“Let's get him into this and give him some dignity” a pretty nurse announced as she approached with a flowered hospital gown.
I don't know if she was serious or if it was hospital humour but I laughed out loud for the first time that day.

The day had started off badly when, while on my morning walk, I had suffered a massive heart attack. Being very fit and healthy it had come as a great surprise but the sudden pain in the chest, sweating and obvious signs that I was about to pass out left me with no doubt about what was happening. I lay down immediately on the sidewalk to keep from passing out and feebly waved at the passing traffic for help. Luckily a lady stopped and called 911 and within minutes I was surrounded by paramedics from the fire hall about a mile away.
The ambulance arrived moments later and different paramedics took over my care.

In watching TV shows I have often felt that it must be very embarrassing and upsetting for accident victims, already in distress from the event, to be stripped naked at the scene. There are even special scissors for cutting the clothes off a victim and when I see them hurriedly cutting off clothes I often think “What if he just bought those jeans.”

In reality it was quite different.

My memory is a little foggy but I do remember some of the things that passed fleetingly through my mind when I wasn't worrying about how my wife was going to cope without me. Since I was out walking before my morning shower I was wearing very little – a zip up sweatshirt, a pair of shorts and runners. My sweatshirt disappeared almost immediately as they started to work on me and my shorts had gone before the ambulance started to move. I don't know when I lost the shoes but I remember lying there completely helpless wearing nothing but an oxygen mask and being thankful I had been wearing so little so that they could get to me quickly and do what they needed to do. Oh how my priorities had changed in such a short time. At that point I wouldn't have cared if they had cut my clothes into little pieces and thrown them away.
After that I just lay there and let others look after everything. I had a blanket thrown over me while the stretcher went from ambulance to hospital and through hospital corridors but the blanket spent most of the rest of the time just covering my feet while I was transferred from stretcher to examining tables etc. There was another “lights and sirens” trip to another hospital close by for an angiogram and it was there I had what might be called an out of body experience. I remember lying quietly on a stretcher looking across the room at a crowd of people working diligently on this naked man. I knew it was me and I felt the razor as a nurse shaved me and could feel the tickling in my groin where they were threading things into my femoral artery but I didn't feel that I was a part of the procedure.
I must have slept after that but soon I was in the ambulance heading back to the local hospital.
When I arrived in the Acute Cardiac Care Ward and was slid onto the bed it seemed like everyone had come to help. Soon I was naked again and all the patches I had stuck all over my body were removed and replaced with new ones so that I could be wired up to the machines. Once that was done a nurse put a catheter in a very personal part of my anatomy so that I wouldn't bother them if I had to pee and then another nurse checked out the wound in my groin where they had entered the femoral artery and it was just at that point that the pretty nurse approached with the flowered hospital gown.
After I stopped laughing I pointed out that more people had seen me naked in the past few hours than the whole of the rest of my 70 years so my dignity was now beyond repair and a flowered hospital gown was hardly what I would call dignified apparel in any case.
Actually the fact that I was alive made dignity and appearances seem very insignificant and I really didn't care anymore. I imagine I'll look at those TV shows in a different light from now on.

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