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September 24, 2011

As Time Goes By: I really didn't want to go, but I'm really glad I went

It has been a while since my last visit to the hospital, so my body decided to give me a vacation by getting sick with cellulitis. (I also had an elevated temperature.)

I do not recall much of what happened before arriving at the hospital, but Diane had a lot of fun trying to keep track of me because I kept thinking I was down at Myrtle Beach.

Since I had one foot in Myrtle Beach and the other in Worcester, I surely was in a vulnerable position.

My first recollection starts as I was being admitted. They asked me what I weighed, and I said I weighed myself that morning and I was 340 pounds. Somehow nobody wanted to accept that so I got onto a bed that had all the bells and whistles including "four on the floor," a "hemi head," "Holley Carburetors" and a built-in scale.

As I settled in the bed, there were all sorts of mechanical groans and squeaks.

The bed determined that my weight was 1 pound. Suddenly my weight from the morning became reliable. This bed was to be my bed for my entire stay but it still made noises every time I moved, like it was trying to atone for the 1-pound gaff.

That night, as I lay staring at the walls, I decided that I needed to sit up for a while. So I got the controls and, because I had left my glasses home, decided to just use the pictures on the control to guide my actions.

I started pushing buttons, and various parts of my bed started going up or down, dropping my feet and raising my head and presto change-o my hospital bed became a sliding board. I slowly started to slip down the bed, and gently slid on my backside down to the floor. (Officer, I swear that I was not going over 5 mph.)

My call for "help" or "assistance" button was out of reach at the top of the bed so I did the only thing I could think of _ I yelled, "HELP." Suddenly I was surrounded by angelic hosts who had fallen out of heaven to be at my side.

"Did you bump your head?"


"How many fingers am I holding up?"

"Thirteen," (So I was a little off _ remember I didn't have my glasses on.)

Now the fun begins. How do we get Geerken off the floor? It was decided to get the "derrick."

The derrick configuration was very similar to rigging used for lifting engines in and out of cars. Belts of various sizes were passed around my buttocks and connected to the hoist.

At the press of a button I slowly levitated in a horizontal position and was wheeled over to the super bed where I was gently deposited like a sack of rice. All I needed was a cold "brewski," and I would have thought I was at the circus.

Before I went to sleep, the floor nurse made me promise to stay in the bed and if I wanted to get out I would call her first.

I woke in the middle of the night thirsty. I got my cup of iced water and took a sip. I must have rested the cup on my chest and dozed off because suddenly I had ice water all over my upper body. Talk about being suddenly awake!

I am not so sure about the time frame. but somewhere around this time I heard a knock on the door. It was "Mother Nature."

I need to clarify a few things here. I have been around the block enough times for me to ever think that I could navigate a bedpan. The same holds true for a urine bottle.

Using a urine bottle, you know it and I know it, that as sure as there are stars above, we're going to dump it into bed. (At least once, but you'll have to endure all the pubescent training and hear once again, "Oh, Henry, what have you done?" and all you can do is hang your head in shame, again.)

The same holds true for a bed pan. Trying to place me on a bed pan is akin to trying to make an elephant feel confident and comfortable while sitting on a thimble. You know that it is disaster in the making. If a urine bottle can recapture shame, then missing a bed pan is total mortification.

For all the reasons stated previously, I will die first before I have to go to answer any call of Mother Nature in any other place but a bathroom.

So, when Mother Nature called me in the hospital, I started to look for the nearest bathroom.

Now for people with handicaps, they have designed a toilet that is slightly higher than normal.

It makes life pleasant so people have easy access by sliding from one place to another.

The nurse helping me sensed my reluctance and said, "Wait a minute," and returned with a height adjusted commode. I breathed a sigh of relief _ I was amongst friends.

A quick word about hospital gowns.

For some reason, when I am wearing one, I always have the sensation of a breeze behind me _ good for sailing but nerve-racking for maintaining a decorum of elegance in a half-naked state.

A word of advice _ NEVER try to pick up anything on the floor wearing a hospital gown. As you bend over, EVERYONE can see "New York without a ticket."

So to Janet, Jessica, Kelly and Kelly (there are two of them, honest), Charlotte, Dora, Darlene and the other cute nurse whose name I forgot (but you know who you are), a big THANK YOU for a wonderful vacation.

You are all a pleasure to know, but I don't enjoy the reason we met.

Truly, the Oneonta area is very fortunate to have such dedicated people to help us out in our needs.

Bless you, all.

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 'Senior Scene' columns can be found at

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