It’s my funeral. If I want you to play Bon Jovi as they wheel my body away to be cremated you’ll do it.”
Hospital Etiquette for Newbies
(Or how to NOT piss your roommate off)
So, I’m sitting here in my hospital bed for the tenth time in two years, hoping that the end is in sight. I thought I was going home today. My new boob appears to have other ideas ~ I now have an infection and until it’s under control, I’m stuck here.
I’m a seasoned hospital goer, but I know many of you aren’t, there are probably some among you who hate hospitals, who avoid them like the plague, who have no idea to act. And this brings me to the subject of today’s post ~ hospital etiquette.
1. Put your damn phone on silent! In this day of modern technology, it’s great to be able to get in touch with loved ones when you reach the ward or to be able to Instagram your wounds the minute you wake up from surgery but PLEASE, if the person in the bed next to you is trying to sleep, do not have your ringtone up as loud as is humanly possible and refrain from using the cute bubble sounds when you text. Not everyone gets a giggle out of it.
2. Do not whine to your partner/friend/doctor about how annoying your roommate is when you think they’re asleep. The odds are they’re probably not and can hear every thing you say. Likewise, do not tell all and sundry how you need a private room, whilst making nodding motions towards your roommate and raising your eyebrows suggestively. We’d all like a private room. Sometimes the freakin’ hospital is full!
3. Do not go to the toilet in the middle of the night carrying your drain and a packet of throat lozenges. The chances are extremely high that you WILL drop the lozenges on the timber floor and wake up your roommate. You will also expose your bottom to said roommate whilst scrambling on the floor to pick them up. Hospital gowns are very flimsy pieces of attire.
4. Do not pull the dividing curtain along the whole way when you have access to the only window in the room. Consider that the other person only has a view of the fake Monet on the wall and may have been staring at it for a good week already. You did not pay for the view. It does not belong to you.
5. And lastly, remember that if you turn on the TV at three in the morning when someone else is on the other side of the dividing curtain trying to sleep, then proceed to call for a cup of tea like you’re dialing room service; karma is gonna come back and bite you in the bum. Yes, lady. I heard you talking about bugs in your sleep last night. I saw your naked bottom. It wasn’t pretty and now I’ve told the whole world in a blog post!
Happy hospital stay 🙂
About an hour later, Brendan arrives home late from squash to find me surfing the net on the new TV. Having located the last stash of chocolates — which I’d hidden so well even I couldn’t find them in the first search — I’ve demolished the lot, washing them down with a bottle of red. I’m feeling a little bit tipsy. Or it could be a sugar rush.
Raising his eyebrows at the coffee table, which is littered with wrappers and bearing a couple of wine rings, Brendan screws the papers into a tight ball and takes them and the empty bottle to the kitchen. He returns with a sponge, which he uses to wipe the table before returning it to its plastic bowl under the kitchen sink.
“Are you drunk?” he asks, returning to the room.
“Is that wise?”
“Probably not. I’ll have a massive hangover in the morning.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“I realise that.”
I glare at him. Since the first traumatic days of my diagnosis, Brendan appears to have returned to his old self. Yes, he’s sporting a lot of new ties and at odd moments, I catch him studying me with a sad look on his face, but I think he’s trying to support me as best he can by acting as normally as he can. Which would of course, include chastising me for drinking too much and making a mess on his coffee table.
He walks around the sofa and flops down beside me. His body is clammy from his game of squash and his hair is standing in jagged spikes on top of his head. Somehow, he still manages to look devastatingly handsome.
“What’s this?” Brendan picks up my To Do list.
“A few things I need to sort out.” I try to snatch the list away but he holds it at arm’s length and begins to read.
“You’re planning your funeral? Jesus, Sophie!”
“You don’t think I’d let you be in charge do you?”
With the piece of paper in his hand, Brendan gets up and heads for the fridge. He pulls out a bottle of water and drinks half before wiping his mouth on the back of his hand. He slings an arm over the open door. “Why are you planning your funeral?”
