Besides my pure hatred of lime gelatin with grapes floating in it, I stay away from hospitals because they scare me.
My fear is based on a universal fact: Hospitals will kill you quicker than any disease.
It is, of course, not the intention of the hospital to kill you.
After all, there is the bill to think about, but a series of incompatible procedures will eventually cause your demise.
To explain my conclusion, I will use my last hospital visit as an example.
Some time ago, my family and I were camping.
At one point during the night, I was bitten by a black widow spider.
My wife rushed me to the emergency room.
The emergency room is where all the trouble begins when it comes to hospitals.
As soon as you clear the threshold, you hear those wonderfully comforting words spoken in every hospital in America: "Do you have insurance?" Because I was swollen to the approximate size of a 1979 Buick, all I could manage in response was "Gurag.
"They accepted this as a yes and took me to Triage.
Once I was in the Triage (literally translated "torture") room, fifteen nurses converged on me with whale harpoon sized needles and removed half of my blood supply.
Once the harpooners left, another ten nurses arrived to tell me that I would need to provide a urine sample.
I, of course, did not have to go at that point, but was able to produce a sample after they started talking about "manual retrieval" methods.
Another nurse would arrive and I would give her my complete medical history, including how often I clip my toenails and my undergarment preference.
After the entire nursing staff was convinced that all of my bodily fluids had been drained, I was transferred to a room.
In the room, I was instructed to put on a coffee filter like garment and get into bed, as the doctor would be with me shortly.
Shortly is a fairly loose term when used in a hospital setting.
Most medical staff believe that the forming of the Grand Canyon happened shortly.
Three years later, OK so maybe three hours later, a doctor came into the room.
He asked the same question all doctors ask, "What seems to be the trouble today?"This always gives me the feeling that doctors are not as highly trained as they claim.
There I was, swollen like Jabba the Hutt after Thanksgiving, and he wanted to know what the problem was.
If I could have spoke, I would have said "Infected hang-nail.
" Or something to that effect.
Over the next ten minutes, the doctor would listen to my chest (presumably hoping to catch the weather), shine a light in my eyes, and stick a piece of wood down my throat.
He murmured a lot, and scribbled notes on my chart.
Then he said "I am going to order some tests.
"Then he was gone, never to be seen again.
Most of you are probably wondering where my wife was through all of this.
She was stationed in a chair, filling paperwork of all sorts.
Paperwork is the essence of all things medical.
If you have not filled out at twenty-seven hundred forms, then you are most likely not in a real medical facility.
Once she had signed away all rights to search and seizure and our next three children, she came to the room and began to dispense sympathy.
"I told you it was a dumb idea to go camping.
" "I swear, if you weren't so darn cheap, we would have stayed at motel like the rest of the civilized population.
" "Don't you lose consciousness while I am talking to you.
" You get the point.
Anyway, once I was settled nicely into the room and preparing to get some rest, I was attacked by three orderlies.
They were acting on orders from the invisible doctor to take me to several different areas of the hospital so leftover Nazi doctors could perform "tests" on my person.
Before nightfall, I would receive a CATSCAN, PETSCAN, EKG, MRI, CTSCAN, fingernail density test, and of course, the standard proctological exam (a free gift when you purchase three or more tests).
According to the nursing assistant to the nursing assistants assistant, all of the test came back normal.
They wanted to hold me for observation.
If you look in the dictionary under OBSERVATION, it says something to the effect of: look at but don't touch or stick with sharp objects.
However, the Havard Medical Dictionary defines OBSERVATION as: Lock in a room with a gassy neighbor, wake at least four times nightly, stick with a large assortment of sharp objects and force-feed lime gelatin with grapes floating in it.
There is only two ways to get a good nights sleep in the hospital.
One, become comatose and two, die.
Otherwise, you are aroused constantly so a variety of nurses can check your vitals including colon temperature, give you something to help you sleep, and to check and make sure you made your insurance payment before you checked in.
Eight days later, I was back to normal size.
A doctor who specializes in strange diseases in people with crappy insurance finally deduced that a spider had bitten me.
To make sure that he earned his paycheck, he gave me the following expert medical advice.
"Stay away from spiders.
"Hippocrates would be proud.