Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Major Drugs. No Needles.

The new edition of Grand Rounds is up over at Protect the Airway, which has become one of my favorite blogs. There’s a kind of Grand Rounds tradition to see who can come up with the cleverest presentation, and this edition takes the form of an ED tour. I'm honored to be included, especially since I submitted my post after the deadline!

But one thing got left out: the blanket warmer.

I’ve decided that warm blankets are the best thing about the emergency department. We’re talking major drugs: these things are at least as effective as morphine. Patients who’ve just been given a warm blanket will moan in ecstasy and close their eyes. Pain and worry lines fade, replaced by blissful smiles.

The worst thing about having a fever in the ED is that you aren’t allowed to have a warm blanket. If your temp’s up, I can only give you a sheet.

I once saw an agitated, suicidal homeless patient magically become calm, happy and grateful, just because I’d given him a warm blanket. Another homeless patient who was being discharged ran after me with tears in his eyes to say “thank you,” when I’d done nothing but give him a warm blanket hours earlier. As a chaplain, I’ve learned that the two things most guaranteed to make patients weep with gratitude are heartfelt, personalized prayers and, you guessed it, warm blankets.

I often tell patients, “I want one of these blanket warmers for my house. I think Sharper Image should sell them. They’d make a million dollars.” The patients always laugh and agree.

My birthday’s next week. If you want to get me something really special, you now know what that would be.

Of course, I don’t want you to go to any trouble, really. But if you just happen to have a spare blanket warmer lying around, I’ll happily take it off your hands.


  1. Just fyi, this is the beauty of the old victorian houses I love - a lost beauty.

    I used to leave all my sons clothes on top of the radiator (it had a cover) so they were toasty warm when he dressed in the winter monrings. I dont know if he remembers, but I will never forget the joy of getting out of the shower to a nice warm towel.

    Oh my god.

    I never thought about putting a blanket on one during the day.

  2. When I was a kid, my father and stepmother lived in an old NYC apartment that had that kind of radiator too. I'd forgotten that until now!

    My mother sent me e-mail yesterday and said, "Why didn't you tell me you wanted a blanket warmer for your birthday?" She was joking, of course. Just for a lark, I priced warmers last night on the net. Holy cow, they're expensive! But that's medical equipment for you.

  3. Adrian Turtle9:06 PM

    Hospital blanket warmers cost the earth because they're designed to warm a lot of heavy blankets. To warm one light blanket at a time, at home, you might try something like this. http://www.thehardwarehut.com/bath_towel_warmers.php

  4. Thanks, Adrian! I knew vaguely that such things existed, but now I know where to find them!

  5. I am so with you on this one.. the blanket warmer is the best!


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