Monday, May 1, 2017

Why You Shouldn't Use Your Cellphone In The Waiting Room Of A Hospital

I'm not proud to admit this, but I used my cellphone in the hospital waiting room this week.

A minor infraction? Perhaps. A sign by the reception desk made it very clear that cellphone use was not permitted in the facility. It had a picture of a phone with a red line through it. It left very little room for interpretation.

Yet there were several patients fiddling with their phones in their seats as they waited for their names to be called. I even saw one man tapping away on a laptop, loudly and with intensity. It was not at all discreet. 

As tempting as it was to follow their lead, I was determined to resist the urge to pull out my iPhone. A rule is a rule, and I wanted to respect the wishes of the hospital staff.

After I took my seat, I sat quietly, with my hands folded in my lap. I was such a well-behaved patient.

Five minutes later, my phone was in my hand. Again, I'm not proud of it, but let me assure you (and the hospital) I had a very good reason for breaking the rule and using my phone. It wasn't to check email, text friends or scroll through Facebook posts.

It was to find out how to wear a hospital gown.

This was right after a nurse had called my name, handed me a gown and asked me to put it on. Simple enough, right? I wish. I didn't know what to do. I'd never worn a hospital gown before.

I could wear it with the opening in the front, I thought to myself. It's how I'd worn my dress shirts, my jackets, my bathrobes...basically, every piece of clothing I'd ever worn in my life.

However, I was reasonably sure that that was not the proper way to wear a hospital gown, that it should actually be worn with the opening in the back. That's how I remembered it from a photo in an article I once read, or a scene in a movie I once rented, or something like that. Maybe this was covered in an episode of "ER"? Why didn't I watch that show more often? It was on for 15 seasons. I had no excuse. 

So that's why I used my phone, to Google instructions on how to wear a hospital gown. I needed answers, and fast.

The first results page told me everything I needed to know about the popularity of the hospital gown. One of the top links: a news article on the "hated hospital gown." Further down the page: another story on the "dreaded hospital gown."

Oh, good. I wasn't the only one who hated and dreaded it.

I clicked on a message board for a pregnancy website that answered my question. As I suspected, a hospital gown is worn with the opening in the back (according to those who responded to a post on the subject, anyway). So that's how I put it on. I was grateful for the site's input, as well as for its great tips on how to decorate my next baby shower.

Feeling much better about the whole situation, I left the waiting room, changed into the gown and began to walk down the hallway to meet with the doctor. I had on my gown, the opening was in the back, I hadn't messed things up, and I was pulling off the look, to boot.

And then I saw another patient in the hallway wearing his hospital gown with the opening in the front.

Hmm. Maybe I did mess things up? I started to second-guess myself. What do I do, I wondered. Do I ignore what I just saw? Do I reverse the gown? Who do I trust? The strangers on an online message board, or a stranger in the hallway?

I chose to trust the stranger in the hallway, and adjusted my gown in private so that the opening was in the front.

I have no idea if I made the right decision. I didn't get any feedback one way or the other from the nurse or doctor. I guess it wasn't such a big deal. It was just a hospital gown. Who cares how you wear it? Seems insignificant. As long as you're comfortable, that's what ought to matter. In retrospect, I shouldn't have let a handful of people on the internet influence how I wore my hospital gown.

Lesson learned. This is why you shouldn't use your cellphone in the waiting room of a hospital.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter at @myemptythoughts for more of my comedy.