JULY 20, 1946
NEW YORK, Friday—Ever since last Tuesday morning, I have been spending a good deal of my time in the Harkness Pavilion at the Medical Center, or in the subway going back and forth.
However, I have sandwiched in seeing a few people at my apartment. For instance, yesterday a young member of the Siamese Government came to see me to bring me the respects of his Prime Minister and the assurances of their appreciation for what my husband had done for all small nations. This representative from Siam was a very alive and alert young man and I could understand why he had been a useful member of "Intelligence" during the war.
It seems to me as though I have spent a good deal of my life sitting around in hospitals waiting for other people to have operations, seeing them off to the operating room, and then waiting for their return. The first day, spent waiting for a gleam of recognition from the patient, is trying because you know that, under the best of circumstances, nobody cares who is around during the first few days after an operation, because the discomfort is so great! The patient's thoughts are completely centered upon what can be done to relieve the immediate pain.
My secretary, Miss Malvina Thompson, who has been with me for so many years, was operated on yesterday morning, and I left the hospital in the evening feeling relieved that she was at last on the road to recovery.
I told the surgeon that I had never had an operation, and then remembered afterwards that, many years ago, so long ago that it had receded completely into the background of my memory, I had been operated on! It was done in my own home, a tiny house on 36th Street. One of the bedrooms became the operating room.
Only two things now stand out in my mind. First, that I returned to consciousness to hear the doctor inquiring of the nurse whether she could feel my pulse or whether I was gone! Later, I remember saying that the pain of the next few days was far greater than any I had ever experienced in having a baby, and that I didn't think it was worthwhile because you didn't have anything to show for it afterwards!
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It was winter and, for some unknown reason—perhaps just because I wanted to make every one as uncomfortable as I was—I insisted that both my windows had to be kept open all the time. The nurse and my poor family had to look after me while attired in fur coats. In retrospect, I think I was a far more inconsiderate person and much worse patient than any others I have had to look after since! I imagine it is just as well that my life since then has been so uneventful as far as illnesses go!
Harkness Pavilion is one of the nicest hospitals I have ever been in. There is no hospital smell. The food "is good" and they have been considerate enough to provide an excellent restaurant where visitors who spend long hours there may get a quick and satisfactory meal.
As I see patients wandering around the corridors, I think I am particularly sorry for the men, because they do hate the recuperating period. Physical weakness is something few of them can accept with grace.