10 Tips On How To Survive a Trip To the Hospital

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by Michael Miles: What
to Eat in a Crisis



Recently, blogger
Melissa McEwen had an accident that necessitated a trip to the hospital.
Here is how it went down in
her own words

I had woken
up one night unable to move, on the floor, in a pool of various
bodily fluids. Hot and dizzy, I struggled for the phone, stumbling,
my ears ringing.

Not too pretty,

Turns out that
was only the start of her troubles. After being hospitalized she
had to manage the obstacle filled culinary track known as hospital

Eating decently
at the hospital was a huge challenge. I threw out the idea of
being paleo, but I wanted to make sure I was at least gluten-free,
so I didn't have to add horrible stomach cramps to the doctor's
to-do lists. Gluten intolerance affects 1 out of 100 people…they
must have some accomendations? Right?


There are lots
of concerns to keep in mind when one is making a planned visit to
the hospital, and even more when it is an emergency trip. One of
the few books that covers this topic well is the late Robert Mendelson's
of A Medical Heretic
. In a highly entertaining and memorable
way Dr. Mendelson devotes nearly a chapter to the subject.

I mention this
book time and again despite its age because it really is a primer
on how to approach health in an integrated way. Food is really just
a small part of the overall picture. If I were teaching a class
on health and nutrition this is one of the books that would serve
as a foundation for the course.

As Mendelson points
out, visiting the hospital is serious stuff, and something most people
don't concern themselves with because they are not aware of the
shenanigans that sometimes occur in hospitals, nor how terribly wrong
things can go. Like our government many Americans think problems here
and there are odd and rare, and not endemic to the system itself.

For all our
revolutionary heritage, Americans in general seem to have this odd,
misplaced, unblinking, and often unconscious respect for credentialed
authority, apparently thinking that credentials and expertise somehow
cleanse people from the baser parts of human nature like self-willed
agendas, petty backbiting, authoritarian behavior, the brazen seeking
of power, a cultic mentality, etc.

Anyone who
has spent serious time in academia (medical or otherwise) or is
familiar with the history
of modern medicine
knows better, but the hoi
seem not to understand.

I'm not
going to focus on all the myriad issues at play when one enters
a hospital, but keep in mind that the TSA (Transportation Security
Authority) and your typical hospital staff have a lot in common.
We were discussing this on twitter
a few days ago and unfortunately it is very close to the truth that
the last two places you want to be (outside of jail or an insane
asylum mental
health hospital
) is an airport or hospital.

What should
be places of healing (hospitals) and a means (among other things)
to recreational escape (airports) have become war zones over our
personal freedom regarding our physical bodies and the freedom to
move those bodies.

The main difference
is that you don't automatically
give up your sovereignty
as a free standing moral agent when
you walk into a hospital, although you may have to fight for it.
Unfortunately the same can't
be said about the TSA
. Though you can refuse the body scanner
search, some unknown flunky is still going to grope
pat you down if you plan on traveling.

As I said recently
in my Happy
Secession Day
post, "Amerikan
style freedom. Gotta love it."

Given the scope
of this subject, I will focus primarily on food. If food is important
to you (and if you are reading this blog it most likely is very
important), you must have an advanced strategy in place should the
day come you have to make the trek. Below are ten ways to protect
yourself before a hospital visit.

Tips On Surviving A Hospital Stay

  1. Have
    a like-minded friend present at all times.
  2. This is extremely
    important if you make an emergency trip to the hospital and don't
    have control of all your cognitive faculties. You will need an
    ideological nutritional soul mate running interference to make
    sure your best interest — not the doctor or the hospital — is
    always first and foremost.

    Ideally this
    would be your wife, husband, significant other, or your family,
    but I know many of my readers are lone warriors in their quest
    for health, and may need to seek out a friend to help them. Problem
    is, while family can often get their way with hospital staff if
    they know what to do and are obstinate enough, a non-relative
    will find the going extremely difficult. So this is something
    you will need to work out beforehand in detail.

    My suggestion:
    your non-relative immediately becomes your relative in the event
    of a hospital stay. A cousin, an uncle, even a fianc can work.
    Whatever you do never let on otherwise, or your friend will have
    no impact in the nutritional ideological sterility that characterizes
    most hospital environments.

  3. Pretend
    to eat the meals but replace them with your own.
  4. There is
    no good food in the hospital, period. Melissa mentioned that part
    of the meal was edible (chicken and rice). She might not think
    that way if she saw the list of ingredients before each item was
    taken out of its package. Industrial commercial food is the worst
    food in the food industry by far. Here is the irony,
    it is precisely when you are sick that superior quality food becomes
    even more of an imperative.

    There are
    several ways to handle this problem.

  5. Have
    a friend prepare meals for you and bring them to the hospital.
  6. Caveat: many
    hospitals frown on this practice, so be prepared to bring in meals
    surreptitiously and dispose of the evidence secretly as well.
    If the hospital is less than amenable to your friend's culinary
    courier activity and discovers this is going on, the staff will
    either keep him/her from bringing anything into the room, or attempt
    to ban your healthy food advocate altogether if not a close relative.
    Or you can

  7. Prepare
    your meals in advance, seal them with a commercial sealer, freeze
    them, and then have a friend bring them by each day or set up
    a system where you have a package of food mailed to you each day.
  8. The latter
    tactic will again depend on the policy of the particular hospital
    you are in. If they search your packages each day (which, unless
    something recently has changed, they are not allowed to do) then
    obviously this isn't going to work.

