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April 20, 2007 4:00 PM   Subscribe

What does it mean to be "hospitalized for exhaustion"? What do they do to you in the hospital, besides let you sleep?
posted by Saucy Intruder to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
(My working hypothesis is that this is a celebrity euphemism for detox or voluntary commitment. But that's way too cynical.)
posted by Saucy Intruder at 4:04 PM on April 20, 2007


I've always assumed it was code for rehab, too.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:07 PM on April 20, 2007


Other than monitoring and IV fluids I am not sure what they would do. I am pretty sure that it often is rehab or perhaps just a short term recovery from too much drug and alcohol use.
posted by caddis at 4:10 PM on April 20, 2007


it used to be code for depression, back when there was more of a stigma.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:14 PM on April 20, 2007


Hehe, y'all are probably right. I can, however, from personal experience, say that I've been at the very edge of complete mental and physical exhaustion and that causes no end of compounding medical problems. Never did get hospitalized, but I probably should have, just to make sure it didnt get any worse while I recuperated. Sure messed me up for a while.

I'm no doctor, but there may be a real "hospitalized for exhaustion" that isnt just an example of a Britney-du-jour going into therapy.
posted by elendil71 at 4:16 PM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think it's usually code for treatment for addiction
posted by winston at 4:45 PM on April 20, 2007


I wouldn't necessarily say addiction treatment, as "exhaustion" indicates too short of a stay for even the Hollywood revolving door addiction treatment. "Exhaustion" means you've been working 9 hours a day, bump 2 grams of coke and drink 9 or 10 really strong mixed drinks (which don't get you drunk due to the aforementioned coke) -- and then when the sugar from the mixed drinks kick in and it is around 8AM and the two valium you just popped are so not working right now and you have to shoot in an hour but you like shit and you feel like shit and are crashing hard and it isn't going to get any better and now you can barely move ... your many handlers take you to the hospital and they pump you full of fluids and you don't have to call your producer and tell him you're missing another shooting day due to being hungover, that you're actually in the hospital and it is really serious and you're young and it is because you are being overworked.

Very, very synonymous with "yuppie flu", which is basically partying too hard in too short of a timespan. It only really applies to the young (who can take the hit to their body and not feel the aches and pains) and the rich (who can afford both the alcohol, drugs and time off from work).
posted by geoff. at 4:53 PM on April 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


The Washington Post addressed this this question: "If celebrities are that tired, why don't they just go to a five-star resort and lie on the beach for a few days like the rest of us tired people would do if we could afford it?"

One a more serious note, here's an article that talked about "exhaustion" in terms of prevention of emotional exhaustion and employee burnout. Just imagine how much more "burned out" celebrities get, not just "burning the candle at both ends" but also sometimes being "burned" by the media, the industry, etc, etc.
posted by Robert Angelo at 4:55 PM on April 20, 2007


What cynical? How could it be anything other than rehab? You can sleep in your own bed at home, especially when you have a maid, gardener and nanny.
posted by DU at 5:13 PM on April 20, 2007


No, no rehab and exhaustion are two separate things. Exhaustion is not a codeword for rehab. It simply is too short, exhaustion means one or two days. Even a Britney Spears rehab facility is going to have a minimum of four weeks. Exhaustion usually means in a hospital on a drip for a killer hangover. This is usually a combination of young people not knowing their limits and working and partying too hard. Probably brought on by over cautious assistants and drama queen antics by divas having "panic attacks" or the like after terrible hangovers.
posted by geoff. at 5:20 PM on April 20, 2007


Getting admitted to the hospital for anything that isn't life-threatening is a pretty piss poor idea, given te sheer number of random, iatrogenic, and unpredictable things that can happen. Not to mention superbugs hanging out pretty much everywhere.

"Exhaustion" imo, is a celebrity-mandated euphimism for either histrionics, substance abuse, or emotional illness.
posted by docpops at 5:37 PM on April 20, 2007


I've had to be admitted for something similar. I was overworked with school and extracurriculars (trying to manage a debate team and a choral speaking team at the same time, for one), and I had caught the flu but ignored it.

