The Prize For Best Use of a Hospital Gown Goes To…

I went for my annual mammogram this week. That’s not the problem.

The problem is the hospital gown that’s issued to cover my bits while I sit in the waiting room and, well, wait.

With all the technology we have, all the electronic distractions we keep reinventing (what version of the iPhone are we up to, anyway?), the fact that we can send a Rover to Mars and James Cameron can plunge into the Mariana Trench, the deepest point on earth, and we are still stuck with an ugly bedsheety thing with two slits and ties on each side that no one has ever figured out how to tie and get them to come out even.

The very nice volunteer who directed me to the changing area tried her best to explain how the gown is supposed to tie. “You thread the tie on the left through the little opening under the right armhole, and it goes around and meets the shorter tie on the left…”

I had to stop her. I figured by the time she got done with the directions, I’d be getting to the office around lunchtime. At that moment, it was 8 a.m.

I did the best I could, putting the longer tie on the left through the right armhole, since that little hole underneath the armhole was microscopic (like trying to thread a 747 through a kaleidoscope before you’ve had your coffee), then tossed the tie over my head and knotted it with the smaller tie. I looked like a human cat’s cradle game.

I got into my appointment, and the technician didn’t even blink. Of course, they’ve seen everything. For them, access is a matter of parting the gown’s Velcro© tabs at the shoulder, placing tata on cold machine, press, squeeze, shoot, release and repeat a few times. No doubt they’ve seen patients come in with the gown worn every which way, in an effort to maintain coverage at the cost of dignity.

It could be worse, of course. Those classy inpatient gowns, with the backs so open that a “Wide Load” banner seems appropriate to hang back there, always seem to have exactly one little set of string ties at the neck – and a string is always missing. And how about the color choices, huh? Gag Green, Barf Blue and Color Gone Gray.

Maybe there’s a recent college grad, still looking for work, who can do something great for humankind while he/she sends out those resumes and hunts down the job they’ve always dreamed of. How about designing a hospital gown that works and looks good?

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