  9. Call
    ahead to find out hospital policies regarding food and visitation
    rights, and then promptly ignore them.
  10. This by the
    way is where you can learn about policies regarding food brought
    in from the outside, etc. Again, work surreptitiously. If the
    staff realizes it was you making calls and doing research, they
    may treat you as a somewhat suspicious character looking to get
    around the system. In all you do, you must keep a low-profile.

    rights are a whole other matter beyond the scope of this post.
    Dr. Mendelson covers this quite well in his Confessions
    of A Medical Heretic
    . Suffice it to say that sometimes
    you will need someone to be there around the clock, but that is
    a story for another post.

  11. Be
    prepared to "sneak" out of the hospital if necessary.
  12. Hospitals
    aren't prisons unless you are caught in the looney
    bin trap
    . You are not under lock and key. A doctor or hospital
    staff can't keep you confined against your will. If you don't
    like the care you are receiving, leave! If you can't physically
    do so yourself, have your family and friends take you out when
    no one is looking. In some states you can even hire an ambulance
    service to pick you up!

  13. Never!
    Never! Never! make a decision while medicated and/or under extreme
  14. If need be,
    have a legal document prepared in advance allowing someone you
    know and trust to make decisions for you in the event you can't.

  15. Consider
    treatment outside of the US.
  16. If this is
    not an emergency visit, and you require major surgery you might
    consider getting treatment outside of the country. In many places
    the doctors are US trained, with excellent equipment, yet charging
    a fraction of the price here in the US. The food is better, the
    overall care is better, and the ideological framework under which
    the doctors operate is a world apart from the US. In other words
    they won't treat you like the TSA.

    Check out
    Simon Black's Planting
    An Off-shore Medical Flag
    for more information or the myriad
    of articles covering the topic at International

  17. If
    it is not delivering drugs necessary for your survival, be very
    careful with an IV.
  18. Check
    out the ingredients
    . Oftentimes you are being fed nothing
    but sugared water. IV's are not innocuous.
    This is where an enlightened doctor or being treated at home can
    really come into play. Do your research. There are alternatives.

    As mentioned
    earlier, for your own protection consider the hospital staff on
    par with the TSA no matter how well intentioned they may appear
    to you. Even if you are working with the best doctor in the land,
    the bulk of your time will be spent with the hospital staff. How
    good is the typical hospital staff? You would do well to remember
    this quote from Melissa's post:

    A well-meaning
    but obvious ill-informed resident tried to give me a sandwich
    on white bread. u201CIt's white bread, not wheat, so it's wheat
    free!u201D he proclaimed.

    She also
    provides visual confirmation:

Another gluten
free hospital meal… featuring white bread

    Lovely, huh?

  1. The
    number one method for surviving a hospital stay? Don't go
    there in the first place!

Or if you do
go, don't stay unless it is absolutely necessary. If you can
be treated at home, then by all means do so.

There is simply
no better way — being treated at home — by which you can protect
yourself from the often well intentioned but seriously misguided
predations of a pharmacologically driven hospital staff where food
is not considered of primary importance but rather as an afterthought.

One reason
doctors and hospitals have grown so powerful is because we have
the house call
and have pretty much relegated it to the elderly
when we do use it. When you are on their territory you ultimately
are at their beck and call.

When you are
on their territory you are subject to the resultant pressures exerted
by expensive technology and skyrocketing overhead, thus creating
the need for getting as many bodies in and out as possible by taking
the path of least resistance. On the other hand, when a doctor is
on your turf, you and/or a capable family member control the action.
Imagine the following scenario:

passed, lunch passed, and soon became clear that I just wasn't
going to get fed. I begged the nurse for some food and she returned
with some juice, the only gluten-free option, she said, u201Cuntil
regular dinner hours.u201D A well-meaning but obvious ill-informed
resident tried to give me a sandwich on white bread. u201CIt's white
bread, not wheat, so it's wheat free!u201D he proclaimed.

that would never happen under your own roof. Further, can
you imagine a future doctor, an "ill-informed resident"
making such a stupid mistake about bread and gluten (well, okay,
yes that was a rhetorical question)??

This, by the
way, is why you need a like-minded friend with you at all times.
To run interference. To call the staff to account. To make sure
you get fed!

To read a moving
story of this in action check out Aajonus Vonderplanitz’s We
Want To Live
. Still, if you can avoid the hospital altogether,
that is the best strategy of all.

have any hospital horror stories they would like to share?

21, 2010

Miles [send
him mail
] is the editor of Nutrition
and Physical Regeneration
, a website devoted to restoring health
and wholeness by returning to the traditional foods of our ancestors
and disavowing the "displacing foods of modern commerce."
He is also the editor of Michael’s
Daily Bread
, an occasional blog – which is pro-peace, pro-market,
and pro-community.

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