I got sickly, but trudged on anyway. After a while I had to do a blood test, and at the test I fainted. That's when my parents and the doctors figured I would be better off admitted to hospital.

I think they suspected me of having malaria, but it turned out to be a stomach bug that got exaberated by exhaustion - I didn't give myself any rest and just made myself worse.

I had blood tests every day, was on IV, and was on antibiotics and such. I was given an anti-nausea med that I discovered then gave me a near-fatal allergy - I was lucky they found the antidote before things got worse!

But yeah, that's what generally happens. You get in, you're on IV, you get medication (my case, flu-ey stuff and antibiotics), and you're constantly monitored. They don't let you go until you're strong enough; I was very weak for a while, nearly a week.

A few years later I got myself in hospital again for very similar circumstances, except I wasn't working through the flu! I rested but that didn't help, so back in the hospital I go.

A close friend, who has possibly the busiest schedule I know, also gets admitted once in a while (not too often) when she gets too exhausted. She's not addicted to anything and doesn't need rehab; however, the nature of her work and her general workaholicness means that she gets worn down, and it's usually when something drastic happens to her health that she decides to slow down.
posted by divabat at 6:43 PM on April 20, 2007


on post: the friend I mention works in the media. Her schedule is CRAZY HECTIC. She doesn't get a break because her income is transient (per job, not a regular salary or anything) and she needs to keep working to survive. I'm surprised there aren't more celebs being hospitalized, considering how gruelling and exhausting the whole thing is.
posted by divabat at 6:44 PM on April 20, 2007


If you are exhausted and need to "get away," load up on books and magazines, pack your swimsuit and go to a nice hotel. Soak in the hot tub, swim in the pool, people watch in the lobby, take walks on the grounds, eat out close by and just relax. Cost: about a tenth (or less) than the cost of a private room at a hospital. Bonus at the hotel: it's not loaded with sick people that could infect you through the ventilation system, careless staff and myriad other ways.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 6:56 PM on April 20, 2007


Getting admitted to the hospital because you have overextended yourself means either the patient or the doctor is a twit. I'm gonna go with the doc, since they ought to know better. Go home and get some sleep and stop being dramatic. Bad, stupid things happen in hospitals. When they do, it's at least small consolation to know you had something resembling a real illness when things went wrong.

A close friend, who has possibly the busiest schedule I know, also gets admitted once in a while (not too often) when she gets too exhausted.

You're friend needs something, but it sure as hell isn't a $600/day bed in a medical ward.
posted by docpops at 10:36 PM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


What does it mean to be "hospitalized for exhaustion"?

It's shorthand for "I'm tired as fuck from running around doing things I love to do, and wealthy and self-important enough to expect a hospital to get me back to running around doing things I love to do. I could have just relaxed for a couple of days, but I don't have that much sense and I'm far too important not to be at the center of everyone's attention every minute of every day. The only solution, then, is me in the hospital. Me in the hospital is drama, ladies and gentlemen."
posted by pracowity at 12:07 AM on April 21, 2007


You all don't really understand what happens when you need to be HOSPITALIZED for exhaustion, do you?

It's not just a matter of "being tired". It's not just a matter of lying on bed with a bunch of books. That helps NOTHING.

You're weak. You can't eat anything properly because your appetite is helter skelter and even if you can eat, you vomit it all up. You can't sleep properly even though you're DEAD tired and too lethargic to do anything else. You have migraines attacking your head, your muscles ache, you can't breathe properly.

You're in this state where you can't even take proper care of yourself because you're too fucking tired. You get hit with a flu bug, a cold, a sore through, a sniffle. Yet because your body is already so bloody compromised, you get the WORST of it. You can't recover, unless there is medical intervention.

My friend is hardly wealthy - she works herself to the BONE and then goes beyond that so that she has money to survive. I am not a wealthy kid. Yet hospitals are not alien to us.

