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Los Pollos Hermanos
05-24-2014, 11:43 PM
A little random-ism for a Saturday evening... :D

In the UK there's a bit of a long-running tradition (now slightly ironic, I suppose, although I've done it myself) of taking a bunch of grapes when visiting a patient in hospital. I assume it was commonplace during those times when grapes were not so easy to come by and the visitor thought it was important to provide the patient with something healthy and convenient to snack on as they recovered.

In my story, my main good guy (he's originally English) is visiting his (American) wife in (the) hospital. In addition to a couple of trashy magazines, a novel and the obligatory box of chocolates, he also takes a bunch of grapes.

Now to the question:
Does the aforementioned grape "tradition" exist in the US? If so, there's nothing much for her to comment on. If not, I'll have her bemoan her husband's English weirdness (I say it like it's a bad thing!). I know it's a minor point, but I like to be as accurate as possible.

Many thanks in advance,

LPH.

Marlys
05-24-2014, 11:51 PM
Grapes aren't a traditional hospital gift in the US, but a fruit basket would be pretty common so I don't think they'd be seen as weird.

Maryn
05-24-2014, 11:55 PM
I agree with Marlys, we don't have the grape tradition in the US, but people do bring or cause to have delivered various food baskets, among them a fruit basket.

Depending on why the wife is hospitalized, of course, she may not be allowed fresh fruits. (My husband* couldn't have them during certain portions of his treatment for leukemia.)

Maryn, who must agree with Marlys because our names are so close

*He survived and is just fine

ZachJPayne
05-25-2014, 12:00 AM
The grapes definitely aren't a tradition in the US. I volunteer as a receptionist at the hospital, so I see lots of flowers. Very few fruit baskets, but definitely, on occasion. And if the person is in Intensive Care, they can't have any outside food or live plants -- something to keep in mind.

mirandashell
05-25-2014, 12:00 AM
Is it also part of the tradition that the visitor then eats the fruit he's brought?

Los Pollos Hermanos
05-25-2014, 12:03 AM
Many thanks to you both. I'll stick with the bunch of grapes and have her jokingly complain that they should have been in a fruit basket (that's a bit posh, btw!). At this stage of her recovery she'd be allowed some fruit.

I'm glad Mr Maryn is fully recovered!

Cheers,

LPH.

Los Pollos Hermanos
05-25-2014, 12:05 AM
Ooooh, more people - more thanks!

@ Mirandashell: It's the law of the land!

@ ZachJPayne: She's in a medical-surgical unit - would flowers be allowed there? We have the no flowers in ICU rule over here, so I assumed it would be the same stateside.

Cheers,

LPH.

ZachJPayne
05-25-2014, 12:08 AM
Yep, flowers would be okay in Medico-Surgical, as well as run-of-the-mill recovery rooms. You should be good. :)

Los Pollos Hermanos
05-25-2014, 12:10 AM
Thanks! With him being English, it would have to be petrol/gas station forecourt flowers then...

;)

Just noticed your location - this part of the story takes place around Lake Tahoe and Reno!

ZachJPayne
05-25-2014, 12:15 AM
Thanks! With him being English, it would have to be petrol/gas station forecourt flowers then...

;)

Just noticed your location - this part of the story takes place around Lake Tahoe and Reno!

Most hospitals would have a gift shop with flowers on hand.

And that's awesome! It's a really lovely area. :)

Lavern08
05-25-2014, 12:20 AM
Since hospital food stinks (at least in my area), I've been known to sneak in Popeye's Chicken, slices of chocolate-layer cake, strawberry-banana smoothies and Whoppers to relatives and friends. :D

Los Pollos Hermanos
05-25-2014, 12:36 AM
@ Lavern08:

This might amuse you:
http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2009/sep/17/hospital-food-bingo-nhs-traction-man

Seems like bad hospital food is a global issue!

@ ZachJPayne:

I'll have him open his wallet and get her some nice hospital flowers, although the rest will be contained in a Safeway bag. An Englishman cannot change his spots!

I've been to Lake Tahoe twice in the name of research - it was such a chore to have to visit the area. :D Absolutely stunning. I drove to Reno once to get a vague feel for the place, although most of the Reno-based action takes place inside buildings.