“In case I die on the operating table.”
“You’re not going to die on the operating table.” Shaking his head, he finishes his water and takes a three point shot at the recycling bin.
“I know, but in case I do, I’ve left you a list of requests.”
Brendan comes back to the sofa and picks up a second piece of paper from beside me. It has a heading entitled ‘Sophie’s Funeral’ and a page-long dot-pointed set of ideas. His eyes scan the page and he shakes his head again.
“I’m not playing Bon Jovi at your funeral, Soph.”
“It’s my funeral. If I want you to play Have A Nice Day as they wheel my body away to be cremated, you’ll do it.”
“But it’s a rock song.”
“I know. I want people to be happy. That song makes me happy. Speaking of which, I want U2 as well. Walk On. And P!nk, Bad Influence while you do the photo montage.”
“People will laugh.”
“I want them to. People shouldn’t cry because I’m gone. They should have a wake where everyone stands around and remembers the funny things I did and then they get really pissed. I do not want crying and I definitely don’t want you to sprinkle my remains in some tacky rose garden somewhere.”
“Where will I put you then?”
“In an urn on the mantel. Then I can heckle you when you put the moves on a new woman.”
He looks horrified.
He takes another look at the list. “They can’t sew your boob back on after you die.”
“Why? It’s no good to anybody but me. The surgeon’s going to sew me up anyway, so I don’t see the difference. It doesn’t have to be neat sewing. It just needs to be there so I’m complete and look nice in my death outfit.”
“Maybe you should discuss that with the doctor next Thursday.”
I snatch the pieces of paper from him. “All right. I will. I might get a sensible answer from her.”
I put the list aside and glancing at my watch, I pick up the phone. I scrawl another item while I wait.
“Hello? Anna? This is Sophie Molloy. I was wondering if you could fit me in for a full body wax, mani-pedi and an eyebrow wax and tint before next Thursday?”
Brendan’s mouth has hit the carpet. “You’re going to hospital, not the Oscars,” he hisses.
“Shhh!” I hold my hand up and turn away so I can’t see him making faces at me. “One o’clock will be great. Thanks Anna. Yeah, see you then.” I hang up the phone and calmly scratch an item off the list.
The only thing I need now is luggage. I really need luggage.
“Sophie!” Brendan snatches the remote from me and turns the TV off. I can see he’s getting annoyed, so I try to give him my attention.
“How much have you spent? So far?”
I do a quick tally. “Roughly eight hundred.”
“You do understand that’s two plane tickets to Melbourne?”
“Says the man who spent a small fortune on technology the other day.”
He gives me the look.
“I’m going to hospital. I need to look my best. People are going to see me naked.”
“I’m pretty sure they’ve seen naked people before. They won’t care if your toes aren’t buffed.”
“I know, but I will. If I’m going to be unconscious in an operating theatre with a bunch of people I don’t know, I won’t be giving them any excuse to talk about me, except to say how pretty my hair is.”
My lip starts to wobble when I hear how incredibly shallow I sound and I collapse into Brendan’s arms. Sobbing.
“It’s okay. I understand. You can’t control the cancer, so you’re trying to control everything else in your life. You don’t like not being in control.”
“Are you saying I’m a control freak?”
He pauses for a minute, knowing that his sex life hangs in the balance here. If he says the wrong thing, I could cut him off. For a very long time.
“I’m saying you like to be organised and this has thrown you for a loop. You can’t orchestrate this part of your life. You have to let the professionals do their job.”
I understand what he’s saying and he’s perfectly right. I am an organiser. But I like things to be a certain way. That’s me. I reach up and peck his cheek. I feel so much better now I know I’m not having some sort of pre-op breakdown.
“If you don’t play Bon Jovi at my funeral, I’ll come back and haunt you while you’re having sex.”
“That sounds kinky.”
“Don’t bet on it.”
Lindy lives on acreage in country Western Australia where she spends her days teaching, writing, walking and looking after orphan lambs. (See Daisy Darling)