I actually had to be FORCED to get into hospital once. I got hit with a bad flu and thought I could sleep it off at my dorm. Where my only meals are ramen noodles, where sleep is optional, where my room is stuffy and noisy, where I am alone. My best friend (the one who also gets hospitalized) had to CALL MY PARENTS to pick me up, because I wasn't willing to go home. I thought I could sleep it off, just a few more days.

Luckily my dad happened to be in the area and was flying back that night, so we booked an extra seat and I flew home. As soon as I got home, I collapsed - and off to the hospital I go.

You think it's so fucking easy to be hooked up to an IV for days on end, to get your fingers pricked EVERY SINGLE DAY, to not be able to stomach anything because your stomach's a mess, to nearly be KILLED by an allergic reaction to medicine that could help you, to be stuck in bed all fucking day just staring at the ceiling because you are too tired and drugged up to do anything else?

You think that's easy? Then you take our place.
posted by divabat at 4:04 AM on April 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


Thanks divabat. The responses to this question have been bothering me since they started rolling in, but I wasn't sure I wanted to respond in such a hate-filled room. Geez, people ... angry, bitter and jealous much?

Also not a celebrity, not wealthy, don't drink or do drugs, and am not so self-important as to think I have to go to a hospital for a vacation, and yet I have been in the hospital for exhaustion twice in my 42 years of life.

The first time was in college ... mid terms coming up, trying to work a full-time job to pay for school, and I caught a cold. It was just a simple cold, right? I can take a few days, stay at home, stay in bed and study, do some of my work over the phone, take some Nyquil, and everything will be OK, right? A few days later I was feeling a bit better, so I went back to classes and work. I had to. I didn't have any sick days, I needed my job and paycheck, and those mid terms weren't going to go away. The low grade fever kept hanging around. I just kept getting weaker and weaker, until I didn't even have the strength to get out of bed to feed myself. My roomie and friends had mid terms and jobs too, so they couldn't be there all day to make sure I was getting proper food and liquids. My family was hundreds of miles away. By the next weekend, when my roomie made a big breakfast for us and told me to come eat something, I stood up, walked into the kitchen and fell over. She took me to the hospital, because she didn't know what to do.

End result? I was worn the fuck out and a simple cold and fever had taken root, and I became too weak too quickly to just get "over it" at home on my own. My body wasn't even capable of fighting off a 48 hour bug, and then a lack of proper diet and liquids had lead to malnutrition and dehydration which didn't help. A week and a half of IVs, injections, and forced sleep, I walked out feeling human again, but it was still some many weeks before I was 100% again.

The second time I had been sick with food poisoning a few months earlier and hadn't really started feeling good again, was dealing with a terminally ill parent, had a close relative recently die, had a career and household of my own to maintain, and was carrying around loads of high level stress. My husband got the flu. I caught it from him. It's just the flu, right? A little bed rest is all I need, so that's what I did. I went to bed with some books and a TV and some bottles of flu medicine. Then I stopped being able to keep anything in my stomach except for simple broth and small glasses of water, and I just kept getting weaker. I still kept thinking, if I could just get enough rest, I could sleep it off. It had only taken my husband a week to shrug it off, and in the past that was how long it had taken me to kick the flu too. At the end of the week, when I was doing no better and only getting weaker and weaker, I went to the doctor. He immediately had me checked into the hospital. My body had been under such stress that it wasn't doing what it was supposed to do. My immune system was tired. I was tired. No amount of laying around the house not eating, barely drinking, and not getting good sleep was going to make any of it better. I was, once again worn the fuck out, and I got to spend some time with needles in my hand feeding me liquids and nutrients, getting pricked with needles at all hours, and being doped up so much I mostly didn't know what time if day it was.

Not having health insurance either time, no posh-posh private room for me. It was no vacation, and then I had to pay for it for ages afterward (talk about stress). Would I have rather just stayed in bed at home or gone to a resort by a beach? Hell yes, and both options would have been cheaper. Neither option would have done a bit of good for the fact that my body was so tired it was incapable of fighting off the simplest of germs, and once you get that weak, other problems start cropping up.

