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Korinthia Klein is a violin maker and the mother of three in Milwaukee WI. She, along with her husband run a violin store called Korinthian Violins. Korinthia also performs in her area with the Festival City Symphony and the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra. She currently teaches at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. A former Babble blogger, Klein currently continues to write on her personal website, The Quiet Corner.

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Hospital Mysteries

By Korinthia Klein |

My dad just moved into in-house rehab.  This is good news.  He needed to fit into a very narrow band of criteria in order to qualify for it; too weak, not a candidate, too strong, they can’t take him either.  He’s just the right amount of upright but wobbly to qualify.  This will give him a chance to gain some strength while buying us some time to prepare for him coming home, so we’re happy.

In the meantime, I’ve had many long days to contemplate things about the hospital.  I think my biggest complaint would be that there is no organized system of making sure the different specialists can talk to the family.  It’s very hit or miss.  Out of 12 hours by my dad’s side yesterday, the 20 minutes I left to walk around and get some feeling back in my legs was the same time a flurry of doctors came through to provide an update.  I love my dad, but he is not a reliable source for relaying medical information, so we have no idea what the doctors said.  I know the medical people visiting his room have charts to refer to, to keep them up to speed, but there should be a layperson’s version.  A single page report at the end of the day listing the doctors who visited and what they had to say, along with times of blood draws and what medicines were administered or any tests that were done along with their results, etc.  How hard could that be?  Boy that would be helpful.

Also, the food service seems to have no connection to the doctors’ orders.  We kept receiving trays of food for my dad filled with things he wasn’t allowed to eat.  Why isn’t the hospital menu divided clearly into categories, like ‘liquid diet’ and ‘soft diet,’ etc.?  My dad is easing his way back into eating real food and the kitchen sent up potato chips.  We had to argue with him about how they were too much for his system and confiscate the bag like he was a kid, but they never should have sent it up in the first place.

On a less medically related note, I’ve also had time during my average 12 hour shifts at the hospital to explore the gift shop, parking lot, and cafeteria here.  And there are some things we just don’t understand.  These are my hospital mysteries.

There is the lady in the booth in the parking lot.  She waves to us every morning.  When nobody is in the booth the gate still goes up on its own to let us into the lot, so that appears to be automatic.  We have no idea what the lady in the booth is really doing.  But we wave to her and hope she likes her job.

There is a dramatic staircase to nowhere that I don’t get.

The cafeteria appears to be filled with food, but there is not much to eat.  There aren’t many places to go to get a break from the hospital room, so we end up in the cafeteria a lot.  I think I’m hungry until I get there.  And then I look at each thing and think, “Nah.”  Arno ended up with a tray of cottage cheese, beets, yogurt and a banana.  He says his only regret is he didn’t put more beets on the cottage cheese.  Although, to be fair, that didn’t look that different from meals I’ve seen Arno assemble by choice, so hard to judge.  But I paid almost five dollars for a sad little turkey burger which I ate while walking around and then was bored again.  But I keep looking at all the food and wondering why there’s nothing to eat.

But here is the real mystery in the cafeteria:  The “multi-purpose spoons.”

Apparently the knives and forks can only serve a single purpose, but spoons are multi-functional.  In my opinion this merely shows a lack of imagination on the part of people labeling the knives and forks, but still, it’s intriguing.  (If you are bored out of your mind and paying your third trip of the day to the cafeteria because it is the only place to go.)

In any case, my dad is looking more like himself, and soon my brother, Barrett, will be here to assist for awhile and I can head home to Milwaukee.  I’m glad I’ve been able to help here, but I miss Ian and the kids, and I’m sure there is a lot of work waiting for me at the violin store.  But maybe I’ll get caught up sooner than expected now that I know I can count on the versatility of all the spoons I have lying around.

I’m looking forward to being home–no mystery there.

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About Korinthia Klein

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Korinthia Klein

Korinthia Klein is a violin maker and the mother of three in Milwaukee WI. She, along with her husband run a violin store called Korinthian Violins. Korinthia also performs in her area with the Festival City Symphony and the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra. She currently teaches at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. A former Babble blogger, Klein currently continues to write on her personal website, The Quiet Corner. Read bio and latest posts → Read Korinthia's latest posts →

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6 thoughts on “Hospital Mysteries

  1. diana says:

    glad to hear about your father’s progress! maybe one of the nurses stations has a list of take-out places that could deliver to the hospital? i am sure it would be more expensive than the cafeteria, but a lot tastier! also your thoughts on spoons gave me a chuckle. i never knew what versatility they have!

  2. SarahB says:

    I’m glad your father’s moved to rehab. Hang in there!

  3. Deborah says:

    I’ve heard that some doctors don’t like having to deal with the families (you know, because *they* know best), so they purposely show up when the families aren’t around. Stupid stuff – it should not be allowed.

    As for the spoons, I think they are combination soup spoons and teaspoons. They made me laugh, though. And why not multipurpose knives? They could be combo butter knives and steak knives. :)

  4. DWK says:

    My boyfriend’s mother is in a sub-acute stroke rehab right now, and we have spent a good bit of time in hospitals since October (his father was admitted to the ER twice, when it rains, it pours.) At many turns–and I’ve noted this with my own grandmother, and with my mother as well when she had cancer two years ago–the hospital staff has simply botched certain orders. Food, medication, information–my boyfriend is the type to assume that everyone in charge knows what is happening, while I am the type to sit by the bed with a clipboard–the hospitals are complete craziness. The patient can’t be expected to manage his or her own care–someone’s got to be on top of things, aggressively. And since you never know when the doctors will make their rounds, or even who those doctors will be, it’s slippery and chaotic.

    My best friend advises having someone there (a family member or friend) as much as possible–and have a notebook or clipboard that you hand off in shifts. Write all questions down. Whenever the doctor shows up, whoever’s there corrals him or her. It’s hectic and upsetting, and I’m so sorry you’re going through this right now. My thoughts and best wishes are with you.

  5. kd says:

    Ugh, how hard for all of you!
    Have you asked for a “family meeting”? This is a way to get all of the teams, the attending MD, primary nurse(s), and family together around a table to discuss where things are at and what the plan is.

    If your hospial doesn’t do this routinely (I work in peds, so it is pretty common), ask to speak with your dad’s case manager or “care coordinator” or whatever they call this role at your hospital.

    Barring that – let his nurse and the charge nurse know that you guys need more information and help planning for his care!

    It drives me nuts when hospitals don’t do a good job with this stuff. Too many people get bogged down by their day’s checklist, and loose sight of the big picture.

    Sending your family good wishes -

    1. Korinthia says:

      Thanks everyone.

      I’m sure part of the problem with the disorganization around my dad’s experience in the hospital is that he was admitted on Christmas. Aside from his surgeon, I’m not sure he got real or consistent care until after New Year’s. There was so much turnover around and after the holidays it was amazing. Still, it should be easier to keep families and patients as up to date as possible.

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