Thursday, April 22, 2010

Really pointless morning musings, to make this more like a real blog

My attitude to drugs has changed substantially over the course of this adventure. I've never been averse to their utility, and have enjoyed recreational pharmaceuticals as much as the next person (well, perhaps much less often than the typical next person, particularly in the Bay Area, but you take my point). But in general, if I feel I can get by without chemical aid, I try to do so. This stems, no doubt, from raw body arrogance.

But this week I've been repeatedly using the word prophylactic in close proximity to Vicodin. This is partly due to having played Leisure Suit Larry in my formative years, but more due to my atavistic aversion to pain overcoming my intellectualized snootishness over my own innate neurochemistry. As a result, I really don't know how much this whole exercise has hurt.

There is no physical memory of pain anyway, of course, but my habit of popping an extra Vicodin when the phone call comes warning of the doctor's incipient arrival has scuppered any kind of meaningful tracking. I have whiny blog entries to fall back on, but, well, it's a blog. What exactly were you expecting?

While I'm here, this hotel is weird. There's at least a half-dozen surgical patients in attendance. We pass each other like ghosts, shrouded by hoods to conceal blooded tubing and bandages, unremarked by either each other or other residents (with the exception of the UK girls, who always make an effort, are delightful, and I feel bad for not reaching out to more).

But that's not the odd thing. The odd thing is that the Staybridge is a hotel, not any kind of medical facility. For the first 24-48 hours, before I could breathe through my nose, the best that I could do is draw a lungful of air and expel it at volume through whatever naso-pharyngeal channels had carrying capacity. This resulted in clots, blood spray, mucus, confused rodents and a menagerie of other objects being ejected at high velocity in all directions. Despite the nurse's best attempts to position tissues and a kidney basin, I don't believe collateral damage was avoided particularly effectively. This room shall carry my lasting DNA legacy forevermore. I sincerely hope nobody dies here in mysterious circumstances in the next week or two.

The cleaning staff are remarkably cheerful. I'm not even sure that they wear gloves. They bustle in, use gestures to ask if I want bedding changed, clean out the bins which are full of grade-A biohazard contents, remove bloodstains from bathroom surfaces, run the dishwasher, dust, clean, and are off to their next room. I've never tipped domestic staff in a hotel before, I don't think (I make a bad American facsimile), but this might just be the time.

I know they see at least three new patients a week in similar state (probably for at least a week), and I'm sure there were delicate negotiations with Dr Zukowski's office before they became the preferred residential supplier (with preferred residential rates), so this is far from an uncommon case, but I'm seriously astonished. Particularly since the HIV/Hepatitis/other blood-borne pathogen testing consisted of a checkbox on the preadmission form the day before surgery.


  1. I highly recommend tipping the staff. First, one should in general in the US (which I admit to being really bad about until I stayed at places with a friend who worked in the service industry who totally shamed me into doing it), but definitely if you're making an insane and scary mess.

    I wonder why they're so cheerful?

  2. Well... I'm not keeping a close count of my remaining Vicodin or Valium...

    But the tipping is a great idea - I still haven't got the tipping attitude entrenched, would you believe?

    What does one normally tip room staff at a real hotel? Percentage of room rate, modified for rock and roll lifestyle?

    This is extended stay hotel, meaning full cleaning only weekly and basically just bin emptying and towel replacement otherwise, but the biohazard issue tilts the balance way in the other direction :P

  3. According to you've already screwed it up.

    Their suggestion is to tip daily since the cleaning staff may change day-to-day. Since you're there, you could just give the tip to the staff each day, but otherwise they suggest putting it in a clearly marked envelope, or wrapping it in paper (if there are no envelopes) and marking it clearly (to avoid any doubt that it's a tip). Apparently the going rate varies from $1-$5 a day depending on the quality of the hotel. That doesn't sound like much given all the "by-products" you've been leaving around...