A piece of cloth decorated with cartoon animals or light blue patterns. It can vary in size but not style. It brings fear, uncertainty and vulnerability. It symbolizes dramatic, unwelcome changes in people’s lives.
It is a hospital gown.
Wearing a hospital gown—naked underneath—you, the patient, burst the bubble of privacy and emerge upon an unusual level of trust. You reveal your most intimate moments as you lead your physician into your world. You ask your physician questions that you are too embarrassed to ask elsewhere. Some hospital staff refer to you by a unique feature in your appearance, your room number or simply your illness. You feel lost of your identity, your freedom and your dignity.
Despite your discomfort and vulnerability, you try to add a bit of imagination and optimism. Hospital gowns are just another piece of clothing, and IV tubes are merely additional accessories that you conveniently hang on the IV pole. Heart rate monitors and ventilation machines are like bulky furniture in your house. Your room is decorated with flowers, paintings and your favorite blankets and pillows. Recline your bed and enjoy your favorite TV show or movie. And although you don’t like the food provided, you reason that no one’s life is perfect. With time, you will befriend nurses and technicians. You will hear the latest gossip and tabloids inside and outside the hospital. Drama may unfold before your eyes, and sometimes you laugh or cry with the main characters. You look at the gown and see a few strands of your hair or a stain from lunch, and you realize you’ve already personalized it too.