Day 6

Kage Baker was a keen observer of hospital decor.  Through most of our life, she was the one visiting me; though I rather made up for that in her last year.

She had several amazing rooms at the Arroyo Grande Community Hospital. They’d just completed a fund raiser, where various donors got to select the decor of newly-refurbished hospital rooms; Kage got some hilarious ones. The two best were the Jungle Room – leopard print wallpaper, prints and photos of all sorts of wildlife – and the Wine Room. The Wine Room had flocked wallpaper with life-sized velour bunches of grapes, and pictures of vineyards in all seasons. It also had faux crown molding – Kage was crazy about crown molding.

I’ve had far too much occasion since she died to check out hospital decor on my own. Cedars Sinai, for instance, is notable for the truly amazing number of aquaria it contains. In some cases, they take up entire walls, or are built into floor to ceiling pillars. The best example, I thought, is in the IV Therapy Day Room – rows of nice recliner chairs in a vast room, under a glass atrium roof held up by glass pillars full of tropical fish. I used to lie there under the shadows of birds’ wings and darting fish, and wonder what would happen if an earthquake hit …

Glendale Memorial was in the throes of a refit when I was there for an extra stent in my coronary arteries. However, their corporate colour was a lovely shade of blue, so the accent colours everywhere were very nice. Also, half their rooms have a view of the Griffith Park hills, which is hard to beat. Best of all, they’re close to TWO Starbucks – and I always need real coffee smuggled in, since what they serve in hospitals is vile.

Next Monday, I report to USC Verdugo Hills, in La Canada. It’s set on a hill, amid parking lots hidden in groves of trees; the architecture is very smooth and modern, with lots of polished stone accents. The waiting room is full of comfy chairs, and has a tea and coffee bar for anxious relatives. There are no aquaria, but there’s a beautiful rock garden at floor level – it was obviously planned as a water feature, but for now the pretty little creek is a gravelled Zen pathway. It needs rain. The corporate colour is sand, alas; I guess it’s soothing, but it makes for dull fuzzy slippers.But the views from the windows should be keen. And the gift shop carries See’s chocolates.

When I was 18, and had the original ureter repair that will now be utterly removed at last, I was in Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles. See, when I started seeing a doctor for the pain in my side, I was 14 – when it finally became obvious even to my surgeon that I needed intervention, I still had a pediatric nephrologist. So they admitted me to Children’s.

That was hysterically funny, in many ways – they had to send next door to Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital for gowns that would fit me: I was neither tall nor fat at 18, but I came equipped with breasts and hips that couldn’t be accommodated by the Disney-printed gowns all the other patients got. They had to send next door for a pre-op prep kit, too – the ones for kids don’t come with razors, or adult catheters; in fact, they eventually had to send next door for  a surgical tech who was more up-to-date in catheterizing a grown woman. I was very popular with the residents and interns, though. I followed orders, I could hold an adult conversation; and Kage and Kimberly smuggled in pizza. And there were, you know, the breasts …

Now I’m a fat old lady, of course. But I will be a good patient, just because I will be so relieved to be done with this damned kidney! And I know that Kimberly will still smuggle me in whatever I need: there is a good coffee shop AND an exemplary bagel store right across the street. Always remember to be hospitalized someplace near good drinks and snacks, Dear Readers – and make sure your sister has a biiig purse.

Man, with bagels and decent coffee – and my kidney exiled to the Outer Darkness, wailing and gnashing its teeth – I’ll be as happy as a clam.


About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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4 Responses to Day 6

  1. mizkizzle says:

    If you were a rich person who gave lots of money to a hospital and were allowed to decorate a room, what would it look like?
    West Coast hospitals sound much nicer than the ones in Manhattan. They don’t even have real coffee at Beth Israel, or they say they don’t. When you wake up from having extensive surgery in which your spine is buttressed with titanium and filled in with ground-up cadaver bone (Dr. Frankenstein must have assisted with the surgery) and your head is hurting like hell from the anesthetic, the nurses tell you there’s no regular coffee, but cheer up! You can have decaf!
    That’s when you want to kill them all.
    It’s so exciting that your kidney is almost outta there! Will they let you see it once it’s out?


    • Kate says:

      Bookshelves and good windows and deeply upholstered armchairs – in fact, I’d want a hospital room to look as much like a library as possible. The way that maternity suites try to look like bedrooms.

      Alas, they will not let me keep my kidney. If they would, I’d have a scorn and immolation party; we’d all stand around and say rude things to it, and then cremate it with malicious intent. However, my nephrologist wants to study it; I think to see how the damned worked as long as it did …


  2. Jane says:

    Wow, all the hospitals I’ve visited were cookie cutter bland, with different forms of pastel prints on the walls! You really are an expert, sorry to say! If you are confined past Tuesday, I can bring a Starbucks. What’s your preference?


    • Kate says:

      t’s just a matter of keeping your eyes open and noticing details, Jane. No place is actually bland, that has people in it. People do the strangest things to mke their enviroments more comfortable … USC Verdugo Hills has had a fund-raiser going on all October – buy a lottery ticket and a pickle for a dollar. There are huge jars of pickles on every ward and department desk. It’s in service of some charity, but the main thing you wonder as you go past is – WHY do these people has pickles everywhere? Life is just endlessly interesting. And, FYI, my favourite Starbucks is just a plain latte – no sugar or flavours, just coffee and milk. Though I am likely not supposed to drink any for a week or so afterwards ….


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