Hospital tales

Amy Borer, Editorial Director
Amy Borer, Editorial Director

While I was eating lunch with a group of friends the other day, the topic of hospitals came up in the conversation. It seems that most of my friends have a fear of hospitals. Some are sickened by the smell, others just get “the creeps” when they walk through the door. One went so far as to say that she even fainted while visiting a relative in the hospital because of her fear.

As I sat bewildered listening to the conversation, all I could think was, “Why?” As strange as it may sound, the hospital is almost like a second home to me. My whole life, many of my relatives have worked at San Antonio Community Hospital in Upland. As a child I thought of it as somewhere to visit my grandmother or aunts, not a place for the sick and dying. For the past six years, I have either volunteered or worked at the hospital myself.

Not once has it ever occurred to me to be afraid of the hospital. In my eyes, the hospital is a place full of excitement. OK, maybe not excitement, but there is never a dull moment.

Sad to say, since I have been working at the hospital, I sometimes tend to forget about what is really going on around me. Maybe it is because I work in an office doing paperwork, not directly with the patients, but it is almost like the patients are not real people. They are just names on paper or bodies occupying beds.

The hospital has taken on a surreal atmosphere. I have definitely had some of my most interesting experiences within its four walls.

Perhaps the funniest experience was when I was only a sophomore in high school. My friend and I were candy stripers and happened to be wandering around a nursing unit one evening. As we rounded a corner, two elderly men in plaid leisure suits jumped out at us and asked if we would like to dance. When we were not quick with a response, the older of the two asked, “What’s wrong with girls today? They just don’t know how to meringue!”

I see this friend only a couple of times a year now, but each time we are together, one of us brings up the incident. It was at that moment we both realized the hospital was no ordinary place.

Whenever I venture out of the small office I work in and onto the main floors of the hospital, I am reminded of how surreal of an environment it really is.

To begin with, it is a completely controlled atmosphere. It may be pouring rain or blisteringly hot outside, but it is always a comfortable 70 degrees inside. And if the stark, white walls of the hospital get too much to bear, never fear. My hospital has built nice little glass atriums all over, putting nature where it does not feasibly belong.

Maybe the most surprising aspect of hospital life is the people just like me. The ones who are not making a career out of it. Unlike the nurses and doctors, many of us are just trying to work ourselves through college. We are the people who lose touch with the patients.

To us, it is almost like the patients do not exist at times. Thinking back, I realize I have had quite a few interesting conversations in front of patients, without even noticing they were there.

I have become friends with some of the young orderlies, and when I run into them on the floors, I talk to them just as I would any friend. I have had countless conversations about school, work or life in general, the whole time with a patient lying on a bed between us, waiting to be wheeled into surgery. I have even exchanged phone numbers waiting for an elevator. Now I wonder what the patients were thinking about all this time? They were probably scared to death, and there we were, just shooting the breeze.

So, why are people so afraid of hospitals? I never received a satisfying answer to my question. Next time any of you are in a hospital, try to forget the real reason you are there and try to see things from the other side. I am sure you will be in for quite an experience.

Latest Stories

Related articles

Kids’ book demystifies the doctor

A little boy cries in restlessness as he waits in the doctor’s office with his mother. He is unsure what will happen once his name is called, and is scared. To calm her son, the mother pulls out her recent children’s book purchase called, “Doctor, Doctor, What Do You Do?” to read with her son.

The Buzz: Looking back at 1996

Once again, the end of the year is upon us and pretty soon we'll be inundated with list after list of nominees for every award show imaginable. Forget the Oscars, the Grammys or any of the MTV awards, here's my list of nominees for 1996, based on my opinion, not any type of charts or polls.

The Buzz: Confessions of a music addict

Hi. My name is Amy and I'm addicted to music. Not just one type of music, but all kinds.

Survey reveals life after college

There is good news for seniors. According to a hiring survey by Michigan State University (MSU) released last week, this year’s college graduates will have an easier time finding jobs than their counterparts did a couple of years ago.