The aforementioned hospital patient did recently venture to Carson City to buy a new dress (referred to in passing), although I must confess that I only drove through en route to Reno and didn't stop.

*Hangs head in shame*

Cheers,

LPH.

frimble3
05-25-2014, 09:09 AM
You could also take into consideration where and how the American wife and the British MGG met. If she's an Anglophile, she may be aware of the 'grapes' tradition, and remark on it, even if it seems odd to her American friends and nurses.
(I'm Canadian, and was raised on British books and magazines, so I know about the grape thing, but don't know how much exposure most Americans would have to it.)

Chris P
05-25-2014, 09:15 AM
If I were an American patient in an English hospital and people brought me grapes, I'd be pleased with the first person, confused by the second, then think you were all goofy by the third person. Especially if they didn't bring anything else. That could be quite a fun scene, actually.

Los Pollos Hermanos
05-25-2014, 01:21 PM
They met five years earlier in Boulder, CO - her hometown. He'd been studying/working in the US for ~10 years at that point and has fully assimilated into American life (not that much different to over here, really).

They've got two young children, so I could say that she's familiar with the grape thing from when he took some to her after giving birth (edits... now referred to in passing during this scene). Thanks for making me think of that!

As for an American having the misfortune to find themselves in an English hospital, a scene where they end up with numerous bunches of grapes would be rather comical, although after trying NHS cuisine they'd be grateful for the extra food! And, it's pretty standard to turn up with said grapes in their original packaging.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/littlebritain/images/digi/grapes.jpg

Cheers,

LPH.

WeaselFire
05-25-2014, 11:36 PM
[QUOTE=Los Pollos Hermanos;8885832]Many thanks to you both. I'll stick with the bunch of grapes and have her jokingly complain that they should have been in a fruit basket.../QUOTE]

"Oh, wow, thanks. Where'd the rest of the fruit basket go?"

"It's just grapes."

"Cheap bastard. At least you got my favorite reading material."

Jeff

Los Pollos Hermanos
05-25-2014, 11:55 PM
Haha! He probably bought the American equivalents of Top Gear magazine (motoring) and Viz (not sure how to explain that one!) to read whilst he ate her chocolates and grapes.

;)

KarmaPolice
05-26-2014, 10:35 AM
Not all Brits bring grapes - my family has the tradition of taking each other marrows in hospital. Like many UK traditions, it's purpose and origin is lost to the mists of time...

Los Pollos Hermanos
05-26-2014, 01:08 PM
Marrows?!

I even googled it in various permutations, but all I could find were references to bone marrow.

Thinking of this usually patient patient (ha!), I think that if her husband turned up with a marrow, she'd batter him over the head with it!

Bolero
05-26-2014, 02:57 PM
And now you want the Wurzels marrow song...... :)

http://www.thewurzels.com/lyricsmarrow.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqLNM4lWhHM

Yup, definitely want that. :D

Incidentally - in US hospitals is there
a) An in-house hospital radio station?
b) Exorbitant charges for telephones and watching the TV?

Los Pollos Hermanos
05-26-2014, 03:40 PM
Groan! :D Gerrrorrrfmoylaaaand...

Those are a couple of decent questions for adding authenticity, btw. Does that kind of entertainment get covered by medical insurance, assuming it exists? If we have it here in the Fifth World, they must surely have such delights across the Pond?

After all, we have bags of supermarket grapes but they have posh fruit baskets. ;)

* plans to emigrate *

melindamusil
05-26-2014, 10:06 PM
Incidentally - in US hospitals is there
a) An in-house hospital radio station?
b) Exorbitant charges for telephones and watching the TV?



Those are a couple of decent questions for adding authenticity, btw. Does that kind of entertainment get covered by medical insurance, assuming it exists? If we have it here in the Fifth World, they must surely have such delights across the Pond?


It depends.

First, I think a television with basic channels is pretty common. You'd have to pay for anything special, like movies or extra channels. Whether or not your insurance covers that will depend on your insurance policy.

