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The last place you want to go

I love science. This is not a rant against science. I work in a science museum for goodness sake. I want us to improve our science test scores, believe more in evolution and less in people riding dinosaurs a la Flintstones, and use technology to save our planet and humanity.

But I'm also of the growing opinion that a hospital is the last place I'd want to go if I was actually sick.

Last night Kelly asked me if I think a Higher Power is acting on behalf of Leda and when I answered yes she laughed a little because I'm not spiritual. I corrected her--I'm not religious. I don't like when things get institutionalized. I don't like when people or organizations resist change.

And a little lot of what we're experiencing in the NICU has to do with simple human traits. We're set in our ways and we're flawed people. The hospital is no different. Leda's care and our experience as parents has so much to do with who her nurse is for 12 hours or 8 hours. The operation of the building itself seems stuck in "we're a teaching hospital and this is just the way things are done." Rules that don't make sense. Medical advice that doesn't make sense.

I'm not saying we're not getting good care. We are. It passes the test of everybody still being alive. Heh. But on a deeper level, the place seems to function on "medicine first, people second." It's not Loyola's fault. Some hospitals are better than others. And we want to be where the machines are shiny and the hallways clean.

Kelly said it first and I've run with is great, technology is great, medicine is great, but you want them right outside the door ready to come in when you ask. I/we don't want the procedures and the drugs and the rounds and the monitors to run our lives. And it's frustrating that all that science sometimes gets in the way of people actually getting better. Or forget physical health. It's dehumanizing and depressing to have your humanity boiled down to a number or condition.

And all that has me questioning where we draw the line with the Hippocratic Oath about "doing no harm."

There was a nurse this morning who had some definite ideas about how to "correctly" remove a bottle from a newborn's mouth, when during a feeding to burp, and later during our visit we overheard a discussion about vitamins for infants in the first year. Full disclosure: our ped recommended vitamins for Cole which we never bought. Leda may be a different story, but I would like see the longterm studies on vitamin use in the first year as compared to those who don't take vitamins. Sometimes even the scientists forget that there needs to be evidence before we start making rules.

As an aside, I find it interesting that we named our daughter after a very mythos side of the brain. If you're a philosophy, religion, psychology, science type you probably know the historical contrasts with logos. 

We're ready to bring her home. I know she needs to take all her feedings by mouth, pass a carseat test, etc. etc. But we're tired of being institutionalized. We're ready to set our own schedule, make the rules that work for our family, and settle back into our lifestyle.

And if I ever am ill, I'm not sure a hospital is the place I want to go. You know that feeling where you're sick and know you need to be seen by someone, but the last thing you want to do is fill out forms in the doctor's office or spend 30 minutes watching bad tv or reading bad magazines in the waiting room?

The most depressing thing about the hospital, to me, hasn't been watching babies crash and have medical staff rush to their side. Or tick by on life support. Or families crowded around surgeons downstairs hoping for good news. I have nothing but respect for the men and women who go there every day and try to heal. And extra respect for those who do because it's not the most pleasant place to be. What bothers me more is the needless stuff, the inability to relax, the round-the-clock focus on one thing. I guess it's a little like complaining that the food is bad--nobody is there for the fabulous pool or great mixed drinks.

But, you know, the elevator could smell a little bit less like skunk. Or, as we call it, the skunk-a-vator.