5 Fun Things to Do at the Hospital (And a Message for the Nutjobs Who Work There)

Apr 8 2015

After the last month’s maudlin, weepy, emotional post about my Dad’s open heart surgery, I thought I’d provide you with the other side of hospital life. The fun side, man! ‘Cause the hospital isn’t all bad, you know. It can actually be pretty fun.

Without further ado, here are:

5 Fun Things to Do at the Hospital

IMG_25791. Science Experiments

Hospitals are all about science, so hospital staff LOVE IT when you conduct science experiments there.

“AWESOME,” they think when they see you Doing Science. “We ADORE science, and there you are DOING it. What a GREAT IDEA,” and then they are very encouraging and want you to continue.

If you’re not sure what kind of science to do at a hospital, I can help you.

IMG_2578Did you know, for example, that if you buy a Seltzer water and then decide you wish you’d bought a Diet 7Up or Diet Sprite or Diet Anything That Doesn’t Taste Like Seltzer Water, you can add a yellow packet of sucralose like Splenda or Sweet Life, and the result is a geyser?

It’s true!


An enormous, spewing geyser of soda and Splenda all OVER the place.

Of course, it’s important to choose an appropriate spot to do science. Personally, I recommend the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit waiting area. I’ve found the quiet atmosphere really makes the exploding soda sounds and your cries of, “OH MY GOSH. OH MY GOSH. OH MY GOSH,” reverberate, and causes the most people possible to pay attention to your scientific demonstration. 

P.S. Be prepared to be soaked by the end of doing science. I hear that happens.

2. Case the Joint for Good Advice

You can find informational signs just everywhere in a hospital. I didn’t have a ton of extra time on my hands while I was at the hospital, but I did find some helpful new information, like this:


Keep that in mind next time you’ve punctured your groin. SAFETY FIRST.

3. Photograph EVERYTHING

Photograph everything — EVERYTHING — so your friend or family member who’s hospitalized can relive it later. They may THINK they don’t want to scrapbook this experience, but they’re probably not thinking straight what with all the surgery and trying not to strain their groin punctures. Ignore them and take pictures anyway. BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY, I always say. 

For example, when that large, burly man appears in the doorway with a razor and a grin and says cheerfully to your macho, Marine father, “Hi, I’m Gavin. I’m here to shave you.” YOU WILL NEVER GET THAT MOMENT BACK, friends…


… not EVER.

4. Decorate

Decorate the patient’s room. This is crucial. Hospital rooms are, well, a little cold, emotionally speaking, and scientific studies have shown conclusively that patients recover more quickly in warm, home-like environments. (I can’t site a reference for those studies because I just made that up, but that’s no reason to believe it isn’t true.) Therefore, you owe it to your friend or father to decorate his or her room with comfortable, familiar items.

picstitchThis does NOT have to be expensive or break the bank.

picstitch (1)For example, we decorated my dad’s room with artwork from his grandkids, cards from well wishers, and pages from his favorite magazines, like People and US Weekly.

Yes, my dad says he detests People and US Weekly.

And yes, he always grumbles and groans and generally throws fits while my sister-in-law and I thumb through them and talk about Kim Kardashian’s latest hair change. 

But he is just kidding. He secretly, deep down inside loves People and US Weekly. Deep, deep down inisde. And he doesn’t think we’re “wasting our lives” or “carelessly throwing away brain cells” for devoting an afternoon here or there to discussing who wore it best or why everyone’s wearing pasties to awards shows these days. 

That’s why we tore our favorite pics from these magazines and put them on his wall, far, far above where he could reach with his newly cracked chest and included encouraging messages like, “Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Cher and Nicki Minaj are rootin’ for you, Dad!” and “SEE? Kim’s TOTES sporting a ‘get well soon’ face for you!” because the only thing my dad likes better than People and US Weekly is when I butcher the English language with words like TOTES. 

5. Ask Questions

Seriously. ASK QUESTIONS, friends. Good healthcare means being part of the team. While doctors and nurses are specially trained in medicine, YOU need to advocate on behalf of the patient. 

Good hospitals, like the one where my dad was treated, will give you a number of opportunities and various methods for communication with the medical team. USE THEM.

When there’s a white board, for example, with questions like What Is Most Important To Me Today? and Questions for My Care Team, USE IT. ASK QUESTIONS. Important questions, so they know how to help.


Which brings me to the end of my list with one final, important note:

Dear Doctors and Nurses and Hospital Janitors,
and Dear Night Shifters, and Food Servers, and Bold Blood Draw-ers,
Dear All of You Nutjobs Who Make Healthcare Your Life’s Work,

Thank you.

For all of you who are spending your lives serving yahoos like us,
who went to school for countless hours
to learn to do work for which people aren’t always grateful, 
giving your time and your energy and your love

day in and day out,
to make the world a better, healthier, happier place,
one person and family at a time,


Your work is
outrageously beautiful,
and super gross,
and wildly awesome,
just like your patients,
and our family joins millions of others
(even the ones who forget to tell you),

in abiding gratitude for all you do.

With love,