February 28, 2010

Living at Mayo Clinic Hospital was like Tom Hanks in "Terminal"

Walking through the huge expanse of the Mayo Clinic Hospital Arizona at 3:30 in the morning made me realize I was like Tom Hanks living in the airport in "Terminal"!

I woke up in my recliner/bed in the Critical Care Waiting Room a few nights ago and reached for my empty bottle of water. I tried to go back to sleep hoping I could forget how thirsty I was. It didn't work! I remembered the vending machine down the hall... but first I had to find my keys to my lockers. I wasn't sure which one held my purse so I had to open both. Of course I ended up having to take everything out to find a dollar in the bottom of my purse...trying to do it quietly so I wouldn't wake the other ladies tossing and turning in the other chairs. It wasn't far to the vending machines on the same floor just around the corner. The wording didn't make sense, but I finally figured it out that they didn't work!

I had passed by a drinking fountain, but thought it wasn't wise to drink water in any hospital where germs are said to lurk on every surface, where sanitizer machines hang from most walls. Now I was wide awake so I thought I'd just take the elevator to the lobby floor where the cafeteria was located thinking I would surely find another vending machine. It didn't happen! Hospitals are like any large building when there are no people around--creepy! Back upstairs by way of the elevator to the drinking fountain with all the hidden germs praying for protection. At 4:00 am I was back in bed thinking I wonder how many hidden cameras recorded my wanderings.

My only connection to the outside world, my cell phone was dying another night...so I made my way down the same elevator, through the lobby, and cafeteria doors to our car a few feet away. I located my phone charger and was anxious to get back to the warmth as evenings in the desert can be chilly, especially with no jacket and slippers. The doors refused to automatically open as I neared. I had no idea that no one is allowed to reenter the facilities after 9:00 pm. Some workers were watching television looking in the opposite direction while another was vacuuming close by. Knocking on the door failed to catch anyone's attention, but I eventually caught one guy's eye. He shook his head "no" and turned away.

I went to the front door and of course it was locked too with instructions to go to the emergency room... wherever that is! About that time I heard a raised voice in the distance calling me to come back. Somebody had a change of heart! Afraid he would change his mind, I hurried back to the cafeteria door where he was holding it open. He chided me saying "when you leave you are not allowed to reenter and I am not allowed to let you enter." I said, "You mean you aren't going to let me in?" He shrugged and told me to go ahead.

While the above stories were short lived challenges for me I have found living at the Mayo Clinic Hospital a great experience as I've observed the excellent care received by my husband. Everyone has served us with compassion and a smile, not to mention the medical skill and organization exhibited consistently on every hand. I know because I've lived in Mayo Clinic Hospital!

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