University of Nevada, Reno




Thanksgiving in the Hospital 

By Linda


LindaIf you can avoid being in the hospital during the holidays, do it. No matter how much faux holly or faux pumpkins they put on your food tray, you’re still sick, confined to a bed, and alone.

If you are lucky, family and friends may visit and bring you gifts, treats and cards in an effort to bring you jolly-jolly, ho-ho, happy-happy and pretend normalcy.

And so … ? You end up trying to cheer up your visitors, no matter how weak or sick or tired you feel. ...

While at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica with back problems, I discovered St. John’s had the best hospital food I had ever eaten or have since eaten.  For example, every Wednesday, we were served freshly made chocolate marshmallow cake with fudge icing. Yummy. Mmm, chocolate! I always finished my piece. ...

Thanksgiving Day arrived, and I was looking forward to a juicy turkey dinner with dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, just as promised on the hospital menu.

My sister, who was in graduate school in Claremont, California, decided to drive to the hospital to see me. I really was so thrilled she was coming to visit.

I told my sister the food was good at the hospital and that I could order a tray for her so we could eat together and chat.

“Yuck,” she said. “I don’t want any hospital food.” Nothing I said changed her mind, and she convinced me to refuse my tray so I could eat the turkey dinner from a diner in Westwood. The diner was FAMOUS, and it was supposed to have GREAT food. It was near the UCLA campus, and my sister claimed she had eaten there several times in the past during her many trips to shop in Westwood Village.

As for her Thanksgiving dinner, she was planning to eat with her friend Rosemary and Rosemary’s family at their home.

No diner meal or hospital meal for her.

At about noon, the nurse’s aide brought me a tray of lovely turkey and the fixings. It looked and smelled delicious. I was tempted to keep it, but said, “No, thank you. My sister is bringing me dinner.”

Even though I had not ordered my hospital meal, they brought me one anyway, and the aide could not believe I was refusing it. “Are you sure?” she asked with incredulity.

Oh boy.

At about 2 p.m., my sister entered my room. She was carrying a big paper bag; inside was my dinner in a box. My sister opened the box, and a foul (no pun intended) odor filled the room. It smelled so bad. Grayish slabs of so-called turkey sat on instant mashed potatoes, along with gray stuffing and a tiny spoonful with crusty cranberry sauce.

I looked at my sister. “You’ve got to be kidding,” said my look of disgust. “Still, there’s pie,” I thought.

In another box was a grayish mass of questionable pumpkin pie. Smelly, horrible.

I didn’t want the mouse turkey or the mouse pie.

My sister didn’t seem to get it, and she was very pleased with herself for all the trouble she’d gone through to get me a non-hospital meal.  I could see she wanted me to be grateful. I tried. I repeatedly thanked her, but she could tell I wasn’t pleased. This made her angry.

“Aren’t you even going to eat it after I spent all this money getting it for you and coming up to see you?

“You know how I HATE hospitals,” she said as she stuck up her nose. “They smell,” she added.

I thought, “What you smell is the rotted gray mouse meal; that’s what stinks.”

Gingerly I took off a bite of the mouse meat. It didn’t taste like turkey. Perhaps it was yesterday’s mystery meal, but it tasted worse than it looked, and that’s saying something.

Then I tried the gray lump of mouse pie. What was it? Not pumpkin; perhaps, modeling clay.

Who knew?

Seeing my lack of enthusiasm, my sister said, “It doesn’t look that bad to me.” I suggested she try eating it. “No thanks, I’ve just eaten at Rosemary’s.” She finally left in a huff, leaving me with the gray mouse meal.

I tried to order a hospital tray, but by then they were out. They did have apple pie, however, so I did have a nice piece of pie.

What a holiday in the hospital!


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