There is one hospital near me that is heavily subsidized by the government because it treats a LOT of Medicare/Medicaid/welfare patients. I've been in this hospital, and the quality of care is fine, but it's very no-frills. You would be lucky to even get a room to yourself. If you want to watch a movie or pretty much any other entertainment options, you'll have to pay for it. And in that case, since most of the patients are are on Medicaid, their "insurance" would not cover that.

There is another hospital near me that is privately owned. Most of their patients have private insurance (read: a little more well-to-do. Middle class, mostly.). They offer free wifi, a big collection of free movies, private rooms - lots of amenities.

So IMO there is a wide variety of possibilities depending on the hospital.

Hendo
05-26-2014, 10:45 PM
http://www.ediblearrangements.com
These are extremely common as they combine the fruit basket with a flower arrangement.

mirandashell
05-26-2014, 10:59 PM
Really? They are way expensive.

Los Pollos Hermanos
05-26-2014, 11:11 PM
Bag of grapes and a couple of cheap trashy magazines from the local Safeway it is then!

:D

melindamusil
05-26-2014, 11:13 PM
Really? They are way expensive.

So are many flower arrangements. And many fruit baskets. I've never fully understood why you're required to spend lots of money to express your concern.

AndieX
05-26-2014, 11:38 PM
Ah, you can tell he's English by the quality of his gifts - Milk Tray anyone? ;)

Jamesaritchie
05-27-2014, 12:24 AM
Don't forget helium filled balloons. I've been to hospitals is seven states, and even adults often get balloons to go with the flowers and fruit baskets. The gift shop almost always sells them.

mirandashell
05-27-2014, 12:27 AM
Bag of grapes and a couple of cheap trashy magazines from the local Safeway it is then!

:D

Absolutely!

mirandashell
05-27-2014, 12:28 AM
Don't forget helium filled balloons. I've been to hospitals is seven states, and even adults often get balloons to go with the flowers and fruit baskets. The gift shop almost always sells them.

Over here, we would find that odd. Helium balloons are for celebrations.

Los Pollos Hermanos
05-27-2014, 12:55 AM
Told you us Limeys are a weird bunch! ;)

I'd draw the line at a helium balloon (unless it was for the baby of a close relative), but I could go to Tesco en route to (the) hospital, spend about 15 and leave with a half-decent bunch of flowers, a big bunch of grapes, a half-price* novel, a box of chocolates and two or three trashy magazines. All delivered in the plastic bag too!

If the patient is someone I'll visit when they're back home recovering, I'll turn up with a big home-made cake once they've escaped the joy that is NHS cuisine.

Milk Tray would annoy me as I'm a classy bird, but Celebrations would do the job nicely under the circumstances. Actually, pretty much any chocolate would do if I was craving it. Apart from Quality Street - bleugh.

* Why are they always 3.87?!

benbenberi
05-27-2014, 01:32 AM
Since hospital food stinks (at least in my area), I've been known to sneak in Popeye's Chicken, slices of chocolate-layer cake, strawberry-banana smoothies and Whoppers to relatives and friends. :D

My mother had surgery at the NYU hospital about 10 years ago, and the food in that place was so terrible, the nurses would provide patients with the menus of local restaurants that deliver. Delivery being directly to the patient's bed!

I've never heard of grapes as a hospital gift in the US, so they might be considered a bit weird, but certainly not out of line.

mirandashell
05-27-2014, 01:41 AM
* Why are they always 3.87?!

They are, aren't they? Nothing else comes in at something and 87p. Odd. And at 'full price' they are 7.74. Which doesn't make sense either.

Bolero
05-27-2014, 01:57 AM
On number of beds in a ward.

My experience of being a day patient in the NHS is one big ward - say 20 beds, 10 to a side. (Just in for the day for a minor op). Times 2. No TV, possibly radio but I was reading a book.

Visiting hospital - intensive care, very large ward no sub-divisions. (All patients visible from nurses desk).

Post-op not intensive care - partitions in long ward so it is 4 or 6 beds to the sub-partition and a corridor with windows along the ward. Some bays with curtains near the nurses desk. Not everything visible from the nurses desk.

Convalescence in local hospital - large ward maybe 20 or more beds around the walls. No nurses station in the ward.

Mixed gender in all cases, but all adults.

So just floating that for US people, and so more comment could be made on what is usual in US hospital.

