Tag Archives: boredom

Boredom in hospital

In case you haven’t realised it yet, your time in hospital will be split as follows.   1% Treatment.   99% Waiting for Treatment.

If you are very seriously ill then the 99% will pass in a blur and it won’t matter.  But for most of us, while being in hospital can be depressing, painful, stressful, and so on,  the worst thing about it is the tedium.  If your ailments don’t get you, then there is a real possibility you could actually end up being bored to death.

You might think ‘Ah well.  I can use the time to do something worthwhile.  Write a book.  Learn how to crochet.  Become fluent in Mandarin.’  Forget it.  You simply don’t have the brainpower because of all the depression, pain and stress in the last paragraph.    Even reading something really simple can just feel like too much effort.

You know you’re in the grips of tediumitis when you start taking an unhealthy interest in the slightest movement in the ward.  When you find yourself putting down Take a Break magazine to watch someone empty the bin,  you need help.

So in the fine tradition of blogging lists,  here is my list of  five ways to keep yourself occupied on the ward without putting too much effort into it.

  1. Listen in to other people’s conversations. It’s unavoidable, so for the only time in your life , completely guilt-free.  Be as nosey as you like.   People have really  in-depth, interesting discussions in hospital, ranging from   ‘What’s wrong with my bowels?’ to whispered ‘ What ARE we going to do with Grandma when she gets out?’   If the curtains are drawn around the bed,  strain your ears as much as you like.  If they are open,  try to show a little discretion. I once had a family of six who were visiting the next bed, actually turn their chairs round so they could hear better what my doctor was saying.
  2. Hospital Bingo. You can make up your own list of phrases to tick off of course but here are a few to start you off. Have you got good veins? (Normally said by a nervous nurse with a needle.) Are my pills ready to take home? (Normally said at 7pm by a patient who was told he could go home at 10am.). Here’s your toast and it’s warm.  (Never comes up).
  3. Read your hospital notes. If they’ll let you. If  you manage to get past the ridiculous hospital procedures about whether you can or not, (another blog post pending), then reading your notes is extremely interesting.  Not only do you find out what you’ve got (which is often difficult to get out of the doctors themselves), you also sometimes find out what they actually think of you in their letters to each other.  I once read one which started ‘Thank you for referring this extremely pleasant lady to me.’ Really?  Of course if you’re a cantankous old moaner then you might not like what you read.  But then you could always write a few complaint letters.  That would use up a bit of time.
  4. Work out who is the most irritating patient on the ward. Points for snoring, whinging, not using their headphones for the TV, telling you over and over again about the intricacies of their illness, being unfortunate enough to be hooked up to a constantly beeping machine ( not their fault but hey), taking an hour in the shower,  having more pillows than you, and generally just staring at you across the ward alot.  Playing the game won’t make them less irritating ..but at least in conducting a scientific study, you can tell your visitors emphatically ‘The most irritating person on here is that woman over there.’
  5. Finally if all those fail, there’s one more thing to try to avoid boredom in hospital. Next time the nurse comes round, try playing dead.  That should liven things up.

Company at the Bed – the hospital visitor

Always a tricky one this.  We all want hospital visitors.  Let’s face it, if we’re so bored that we’re reduced to putting down Take a Break to watch someone empty the bin, then it’s pretty clear someone from the outside arriving to actually talk to us will be the high point of the day.  Or will it?

The problem with visitors unless they are your nearest and dearest, conversations run dry pretty quickly.  Here is a typical example:

Visitor:  Hi! You’re looking well (blatant lie).  How are you doing?

Patient: Oh not so bad (another blatant lie).

Visitor:  How did the test go/what did the doctor say/when will you be out?

There will then follow three minutes of conversation in which you draw out in great detail the one minute conversation you had with the doctor this morning.

Pause …….

Patient: So how are you?

Visitor: Oh fine, fine.

Patient: Any news?

Visitor: No not really.

Pause………

Right so now you’re at most six minutes into your visit and you have at least another 30 before your hospital visitor can reasonably leave, safe in the warm feeling that they’ve done their duty by coming in to cheer you up.

And then there’s the tricky issue of what they bring with them.  Because they want to bring something.  To arrive at a hospital visit without a gift is a bit like being invited to dinner and not bringing a bottle.  Except they can’t really turn up on the renal ward with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.  Flowers?  Well that used to be the easy option, but nowadays most wards don’t want them. They’re apparently a hygiene risk.  Along with a load of other hygiene risks that most people ignore of course …but frankly flowers are messy, require vases, drop petals …and when you’re ill any strong smells can tip you over a vomit inducing edge.  So no thanks to flowers.

Magazines?  Newspapers? Books?  Yes please. But be prepared, as a patient to see your hospital visitor in a whole new light.   You expected the Daily Mail, he brought the Guardian.  You thought you’d get Vogue, you got Chat magazine.  Their choice of what they bring you to read says something about them …or about what they think about you! No pressure then Visitors.

Food.  Ah yes.  Even worse. They won’t know what special diet you’re on.   So if you’re on low salt, they’ll bring crisps, low potassium you’ll get bananas and ‘I thought you’d be missing your skinny lattes’,  restricted fluids you’ll get a nice big bottle of lemonade to wink at you from your bedside cabinet.  With every visit your table piles higher and higher with forbidden food until the nurse comes over and tells you in no uncertain terms that if you don’t  sort your diet out, they’ll stop the IV insulin.  (*IT WASN’T MY FAULT.  SOMEONE BOUGHT IT ME!!!!*)

If you’re in for a particularly long spell, you may find your gifts get more and more imaginative (or bizarre).  I recently got a Lego campervan, two origami kits, a paint by numbers, and a Rubiks cube.  Think I may have been doing some moaning about being bored.     I didn’t finish any of them while I was actually on the ward ….but it did give us all something to talk about.

Expect many pauses.  Some will be extended while you both listen intently to what visitors to the next bed have to say.  And what the doctor said to them on the round.  And to see what gift they got.

And of course your visit ends with more blatant lies.

Patient: Good to see you

Visitor: You too.  I’ll tell everyone how well you’re looking.