Sunday, January 3, 2010

I Snuck My Daughter Into The Hospital

A friend of mine has been in the hospital since New Years Eve. Thinking that I might brighten up his New Years for a bit, I decided that I should pay him a visit. With my daughter in tow, I braved the bone chillingly cold weather and headed to the hospital. As I walked past the nurse's station towards his room, I heard a shrill, accusatory voice call out after me.

"Sir...." it bellowed. I knew that tone of voice. That's the same tone of voice that my long suffering high school teachers, college professors and various bosses often used on me when they were suspecting me of shenanigans. I did what I always do in that situation; I ignored the voice.

I continued down the corridor, my daughter lagging two steps behind me. The nurse made two more attempts to get my attention by yelling "Sir!" at me. Again, I ignored them. The goal was in sight, I could see the door to my friend's room. Suddenly, my path was blocked by a burly nurse who didn't seem very pleased to be ignored.

She would have to make the first move. I refused to speak up right away. Instead, I shot her a look that said "Thanks for stopping me, now you're in my way. Please move".

"You can't bring her in here", the nurse said calmly to me as she motioned to my daughter.

How would I respond? My mind began to run through my available options. Should I bite her? Should I make a break for it? Should I bite her THEN make a break for it? Both options would probably get security called on me and simply biting her would doubtlessly only net me a mouth full of flab. I decided to play stupid.

I acted like I didn't understand English. I'm fluent in French so I began to rattle off inquiries in a manner that would indicate that I didn't understand a word she was saying. Nurse Ratchet was undeterred and repeated her statement, louder this time, as if she thought that she could yell so loud that the information would somehow force itself into my mind and make me understand.

I threw my hands up and shook my head at her and tried to get around her, hoping she'd have such little passion for her job that she'd let us by. No such luck. She sidestepped us and blocked our path again. The foreign act wasn't going to work. It was time to switch tactics.

"Is there something I can help you with?" I asked, trying to sound sweet and innocent but failing miserably.

The nurse told me that the CDC has issued recommendations that children under the age of 16 should not be allowed to visit patients in order to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as H1N1.

"She's 16", I said confidently.

"She's a little short for 16", the nurse said, obviously not believing me.

"For your information," I said in a mockingly appalled tone, "she has Achondroplasia and she is VERY sensitive about it. Now, if you'll just move aside, we'll accept your apology and be on our way."

No dice. I may was well have been talking to a wall. Nurse Ratchet kept explaining to me "You can have your daughter wait in the waiting room, but you can't take her into a patient room with you".

I thought about asking Nurse Ratchet how one becomes magically less virulent upon reaching the age of 16. I wanted to explain that I myself was a higher risk to the patient as I hadn't been vaccinated against H1N1 whereas my daughter had. I considered explaining that, were she to screen both of us, I would be the bigger risk because I had a slight cough. This would all fall on deaf ears, though. Nurse Ratchet had made her mind up. I was not getting past her.

I turned around, lead my daughter back to the floor lobby and we waited in the waiting room for about five minutes. Then, we walked out, this time taking the long way around so we'd be walking on the other side of the nurse's station. My daughter is short enough that she can't be seen over the nurse's station, so, this time, she walked right past without anyone noticing.

The lesson here is that, if you can't get through them, try going around them.

I'm also told that the CDC dropped their recommendations on December 29, so, really, I didn't do anything wrong.


  1. Good on you. Nurses like coming across as grumpy library teachers.
    But just because the rules changed afterward does not make it right to break them :-) If we all adopt that kind of attitude it ends up costing at some point.

  2. Yeah, perhaps it wasn't the best example to set for the kiddo. Still, I felt the rule was so incredibly arbitrary that obeying it would lend it more power than it deserves. If the hospital staff is truly concerned about spreading communicable diseases from visitors to patients, then there needs to be some form of screening. If the concern is focused the other way, then make the visitors aware of the risks to their own health. Making up some magic number based upon junk statistics makes zero sense.

    The crazy thing is, when we visited the next day, nobody stopped us at all.

  3. i hear ya on this one. true, maybe not a great to sneak, but this was for a worthy cause, and can't fault you for that :)