Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Hospital Song

I had a doctor’s appointment today. It was just a follow-up on a visit a month ago regarding my insomnia—nothing too serious. I got there ten minutes late, though this didn’t seem to affect anything; it was half an hour before the nurse took me back, and another half hour before the doctor came in.

I should note up front that I very much hate doctors and hospitals. I hate waiting rooms and their paltry selection of magazines. I hate exam rooms even more; have you ever noticed that they all have the same wallpaper, that cheap stuff that’s supposed to look like sponge painting in soothing pastel colors, but it really looks like a nursery room threw up?

So there I sat in the exam room, perched on the paper-covered table, and waited and waited. There was no reading material to speak of aside from the health-related posters on the wall, so I read those. The one about type II diabetes was particularly captivating. It outlines the various problems that could arise from failing to take care of your diabetes—heart attacks, amputations, blindness, and so forth.

Bafflingly, amputation is the only term to warrant a pronunciation guide: “am-pu-‘ta-shun.” I can’t help but notice that this is 80 percent identical to the actual spelling and that the vowels don’t seem to match up in any meaningful way. I run through a few overly literal pronunciations in my head—/eImpu’teISun/, /æmp@’tæS@n/, and so on (forgive my lack of proper IPA characters; or rather, blame HTML)—and wonder why they thought people would have problems with this fairly straightforward word; after all, they didn’t offer pronunciation help for macrovascular.

Then I got bored of the posters and found that Ben Folds Five’s “Hospital Song” had crept into my head. It seemed excessively depressing but still somewhat fitting, giving the unwelcoming feel of examination rooms. This one was particularly special. In a feat of architectural genius, there is a foot-wide diagonal beam crossing in front of the window, obscuring a great deal of the view.

Eventually, about an hour and a half and a $25 copay later, I am leaving with a handful of trial drugs and a couple of prescriptions. One thing’s for sure: all this stuff sure isn’t going to help with my self-diagnosed hypochondria.

Blog 2 Replies to “Hospital Song”
Jonathon Owen


2 thoughts on “Hospital Song

    Author’s gravatar

    Sorry you’ve not been feeling well. Ten points on the description of the wallpaper.

    Author’s gravatar

    And ten bonus points for making me laugh out loud with your puzzlement at the pronunciation guide of amputation.

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