Friday, February 27, 2009

Hospital Haute Coutre

If you have ever been in the hospital, you know what I am talking about. The hospital gown. It is designed for easy access for nurses and is the (excuse the expression) butt of many a joke.

I haven't had a proper sit down bath in weeks. I can't submerge completely in water because of radiation burns and now my surgical incision. And I'm one of those people who shower in the morning and then at night, I enjoy being submerged in boiling hot water to my chin with a good book and when I was healthy, a glass of wine and soaking until I was done to a turn. I resembled a very done lobster when I emerged in a cloud of steam from the bathroom about an hour later.

But back to hospital fashion. So here I am in this hospital johnny. My sister who is a nurse, usually comes in of the evenings and gives me the ubiquitous bed bath, changes my sheets, and dresses me in a gown she constructed of two of the johnnys., snapping up the shoulders and tying the sides. The hospital would really prefer she just use one, I am the skinniest person in the world right now. But I suppose she wants to preserve as much of my dignity as she can. It is a running discussion she has with the nurses to make sure that if I am not fashionable, I am at least decently clad.

To pass the time, and believe me when you are a patient, you have plenty of that, I began to concoct a tale of the man who invented the hospital gown. Here it is for your perusal.

Hospital Haute Coutre
By Aslinn Dhan Dragonhawk
In the late 1800's in Paris, a struggling fashion designer was trying to find his place in the annals of fashion design. He worked feverishly to create clothes that would set trends and cause a stir in the fickle and often vicious world of Paris haute coutre. He entered competitions, went to all the top design houses and begged anyone who was anyone to allow him to cut their clothes. No one was interested in his work. So he went to work for the French government designing uniforms and other apparel for the military, the gende d'arm, prisons and the like. It was a living, but he was uninspired. He knew this was just a way to make a living and he would simply be an anonymous government employee.
Then there was a post on the bulletin board that the Paris hospital needed a simple design for gowns for patients that would fit most any body shape and be simple to put on and take off and leave the patient easily accessible for any and all medical proceedures. It wasn't difficult but it would at least relieve some his boredom. He went to work and created his design and made a gown and had it shown at the hospital director's meeting. They praised it's simplicity and it's utility and before he knew it, most every hospital in the world would use it.
Of course the patients would never really appreciate it's design and helpfulness. They complained that it was too big or too small and it left your derriere hanging out in the breeze. All the easier for nurses to give you shots, enemas, birth your babies, or secure your diaper. But woe unto the absent minded ambulatory patient who forgot about the opening in the back as they took their stroll down the halls. Everyone had the chance to make you the butt of their joke.
So now, the decades have passed and we still use that wonderful, simple hospital gown today, but the name of the man who designed it is still a mystery til now. The name of the designer: Pierre Buttzout.
Thank you Pierre, you have made my humiliation complete.