Hospital Gown Wisdom: Clear Thinking In an Unclear Moment

Our lives consist of a series of negotiations made between us and others or sometimes simply within ourselves. The latter variety, the ones we make within the confines of our inner selves, provide operational space for us to accomplish tasks, cope with circumstance, make sense of senseless events or pass through life cloaked, undetected and unscathed. We agree in that last instance, for example, to hide away in a lockbox the uncertainties of day-to-day existence along with the someday certainty of non-existence — what we call mortality.

Peek-a-booing our way from one moment to the next, we convince ourselves that what is out of sight truly is out of mind and that all that matters is the temporal, those things we can presently touch and see. But, just as in that age old child’s game, the thing from which we hide waits for us just beyond covered eyes. And every now and again the most healthy play is to uncover and look around to see plainly what’s in view.

My moment of uncovering came a week ago in a hospital ER while waiting for doctors to explain my unexpected visit there. Moments before, I’d arrived in the back of an ambulance which brought me from home after things “just didn’t feel right.”

Fortunately, now I’m well; everything tested normally. But, in those brief moments while you wait for physicians to return with test results, nothing is certain and the broad spectrum of what-ifs that we negotiate from our daily existence become enduring possibilities. Those moments of waiting with an IV start taped to one arm, a BP cuff on the other and diodes all about provide an opportunity to reflect and recapture perspective.
Here are some things I realized as I waited.

1. You don’t realize, until you need to, just how little we say “I love you.” Even for those like me who say it often enough, it’s still never enough.

2. You don’t realize, until you must, just how little say you actually have in the matter until the matter abruptly and definitively thunderbolts into view and reminds you so.

3. You don’t realize how little most things matter until the stuff that truly does pulls up to your driveway with red and blue lights flashing. Precious little rises to the level of urgency and priority we often assign it. Most of those occurrences we daily escalate to matters of life and death truly aren’t that at all. True life and death matters need no announcement card.

4. Why do we so often get so worked up over so little?

5. We live, we learn, we love and then what? Where does the living and loving go when the living and loving are gone?


6. Whatever belief system you adopt, or whether you adhere to one at all, you’d better be not just comfortable in your beliefs but INFINITELY SO. Don’t merely believe something for the sake of saying you do or convincing others of that capacity, but believe it deeply. How much of what you proclaim are you willing to bet your life on in a moment’s notice?

7. The door steps to heaven or hell are down the block, not down the freeway.

8. Any day you can walk out of a hospital is a good day. Any day you stay out is a better one.

Just some random thoughts from a guy in a gown.


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