Nightmare in the ‘sick spa’


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 (see photo above). 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

7 thoughts on “Nightmare in the ‘sick spa’

  1. Looking forward to when you can be fully recovered and never have to be humiliated by a hospital gown again. I think of you every day (more than once) and always with such great affection. You ARE the girl.

  2. I read Mother some of your blogs- she has been out of pocket too since the end of October- hoping you are doing better and that you can both chat soon and commiserate about hospital stays.

  3. Karen – hate that I haven’t been able to talk to Shirley. Was this surgery planned? I hope she is doing better – what a shame we can’t get together and recuperate – that could be fun. Do you think it would be okay to call her? Or is she sleeping a lot? Good to hear from you. Did you get here for thanksgiving?

  4. You are and always have been a Lady, Emily. I am sure you wore your hospital gown with as much dignity as any one could. Did anyone take pictures?

  5. Emily, so glad you are back and writing again. Missed you.
    I remember an office visit to my oncologist about 10 years ago. The nurse laid one of those awful gowns on the examining table and told me to get undressed and put on the gown and the doctor would see me shortly. You can probably imagine my dismay when I opened the gown and found both ties just laying there…neither attached to the gown. I puzzled a moment then punched 2 holes at the neckline, inserted one tie, made a flower from the second tie and tied it to the gown with the first tie. When my doctor opened the door, he did a double take at the gown, tucked securely around my body with the tie flower staring right back at him.
    Told him about the condition of the gown when I first opened it and commented that, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. We both had our chuckle for the day.

  6. Emily-
    We knew a few weeks beforehand that she was going to have the surgery- she was in Tupelo for a week- home for a week, then back in the hospital for a week. Please do call her, she can’t talk for long but I know she wants to hear from you.

  7. I will Karen. I’m sure CT is keeping close tabs on her. My friend, Jack, who had the same surgery has offered to go over and talk to her about his complete recovery (they are the same oage). Please let me know if she would like that.

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