Can we be honest here?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I visited the new Louise Obici Memorial Hospital to have a knee replaced by super surgeon, Aaron Marlow. It’s beautiful, clean, &uot;efficient,&uot; high-tech, very expensive, with a cafeteria that drew in hundreds during Hurricane Isabel. Maybe it was the do-it-your-self morphine pump keeping me in la-la-land that shifted my appetite, bladder and bowels into reverse. I ingested one meal in four days and that was only so they would let me out.

Never allow them to put you in room 329, which is next to that floor’s noisy collection station for the 24-hour expert medical personnel required to find reasons to wake you every hour for blood pressure and temperature readings, or forcing swallows of stuff designed to kill your germs, settle your queasy stomach, or help you &uot;sleep.&uot; Even though they must work their miracles terribly underpaid, you resent their intrusion. One does not go to hospitals for a rest; only to solve a physical problem…never to heal. That you do at home where all is peace and tranquility, and far less pedestrian traffic.

You know that wonderful warm fuzzy blanket they lay on you just before surgery in a sterile op room where people work in 30 degrees to keep the bacteria population down? That blanket is heaven. But once in your personal torture room it’s different. God only knows what they put under your butt at Obici, so many things can go wrong with your doped plumbing, but on top one thin soft blanket plus, as many as you need, heavy white rag rugs designed, apparently, to prevent you from wandering off. Two makes even breathing difficult, three pins you like a butterfly in a collection. Can you imagine my hell when they changed my entire bedding after a leaking ice bag spilled its cold contents under me? Crippled leg, doped mind and body; it took six persons to lift and repack the fillet I had become. I begged for a teakettle of hot water; I got another thick rag rug.

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I can forgive hospital use of a cheap cloth ice bag, and blankets the equivalent of heavy brocade draperies, but not the horrifying episode when the morphine pump connector separated from the I.V. sometime in the night and sent me to purgatory. A called angel discovered it long after I had gone mad and shoved it back in. There is enough adhesive tape in that building to reach the moon and back, surely enough to hold one vital plastic coupling in place. I imagined myself to be suffering what a Civil War soldier must have felt when having a leg sawed off with only the assistance of whiskey and a bullet to bite. I will speak to the hospital top dogs that insist their patients always be comfortable.

You don’t suppose Democratic candidate for president John Edwards could ease up a bit on his qualifications for the job. The condition of South Carolina is hardly evidence of his power and rich experience. He looks you straight in the face and speaks of the two Social Security systems, one for the rich and one for you. Well his is for the rich, congress, and he will drag down millions of pension after his Senate term is up. Best that he not let go of that position. He has as much chance of being president as unendurable Dean.

I pay Verizon $2 every month to keep my telephone number out of the published phone books. In five years I have been bothered only one time. It was a little sweetheart calling to sell me part of their services, yes, she was from Verizon. She was all bubbly and happy as she started her spiel, even before I said hello. Why did I hang up on her immediately? Her first words were, &uot;Mr. Picklington.&uot; And she had my records.

Leave it to the delegates to protect themselves, they knocked a portion of the new DUI laws out, the part that made it mandatory to do a little jail time if they scored high enough on the drunk meter. Apparently they want the right to imbibe enough to qualify as a drunk, but not forced to do the time unless a judge says so. We just witnessed a great example of hoping a name and title would separate a mucky-muck from ordinary people. The sheriff of Portsmouth risked his job many times figuring the boys in blue would understand his weakness and be intimidated by his prestige. It worked, for years.

Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular News-Herald columnist. He can be contacted via e-mail: