You don’t go to a hospital to rest. Everyone who has ever stayed there even one night knows that. You’re a project. And maybe you’re a project for just one doctor. But guess what? Go to a teaching hospital, and you’ve got student doctors, at all stages, crawling all over you, and you’re a teaching object. Sometimes they call themselves by their first names. This is very confusing. Sometimes they call themselves doctor. But you don’t know if that means intern, first-year resident, fourth-year resident. And god help you if you just hope for the best. I do interviews – of everyone who enters my room as a potential caregiver. Some never get to caregiver status in my room. I kick out students regularly now. Especially if they’re just smiling and giving me bullshit answers to who they are, what training they’ve had so far, what the hell they’re doing there, and where is the Real Doctor.

Some students have proven to be very astute and useful and even honest. Honesty is not necessarily a rare commodity in a hospital, but when it comes along on its own, as in I’m offering you this information about myself and my training, it is rare and to be treasured.

I was in the hospital last week for four days and tortured badly on two of those days. I had to be NPO (nothing by mouth – so starve and thirst, impatient of patients) for two days in a row. The first day they stopped the torture at 1:30 p.m. and I could eat and drink then. I ordered lunch from what they call “Room Service.” Ha! If room service were that bad in a hotel, they’d go out of business. But I got sustenance and I’ve found a few things on the menu that aren’t so horrible that I can get them down. They seem to go out of their way to serve unhealthy food, though. Just amazing. You order pancakes and ask for maple syrup, because they say they have maple syrup. When it comes, the packet (not marked maple syrup or mentioning “maple” anywhere) contains high fructose corn syrup and all other forms of corn (obviously non-GMO), dextrose, etc. ad nauseam. Bring on the Monsanto. Might as well pour Roundup on my fluffy little pancakes. But the nurse makes me delicious iced drinks of cranberry juice, water and lots of ice. I get by.

The next morning arrives far too soon. NPO again. I knew it was coming but nothing stops it from being torture. In fact, it’s worse. Today it’s accompanied by a migraine. Of course, I spent at least an hour trying to pretend it wasn’t a migraine. But finally I tell my nurse and ask her to get my doctor to order some Imitrex, injectable – because my stomach is already wrecked. I waited. I asked the nurse where it is after an hour. Then she tells me a story that really lights my advocacy fire. The hepatology PA is balking because of the damage it can cause to the liver. My liver is already toast. Who cares? I tell the nurse, “Get her in here. Right now.” She saw the fire in my eyes.

The PA comes in already talking, whispering really, and beating her chest. I wait till she’s by my bed. Then I put my finger in her face and tell her, “I’d like to kill you right now.” This is over-the-top advocacy, I admit. At that moment, it was true. I told her not to interfere between my doctor and me and to get that Imitrex up here right now. She was backing out of the room during my whole tirade and nodding yes, yes, yes.

The Pharmacy had to play their turf and doctor-wannabe games, too. Oh, liver problems, blah blah blah. And I’m wondering to myself, how come no one is concerned about one of the big side effects of Imitrex – sudden death? They just want to beat up my doctor. But ultimately she wins. Sort of. I certainly don’t, except that I didn’t die of a sudden.

I get the Imitrex two hours after I’d asked for it. That means it won’t be nearly as effective if I’d gotten it within half hour to an hour after asking for it.

Hospitals aren’t there to make you happy. I wonder if they’re even there to make you healthy. They are efficient torture chambers and have tons of ways to test your limits of withstanding of the “care” they offer. I’ll be there again. And no preparation works – you’re just not in control of your life temporarily, and you’ll be busy advocating for you.