Those of you following my personal Facebook profile will know I was warded in hospital for what was eventually diagnosed as an inflamed pancreas, or pancreatitis. It was a painful first 2 days, followed by a rather well-documented following 3 days of drug-induced happiness, and a final determined effort and planning to get out of hospital and get on with life that some have remarked bears some resemblance to the show Prisonbreak.
But the most taxing part of the whole ordeal wasn’t the pain, the needles, the prodding and pushing of the organs that really should not be prodded nor pushed, but the fielding of questions, from family, friends, and even medical staff, when the wife and I decided to announce my hospitalisation (which in this day and age, meant a simple Facebook update, though I decided to go further and turn it into a live microblogging event).
Here are The Blogfather’s top 6 questions you should never ask a guy (or girl, or, well, everyone else) when he gets hospitalised.
1. Are You Okay?
I got asked this at the clinic that decided to sic the ambulance on me by one of the older reception staff that I thought meant well when she patted me on the knee in the midst of one of my ab-crunching pain waves and asked, “Are you okay?” I looked at her incredulously and snapped back, “What does it look like?!”
If you have to ask, you’ve either never been sick, never seen anyone sick, or haven’t seen the sick guy yet, but chances are if he’s going to or already is in hospital, dude’s not okay. Next.
2. What Happened?
This question does sound pertinent, but in a situation such as mine where I got hit with an alien pain (meaning a pain I never felt before, and not an alien hit me in the stomach), the immediate response can only be “I don’t know.”
I cannot blame family and friends for this, but medical staff should know better and phrase the question more specifically. “What happened?” asked the A&E resident. “Gnnnngnnnggnnnn-idontknowdoccanyoutellme-gaaaahhhh” I say. Calmly.
(I did actually say that to the evaluating physician at the A&E I was sent to. Not calmly, though.)
3. Do You Need Help?
There will be people that, by habit of not wanting to intrude, don’t want to trouble anyone, will say “No, it’s okay, I can just — GAAAAH.” But honestly, if you need to ask, it’s because the fella’s making the answer really obvious already, so skip the question and just help the poor sod.
4. Why Are You Here (or, How Did You Get To Be Here)?
I was asked this by a couple of 3rd year med students who were doing obligatory patient engagement exercises around the wards as part of their coursework on diagnostics. It started like this:
Me: “Um, sure.”
Med Student 1: “Thank you. So, how did you get to be here?”
Me: (looks at her skeptically) “I get to be here by ambulance.”
Med Student 2: “Oh, sorry. What we meant to ask was, why are you here?”
Me: “Because I’m sick. How did you get to 3rd year?”
I would later give the two poor young medical academics a rather thorough lecture on how asking stupid questions will get you stupid answers.
5. Does It (Still) Hurt?
Do not ask this when the person in question is already writhing?in pain?and groaning like a hungry ghost in a closed food court (although if I had to describe my own groaning at the time, it would have to be like one of those stuntmen lying on the ground after a group attack on Jackie Chan failed.)
6. Where Are You Warded?
This is a very clever question. It sounds like an innocent ?query seeking to find out which hospital you are currently residing in, when actually it turns out to be a fact-finding mission so well-meaning friends can visit you.
I did manage to find a way to field this question directly and honestly by saying: “Think of it this way: I wouldn’t invite guests to a house I’m trying to get out of.”
At the very most, I’d say which hospital; if people really wanted to know, they can call the hospital admissions department to find out which block, ward and bed a patient is located in. I found out about this when a fruit basket was delivered to my bed by my school volunteer group when they found out I was warded (thanks, guys).