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Lifestyles

December 17, 2011

As Time Goes By: I just couldn't help myself, I had to go back

Have you ever had a vacation where when you left you wanted to turn around and go right back?

There was a wishing well down in Disney World where if you dropped in a coin, you could make a wish to return. I loved that place so much I dropped at least 100 pennies in that well and, yes, I did return a few years later.

Back in August I stood under the portico of A.O. Fox Hospital in Oneonta and, feeling like MacArthur, stated, "I shall not return."

I lied, because in the middle of October I was right back in Fox with the same problem. Seems like we had a few penicillin-resistant germs left in my body and they finally grew strong enough to make me sick _ again.

I'm having a love affair with this place. This may very well be the next pandemic of the future _ penicillin-resistant bacteria that can't be stopped.

It is safe to say that my arrival was too late for the whole two-pound lobster and the beef Wellington feast. They put me in a bed that had nothing fancy about it _ no dials, no bells or whistles. The only thing this bed did was go up or down at my head or at my feet. The news of my last stay at the hospital had gotten around so I wasn't going to get a chance to slide out of this bed onto the floor.

While I was snoozing, I got a roommate. Now, roommates are touchy subjects _ they can be great or not. I have always been lucky to get roommates that are sheer pleasure.

I awoke from my snooze and, realizing I had gotten a new roommate, sat up and peeked around the sliding curtain _ and looked right into the face that somehow seemed familiar. (At the age of 74, I've been around long enough so that everyone looks familiar.) He introduced himself and told me his name was Frank and that he and his wife used to own Mama Nina's Pizza from 1982 to 1988. I knew that face _ it belonged to the man who stood in the window and flipped those pizzas into the air. The very memory of those pizzas almost made me faint _ being feverish had left me with no desire to eat.

Frank proceeded to tell me about the pizzas and calzones he had made years ago. My mouth started to water. Then he mentioned the strombolis that would melt in your mouth, filling your heart with joy. The next time you visit me in the hospital, just bring a calzone instead of candy or flowers.

I didn't fall out of bed this trip.

One day I was told that some nurses-in-training would be tending to my needs. Samantha and Anne Marie from the nursing program at the State University College of Technology at Delhi made up my bed, changed sheets and practiced getting the myriad of answers to all the questions they ask on those entrance forms. I thought the white, green and gold uniforms looked very professional.

I met with the nutritionist and we had fun discussing all the logistics that are necessary for feeding close to 150 people, and in some cases with specialized diets, and deliver them piping hot. I told her I was sorry for missing the whole lobster and beef Wellington feast.

I complimented her and the staff for getting the food to my room nice and hot. She showed me the special plates that make it all possible. I mused out loud about getting a set for my home, and she said she thought they only came in case lots.

It's nice when people remember your needs, because before I could say, "I gotta go," my old friend the commode on stilts was beside my bed.

Being marketing-oriented, I started thinking about promoting the stay in the hospital. My thoughts led to the following:

Like frequent flyer miles at banks and other businesses, we could get frequent flyer miles for the length of your hospital stay. You could get bonus miles for various procedures. An appendectomy would get day-for-day rewards while quintuple by-pass heart surgery would get double or triple bonus miles.

A sales slogan could be "crawl in with pain, fly out again."

Instead of flowers, plants or a get-well card, you could endow a bed in a person's name.

If you have the need for hospital care you could call ahead to reserve the bed. (Ask a nurse for a warmed blanket _ there is nothing in the world to describe the sensation when she lays it on top of you.)

The ultimate recognition would be to have a revolving door erected just for you. A red runner carpet would lead your way. (A fan-fare of trumpets would be optional.)

Frequent visitor honoree bed-pans (gold plated and monogrammed) would await your arrival, perhaps set on a shelf like the beer steins at your favorite watering hole.

The ultimate recognition would be a personalized visit to your room from John R. Remillard, president of A.O. Fox Hospital.

Now, that would be something to write about.

P.S. Like a good soap opera this story does not end here.

Henry Geerken is a three-time NYSUT award-winner writing humorous articles addressing retiree and senior citizen concerns. Geerken also writes for Sail-World, World Cruising Newsletter, regarding his many humorous sailing episodes through the years. He can be reached by e-mail at hgeerken@stny.rr.com. 'Senior Scene' columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/seniorscene.

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