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My Summer Vacation
After a return trip to the hospital, Big Daddy Graham has some interesting musings.

by Big Daddy Graham

Three years ago, my daughter Keely gave birth to her twins, Jameson and Lucy, and to say it has completely changed my life would be a major understatement. I swear to God I don’t remember getting this much joy raising my own daughters. Was it because they were born four years apart? No, it’s because these beautiful bouncy twins were delivered to us the same day. It’s fantastic! From the moment they pull up in the driveway, we shower these grandkids with joy, love and affection, and most importantly, a little gift. We always have a little gift for them when we know they are coming over. No wonder they are so happy to see us.
All I can tell you is if my buddy Ernie is having one of his classic afternoon parties that start at 4 p.m., and then my wife tells me the grandkids are coming over at 4, well guess what?  I will show up to the party late, because nothing in the world is more fun than playing with my grandkids.
There’s only one bummer that’s attached to my new kiddies. Before their birth, if I was coughing and sneezing or complaining I was getting the flu, my wife wouldn’t lift her eyes off her Facebook. But now? If I even mention I think I’m coming down with something, she insists that I go to the doctor immediately, so I don’t get the twins sick.  
But what happened this time when I recently fell ill on a Saturday? With thoughts of the coronavirus swirling in her head, she went and called 911, and the next thing you know I’m getting carried out on a stretcher and taken to the hospital. The hospital!
Now before I dive into my hospital rants, let me make this extremely clear. This is my second time at Inspira Hospital of Mullica Hill and their staff could not be more polite or thorough. I live literally five minutes away from the facility and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. Having said that, there are certain aspects of any hospital stay that leave me shaking my head.
Men are pathetic. We live for our televisions and remotes. If there was such a thing, I would have a master’s degree in scanning channels for something to watch. My wife will yell, “Will you stop doing that?! How can you find something to watch when you’re on every stinkin’ channel about 100th of a second?!” What can I tell you? When it comes to the remote, I’m a Triple Crown winner and she’s still stuck laboring in Double-A ball.
But hospital TVs are the worst! No premium channels like HBO or Showtime. Fifteen infomercial channels. I am writing this article on my laptop while I am in the hospital and there’s been an infomercial on hawking an iron for about three hours. An iron! Granted, I have the sound down on the television with music coming out of my laptop, but my goodness, every time I gaze up there’s 100 women in the audience clapping and going wild. Over an iron, for crying out loud. It’s insane. What a country.
There’s also a channel with a nun talking directly to you 24/7. I went to Catholic school and I still get nightmares over those kind sisters. God forbid if I see a nun while I’m trying to sleep. There’s zero chance of me catching 40 winks and 100 percent chance I’m going to get whacked with a ruler. There’s also a channel with two guys sitting in red chairs hawking cars. I woke up holding a five-year lease on an SUV. Now before you snip at me with, “Just change the channel,” I do. Butwhat’s on the next channel? Another infomercial selling microwave ovens.  Somebody help me!
What is it with hospitals and graham crackers? I don’t play the stock market but if I did, every time I heard that they were building a new hospital anywhere I would buy stock in graham crackers. No matter what I order, it comes with a side of graham crackers. Pasta. Fish. Meat. I ordered a salad and it was sprinkled with graham crackers. So, I have decided to eat nothing but graham crackers in the hope of breaking the all-time graham cracker record of 600,000. Wish me luck.
Forget about it. Let’s start with the pills. They give them to you every four hours. So let’s say they gave you pills at 10 p.m., the next batch will come your way at 2 a.m. and then 6 a.m., which is not a big deal because they’re waking you up to start the day at 6 a.m. anyway. And I swear to God, every time I stay in the hospital, they’re doing some short of construction on my floor beginning at 7:30 a.m. You just can’t win.
And then there is this breathing apparatus thingamajig. Those things come at you all day and all night long. I’m no stranger to smoking pipes, but these pipes? There’s no reward. Tommy Chong would be infuriated.
I am so fortunate. I have been in hospitals enduring lengthy stays many times now. Friends, relatives and in-laws constantly come to visit me, but sometimes these visits are awkward. On day three of this stay I got a visit from a friend who I barely know and never hang with. I greatly appreciated him visiting me, but I had to do all the work keeping the conversation going. Frankly, it was hard work. “How’s your wife? I hear you moved. I hear you’re getting ready to retire.” It’s tiring.
So what is the moral to the story? I really don’t know. Try to stay out of the hospital? Geez, who wants to go to the hospital to begin with? You can live as healthy as possible, but you still have no control with COVID-19 lurking behind your front lawn hedge. So try to stay as healthy as you can. I guess that’s the best I can do. Good luck. Enjoy the rest of the summer. Chat with you soon.

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Published and copyrighted in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 17, Issue 4 (July 2020).

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