty good order and that there wasn't too much to be embarrassed by when it came to my housekeeping. But it served as a good reminder to me to have things in fairly good shape at all times. Just in case.
Imagine if rather than it being James going through my drawers to find clothes for me it was one of my friends? How embarrassing would it be for them to have to decide between the threadbare undies or the ones that were obviously too small? Of course if that had been the case a woman would probably think to go through the clean laundry in search of the most recently worn items (therefore most likely to fit) rather than taking them from the back recesses of the drawer.
In any case its always a good thing to remember to be prepared for anything at all times. Speaking of which I really must go now and tidy the house just in case visitors should stop by because right now I'd be embarrassed!!