"Ellen is invading our hospitals

A few weekends ago, I was playing a relaxing game of Madden while my girlfriend was in the shower. I felt some sharp pains in my chest and got really dizzy, so much so that I thought I was going to pass out.

The pain went away but the dizziness continued throughout the next few days, so I went to see my family doctor. He gave me an EKG, said it looked OK and then scheduled an appointment to have a cardiac stress test at St. Vincent Hospital.

I didn’t want to do it. For one thing, those tests are brutally expensive, and for another, I’d just had a test two years ago and it came out fine. Thirdly, I hate the medical profession after a bad experience asking out a nurse in 2004.

The morning of the test, I’d decided I wasn’t going to go. I didn’t want to drive to 86th Street, I didn’t want to deal with doctors and I didn’t want to sit for two hours reading old issues of Field and Stream while waiting for the test.

But my wonderful girlfriend convinced me it was the right thing to do, so off I went to the outpatient entrance to St. Vincent. As far as hospitals go, St. Vincent is a pretty good one. When I was stricken with a serious infection in 2004, they took good care of me. It’s the least scary medical facility in Indianapolis to me.

I arrived, checked in and noticed something fascinating: all of the people in the waiting room were transfixed by The Ellen DeGeneres Show playing on the TV. Ellen was interviewing a guy who had hundreds of pumpkins in his yard for Halloween. I studied the faces of the people in the waiting room; they seemed as if they were under a spell. They seemed to hang on Ellen’s every word.

I began to wonder if the face of Ellen DeGeneres had some kind of calming effect on people about to undergo medical procedures.

After meeting with the intake worker, who accepted my phony health-insurance card with no questions, I was directed to an elevator. I checked in at another desk, grabbed a magazine and looked up at the TV. This set, too, featured Ellen DeGeneres, who by now was talking to supermodel Tyra Banks.

The people in this room were also glued to the screen, chuckling from time to time at Ellen’s witticisms. I was frightened. I considered changing the channel but was afraid of what would happen if I did.

A nurse called my name and led me into yet another area, where a television was also tuned into the Ellen show.

“What’s up with the TVs?” I asked.

“What do you mean?” the nurse asked.

“Every single TV in this place is tuned to The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” I said. “Frankly, it seems a little odd to me.”

“Oh,” she said. “I hadn’t noticed.”

“Why Ellen?” I asked. “Why not Regis and Kelly? Or CNN? To be honest with you, I’m not comfortable with being bombarded by Ellen. It disturbs me a bit. You work here every day. You must know why every TV is on the Ellen show.”

“I don’t know,” she said. “I need to shave your chest a little for the test.”

“Is the hospital being paid off by Ellen?” I asked. “I think my bill should be lowered if that’s the case.”

By then, two doctors had entered the room. He looked at my chart. “Why are you here today?”

“Alien abductions,” I said. “They come every night. They’ve put implants all throughout my body. I want you to remove them.”

He laughed. “I don’t think that’s the case. OK. We’re going to get your heart rate to 175 percent and see how your heart’s working.”

“I’m serious about the implants,” I said. “They apparently cause televisions to change to the Ellen show.”

“OK,” he said. “Get on the treadmill.”

After about five minutes, with the EKG rolling, I was done. The cardiologist looked at the readout and told me my heart was fine and that I was in no danger of an immediate heart attack.

I walked throughout the hospital. Every TV was tuned to Ellen’s show. While I was glad to know I’d gotten the all-clear on my heart condition, I’m still unnerved about the Ellen connection.

I wonder if the show is broadcast around-the-clock to all rooms in the hospital. This is definitely a subject that should be investigated further.



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