Written by Beth Friday

Voices

How to be a hospital badass

Looking forward to a stint in hospital? Allow Beth Friday to help you nail it.

Illustration by Joanna Neary.

Illustration by Joanna Neary.

So, I’m a pretty serious runner, and, by ‘serious’, I mean, racing round tracks for medals, not doing sprints while chin-stroking and pondering the national debt.

Anyway, this activity is not without physical cost and to fix my latest injury I had to go under the knife. And the post-op days of limping and leave gave me plenty of time to reflect on my own personal guide to Doing Hospital.

1. Get your game face on

Negotiate when being told to remove all makeup pre-op. No self-respecting woman should enter a major life event with substandard eyebrows.

Yes, makeup renders it difficult to monitor vital signs; however, speaking as a 90s tweezer survivor, if eyebrow thickness is a sign of life, I expired two decades ago. (Plus, canny pencilling is a pragmatic way to offset the glamour deficit caused by surgical socks.) After you inevitably lose this argument, cry liberally: it is the one time your eyeliner won’t run.

2. Don’t accidentally sabotage your own gambling plans

If you have a wager with your best mate that you can last longer in the general anaesthetic countdown-slowly-from-10-to-1 thing they do on TV, don’t tell the anaesthetist. Tell them and they won’t let you do it. This is on account of it ‘not being a competition’ or something.

The last thing you’ll remember is pleading, “Come ON – it’s really important! It’s worth a bottle of…” before you wake up in recovery, morphined up and champagned down.

3. Be present

Gifts invariably reflect the perceived character and priorities of the recipient. Your Get Well offerings, therefore, provide a direct route to personal growth. Eschewing the traditional flowers and fruit, my pal bought me pencil rubbers shaped like dumbbells, a book called What if? and a packet of prosciutto.

In her words, “I just thought, ‘What does Beth like?’ and the answer was, ‘Picking up heavy things, asking questions and meat.'” Downplay the wild happiness this elicits when in earshot of the psych team.

4. Keep your upcycling plans on the down-low

Don’t ask to keep the drip bit in your arm for “more efficient Prosecco-drinking at a later time”. Apparently this is not an appropriate use of NHS resources and comes with considerable risk. Neither should you channel your inner MacGyver and fashion a replacement with bendy straws, sticky tape and a safety pin. Wearing aviators will not mitigate the risk of septicaemia, death or wine spillage.

5. Doing as you’re told is for squares

Don’t listen when people in uniform tell you must return home from hospital accompanied. Embrace the solo mission from ward to flat as a challenge, owning your light-headed wobble along the Northern Line. You are not a discharged patient; you are a hospital escape warrior, laughing in the face of rules.

Definitely do not tell them you had to cling to the wall at Camden Town to stop your dizzy head and imminent plummet earthwards. It was late at night in Camden Town – you were not fainting; you were blending in.

6. Get your game face on #2

Remember you’re a badass and must never show weakness. In the rare event that your post-op recovery is punctuated by an involuntary yelp of pain, cancel this out by shouting, “IT DIDN’T HURT IT DIDN’T HURT I’M A NINJA I’M A WARRIOR I HAVE THE POWERRRRRR!” before holding your imaginary sword aloft and backflipping out of the room (to whimper and cry out of sight).

Disclaimer: This article is for comedic purposes only. Always consult a GP or health professional before embarking on any programme of hospital tips. Your shares can go down as well as up. If in doubt: get a lift home from your mam, eat grapes and find more productive routes to badassery… I hear track running’s pretty cool.

@fridaybeth

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Written by Beth Friday

Beth Friday is a writer and comedian. She’s also nearly a doctor, doing her PhD thesis on why people fancy each other.