Also noticed around hospital corridors the tendency to have

a) Old black and white photos of the area 50/100 years ago
b) Paintings donated by the artist
c) Paintings by members of staff
d) Paintings with discreet for sale stickers on, proceeds usually to a hospital charity.

Los Pollos Hermanos
05-27-2014, 03:57 AM
Ha! I've already grilled the good folks from the US about their hospital layouts, wards/units, etc. I don't know if you can find the thread via my profile? Feel free to seek it out as there's plenty of good stuff you may be able to use on that thread.

The last hospital I had the misfortune to visit is one of those awful recent PFI builds which is already falling to bits. My cousin used to work there, but escaped to work in an old (i.e. properly built) hospital in one of the roughest towns in the region - says it all. They looked after my Gran well, but I've heard some horror stories about the place - usually involving childbirth - which make Stafford Hospital sound positively wonderful.

My lasting memory of the PFI-built hospital is the big NO SMOKING sign out front, beneath which a motley assortment of pyjama-clad patients, some pulling IV poles, had congregated for a crafty ciggie.

NateSean
05-29-2014, 04:59 PM
As to the grapes thing, I don't think I would find it weird. I've been in the hospital and while I like flowers, I tend to associate them with funerals. Receiving flowers when I'm trying to recover from a potentially life threatening illness sends the wrong message. Also, I can't eat flowers. Generally.

Grapes would tell me that my loved ones want me to be alive and healthy and are encouraging me through their thoughtful gift. So bring on the grapes.

Traditions be damned.

Orianna2000
05-30-2014, 02:28 AM
I never heard of this British custom! Fascinating. Are the grapes a specific color? Or does it not matter?

Los Pollos Hermanos
05-30-2014, 05:19 AM
I'm not particularly bothered by flowers either. I agree - if you can't eat it (or read it), it's pointless. ;)

My personal preference is for those juicy red Flame grapes, so I take those if I can get them. However, so long as they're nice and fresh (and seedless), I'd say any variety/colour is acceptable.

Would any of my fellow country(wo)men care to chip in here?!

mirandashell
05-30-2014, 02:13 PM
I don't mind what colour the grapes are as long as they are seedless. Getting rid of the seeds is a pain when you're not in your own home.

Mr Flibble
05-30-2014, 02:45 PM
I never heard of this British custom! Fascinating. Are the grapes a specific color? Or does it not matter?

Generally doesn't matter. The humorous addendum says that whoever buys the grapes will eat most of them before visiting time is over, leaving the patient with a brown bag of grape skeleton (and possibly seeds)

Orianna2000
05-30-2014, 08:58 PM
Good to know, thanks!

KarmaPolice
05-31-2014, 11:48 AM
From memory, grapes were usually the green ones - I only personally started seeing the red ones regularly in supermarkets in the mid-90's. Possibly another sweet seasonal (strawberries, cherries etc). I think the tradition might date back the times where such fruits were 'exotic' and really expensive. (another example - oranges/satsumas at bottom of Christmas stockings). Balloons? Never. Flowers? On the rise. And with my family, you can find out how 'ill' you really are by the amount of marrows given. A couple of thoughts on your Brit character...

1) He'll think a private room is swanky. The norm here is still the ward - unless medically a room is necessary. Unless the patient is in for 'the long haul', it'll be mixed-sex. Any adult ward will contain at least 50% old people, and children's wards will contain similar amounts of under-fives.

2) Doctor knows best. It's slowly fading, and is naturally lower the higher the class bracket you get, but we still 'defer to doctor' when it comes to medicines, operations etc. From personal experience the 'discussion' about an upcoming planned operation is roughly...

Doctor: You need this operation. I'll make you better.
Me: Is it risky?
Doctor: Not really. We've done them loads of times before.
Me: It'll work, right?
Doctor: We wouldn't do it if it didn't.
Me: Um, okay.
Doctor: Sign here, please...

Asking for a 'second opinion' is rare. Big exceptions - cancer and anything to do with children. Mainly due to the media, people are more (usually mis)informed about 'wonder' drugs etc, and will demand it. As the NHS has to really watch their pennies these days, they'll try to keep costs down by sticking with the 'older, but proven' medicines than the flashy new one that offers 5% improvement at 500% the price.

