Here’s something I’ll bet you didn’t know about me.
I’m extremely fearful, to the point it is an actual phobia, when it comes to going to the hospital. It has something to do with the way they smell and sound. One whiff of disinfectant and the sweat of fear, coupled with some feminine, bored, muffled intercom voice communicating life and death in rainbow-colored codes, and I have been known to incapacitate myself with a full-blown panic attack.
Because of this crippling effect on me, there is a kind of process I go through mentally before I’m going to step one foot into these sinister, stinky hubs of health. I’ve established an Is-It-Worth-It Checklist that I complete in my mind before I commit to visiting someone at the hospital.
Well, there are actually 2 lists – one for whether I should go for my own health, and the other for being a supportive, good friend.
The one for me is really just the one line of questioning – how bad does it hurt and will they give me excellent drugs to make it stop hurting?
The other, though, is kind of more complex, and until they start giving out the excellent drugs to the visitors, I’m probably always going to use it. It goes something like this:
Bird’s Is-It-Worth-It Checklist
1. How serious is the condition my friend is in the hospital for?
a.Could they possibly die? (Here I calculate the odds of survival, and adjust accordingly.)
b. Not life-threatening? Like plastic surgery or a mild heart-attack? (See you when you get out, dude!)
c. Odds are, this could be the end of the line for them. (What are the chances I’ll be seeing them in heaven? Just kidding! This one is unflinchingly rigid.)
2. Just how angry or hurt will they be if I just call them on the phone instead of physically going to the hospital?
a. Really, really angry? (Are they prone to kicking butt when displeased, and if so, can I take them down? Also, how bad will it hurt?)
b.Indifferent – (They’re super popular; they actually begin their recovery after they return home. The hospital visitors actually sign a guestbook walking into the patient’s room. $5 and a broke friend, my name can be there, too.)
c. Hard to tell – (They might act like they don’t care, but last time you did find a stuffed animal of yours boiling in the kitchen…It seemed like it was some kind of warning.)
d. They get the really cool drugs and won’t be lucid for weeks after they get out. (I’ll photoshop a picture of myself in front of the hospital, and presto! I’m a good friend!)
e.They hate visitors – I’d being doing them a favor! (I’ve never met someone I could use this one on.)
a. No. They’re flush with stuff, and a gift isn’t going to go very far with them unless I had to take out a loan to buy it. (Not likely these days.)
c. Depends on the kind of gift. Am I willing to go to the mall (another phobia of mine, though to a much lesser degree) and spend the ridiculous amount of money they charge for something from Hot Topic or Victoria’s Secret? (I’ve never answered yes to this one. It’s included because eventually one of my friends will get a boob job, and this one will finally come into play.)
d. No. This friend isn’t superficial or materialistic. Next time, be pickier about the kinds of friends you want.
4. Is it in any way possible to pretend I didn’t know they were in the hospital until they get out?
a. Yes, if I pretend I’ve just been super busy. Once upon a time, I could actually get away with this one. I’m notorious for being hard to get ahold of most of the time. These days, though, my friends all know me pretty well, (or I’ve already done this the first couple of times they were hospitalized), and this doesn’t fly anymore.
b. No. They ran ads on every television and radio station in Tulsa, left text messages and voice messages on every telephone I have, sent a telegram, two pigeon carriers, a note on my windshield, sent a note from my mother to my boss, and paid to have their name and room number written in the sky over my apartment. My presence is requested, and my absence will be noted and unhappily addressed when they are released.
5. How important is this friendship to me in the long run?
a. I can make new friends; giving me one of your kidneys doesn’t make us sisters under the skin, right? Actually, I find it pretty nerve-wracking to try to even talk to someone I don’t know, so this is a stupid thing to even be on my checklist. Still, it does cross my mind…
b. Will they quietly be hurt, or will I find a dead fish wrapped in newspaper on my doorstep? Quietly hurt, in my opinion, can actually be worse than a threat from the mafia that I’ll be sleeping with the fishes, especially since I live in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
c. Friendships are pretty important, and I really love this person a lot. Oh, fine!! I’ll go to the stupid hospital, but I’m not promising I won’t pee myself on your floor when I smell alcohol swabs, spray you with snot when I can’t breathe because I can mentally see the needle in your IV stabbing through the walls of your vein, or puke in your trash can when that horrible intercom voice blares through my head. Hey! It’s what you wanted!! Still want me to be your friend??