For many chronic patients, trips to the hospital are inevitable and all too frequent. I have some advice about how to make the most of these trips. The first rule of a successful stay in the hospital is to avoid the dreaded roommate. There are several ways you can accomplish this. Based on experience, I suggest coming in with some sort of virulent, infectious disease, like the flu. This will guarantee you an immediate quarantine. Make sure to let everyone know you did get your flu shot, though; this way they don’t shoot lasers out their eyes at you like you have intentionally screwed things up for everyone. This way they feel sorry for you, and you might just get some extra Jell-O or something.
Once the symptoms start going away, you will quickly become a candidate for a room change. Someone else has come in and needs to be quarantined, because they heard about your tricks and are trying to use them against you. In this case, the only real option is to develop a secondary infection to that first virulent infection. Pneumonia is a good choice. Nobody wants to share a room with someone trying to hack up a lung. Even in a research hospital, the cultures will take several days to come back, so you can rest easy that your room assignment will not change.
The downside is if you have anything scheduled requiring anesthesia, those folks go into such a frenzy you might seriously consider requesting they take some of their own happy meds. Nothing makes an anesthesiologist go ballistic quite like a patient with pneumonia. Seriously, those guys were freaked out.
Now, you might think this is enough. However, just in case those antibiotics kick in and you start feeling better before you are supposed to be discharged, nothing will put you in contact isolation faster than developing some GI distress from the antibiotics. You have now bought yourself at least 48 more hours of peace and quiet.
Some of you might think this is a lot of trouble to go to just to avoid having to listen to a stranger’s television. I tend to agree, except for one thing – isolation rooms have all their own equipment, their own bathroom, their own everything. If you have to be sick, you might as well do it in luxury, right? Although next time I might try being less dramatic, just for a change of pace.