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Nightmare at the ‘sick spa’

December 2, 2012


I’ve been dreaming of booking a spa weekend at one of those plush retreats where the staff pampers the guests and makes them feel wonderful. You know those places — where you can drop a few pounds while dining on gourmet fare and being followed around by an adorable exercise instructor.

Well, I almost got my wish two weeks ago when I checked into a facility in Jackson for an all expense paid vacation (at least it will be if my health insurance is all paid up). What I hoped would be a restful luxury retreat turned into a nightmare.

I wasn’t in the door good when an aid made me forfeit my clothing and dress in what amounted to an apron with no sash or means to secure it in the back. Worse yet, the fabric was a perfect replica of a l950 vintage tablecloth my mother used when we were having a particularly messy meal because no stain could possibly make it look any uglier. It was the shade of an asparagus that had spent too much time in the back of the refrigerator and trust me; it was not a becoming color for anyone.

To complete the ensemble, they plopped an uncoordinated sky blue hair net on my head and rolled me off to la la land to remove every organ I could ever hope to live without. The next four days were a blur of drug induced twilight time as I merrily pumped Dilaudid into my own veins at will, and waxed stupid about whatever came into my head. 

I was having the time of my life until I noticed visitors looking at me queerly. I didn’t know why until several days later when a nurse handed me a mirror. I was horrified to find I had a balloon like sac coming out of my nose. At first, I thought it was permanent and that was good for a fresh refill of drugs to quiet the screaming. 

For seven days, I dined on crushed ice — and not much of it. My exercise program involved walking down the hall to the water cooler. I got in trouble with the head nurse because I turned my gown around so I could hold it together more effectively. No, apparently they want you to be as humiliated as possible — to aid speedy healing I guess.

Two night nurses who I nicknamed “The Keystone Cops” came into my room each evening and pulled pranks like unhooking my tubes and dumping my crushed ice on the floor so the next crew had to clean it all up. My son, who stayed in the room with me, said this never happened but someone made the mess and it couldn’t have been me.

The happiest day of my life was the day my Doc let me go home. I continue to be puzzled by how miserable a hospital strives to make things for patients. I like to think it’s out of compassion — so we will go to any length to live healthier lives and avoid any return visits.Works for me.

Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement. She welcomes comments at

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