Los Pollos Hermanos
06-01-2014, 03:09 AM
I don't like grapes with seeds at any time - they're such a nuisance to eat! Although they'd be preferable to marrows. ;)

The English character is used to American hospitals, after he spent a month in one (well, two actually) a year earlier in the story and having lived in the US for 15 years by this point. And, in his line of work, he's had to make a few hospital visits in a professional capacity.

He still likes his grapes though!

jaksen
06-01-2014, 05:54 PM
Balloons are often given to hospital patients, so much so that many gift shops will sell them. I had my last child in 1992 - GOD I am so old! - and I got flower arrangements, candy and balloons.

When my mother was in the hospital a short time ago, she got flowers with balloons.

Maybe it's a fairly recent thing but balloons are fun. Put them near a source of air - window, ac, heating vent - and they move around. :D

benbenberi
06-01-2014, 08:30 PM
I guess the rationale for balloons as gifts for patients is that balloons are colorful and cheerful, and hospital patients need color and cheering. They're generally the big mylar kind, with appropriate colorful/cheerful pictures & messages, and often come attached to flowers. Dietary restrictions don't affect balloons, and they don't require any care or maintenance to stay cheerful.

Los Pollos Hermanos
06-02-2014, 01:00 AM
In addition to the grapes, I'd prefer this instead of flowers and/or a balloon:

http://www.choc-o-holic.co.uk/shop/images/products/cadbury-celebration-chocolate-hamper.jpg

Minus the Milk Tray, of course. ;)

jaksen
09-02-2014, 02:30 AM
My older sister recently had hip replacement surgery. When she got home I sent her a flowers, chocolates and balloon arrangement. She thanked me but LOVED the darn balloons. She has a big house with high ceilings, etc, and she said she lets the balloons just drift around from room to room and you never know where they'll show up. (She's 69 years old, btw, a world traveler and who would think such a simple thing would bring her so much happiness?)

Los Pollos Hermanos
09-02-2014, 09:53 PM
Balloons aren't such a big thing over here, although I'd think about taking one in for a child if they weren't allowed chocolate and the like - or were too ill to look at a book or play with a toy.

Cathryn
09-21-2014, 01:11 AM
If you want the grapes to be sweet and juicy she had best be in the hospital sometime between the middle of September and the end of October or the grapes will be imported and mostly sour in comparison. There is something else she can complain about.

Bolero
09-21-2014, 01:33 PM
Small addendum on flowers - sometimes you see loads of flowers in a ward, along window sills, rather than on the patient's bedside table. Those were sent over after a funeral with the dedications (usually) removed, rather than leaving them to fade in a heap on the grave, or at a crematorium be moved out of the way half an hour after the last mourner has left the garden of remembrance (well, the paved area with a few low maintenance bushes and patio sort of areas so you can lay out the flowers from the "Smith" funeral (with a useful locator label on a stick) a little way away from the "Jones" funeral and still have space left to set up when the "Bloggses" come out.)

Other than that, yup, grapes to hospital patient is a UK classic. Chocolates to the nurses to say thanks for looking after the relative, that happens a bit sometimes.

Orianna2000
09-21-2014, 06:17 PM
Chocolates for nurses? That's a new one for me! I can't say I've ever had a nurse who was kind enough to warrant giving her chocolates, though. At least not during a hospitalization. I always end up with the cranky ones! Although, when I had my gallbladder removed last month, the nurse was amazingly wonderful. But then, it was an outpatient procedure. I kept wishing I could send her a thank you note, but I didn't even catch her name. (Well, I was kind of out of it at the time. . . .)

Bolero
09-23-2014, 01:02 AM
Yes, there are quite a range of nurses..... But some do deserve chocolate. :D

Once even, a relative of mine became friends with one nurse she had - they got on well one year, relative was back in again next year and the nurse had moved to another ward, but heard relative was in and came down to say hello, then they used to meet for coffee for a while.

Los Pollos Hermanos
09-23-2014, 01:14 AM
When my mum was a student nurse (and skint!) in the late 60s, the local chippy owner used to take pity on her and her flatmates and give them free scraps.

Now, how do I translate the above for the non-UK types here?! :D