So thanks for all the hate in this thread. I guess the next time someone asks me about having spent time in the hospital, I'll be sure to hang my head in shame, because obviously being exhausted to the point of having to be hospitalized means I had a drug problem or I just wanted a vacation and some pampering instead of the truth which was I had too much stuff that had to be dealt with and too little energy to do so and wore my body out to the point it wasn't functioning properly anymore. Talk about attaching stigma to something!

So yes ... real, normal, run-of-the-mill people do end up in the hospital for exhaustion for reasons that don't involve being a party animal or just wanting attention. I'm not even sure why I am bothering to share this with the masses, because I am sure someone will point out to me exactly how I could have avoided it had I just gone to bed and gotten some sleep or find some other fault of my own to castigate me with. At least that's the way it feels after reading some of these responses. But I'm really happy for the rest of you that you have never found yourself in the position of having too much expected and demanded of you, of having to get things done because there is no one else to do them, and have the luxury of just being able to go to bed for some days at the first sign of sniffles or take a lengthy vacation when you feel you need one. Must be nice. Some of the rest of us don't always have that luxury and it wears on you until your body says it can't take anymore. Here's hoping you never find out what that's like, because I will tell you, it's no fun at all.

And as far as celebrities go, being "hospitalized for exhaustion" might be a codeword for "none of your fucking business." Maybe they have a health problem they don't want broadcast across the world. Maybe they are getting tested for cancer or some other serious issue. Maybe they actually are exhausted from touring/filming schedules and the life of being a celebrity. Maybe they think their health problems should be personal and private. Why the hell should they have to tell us what the reasons for their going to the hospital are? Haven't you ever not wanted to discuss a health problem with the general public ... or do you announce your reasons for seeing a doctor on the streets of downtown as soon as you walk out of the doctor's office? I'm guessing by the number of anonymous questions about health problems here at AskMefi, that at least some normal people don't like to broadcast their health issues far and wide. Imagine being followed around by cameras and reporters all the time and not even being able to go to a doctor or hospital without people asking why or speculating. Wouldn't you maybe want to be vague about the reasons as well, because it really isn't anyone else's business but your own?
posted by Orb at 8:09 AM on April 21, 2007 [9 favorites]


Follow-up here, and yes, some sympathy for celebrities: There's was a short profile of Judy Garland on TCM just now. Imagine someone who was used and overworked from childhood onward, pushed and twisted one way and another, buttered up, flattered, lied to, followed endlessly by the press, and deliberately made to live in a sort of artificial world. Imagine the sort of stress this person would be under. I suspect that the alcohol and drug use would really be a symptom of the stress and exhaustion, not the other way around. Celebrity self-indulgence? Perhaps, but celebrities are also taught to be that way, especially those who are in the business from childhood.

Or maybe it's just that this middle-aged queen saw Judy on the screen and felt sorry for her, not judgmental. A little less judgement, a little more empathy, might do us all some good.
posted by Robert Angelo at 8:38 AM on April 21, 2007


A few weeks ago Popbitch had a blurb on celebs heading to the hospital for "asthma, dehydration and exhaustion" to get a perscription for clenbuterol, which raises body temp and thus burns calories.

Keep in mind, the source isn't the best, and I doubt it's nearly as wide spread as they seemed to think. The 3 "symptoms" they listed don't go hand in hand and I rarely hear of the asthma one, which is what would be needed for a clenbuterol script, but IANAD.
posted by jwells at 3:14 PM on April 21, 2007


MeTa.
posted by divabat at 11:14 PM on April 22, 2007


Are male celebrities ever hospitalized for the nebulous "exhaustion", or just females?

I'm not trying to be snarky. I just only recall young starlets being the ones who fall prey to this particular ailment.

Well, and Michael Jackson, but... well, okay, any male celebrities besides Michael Jackson?

Or, any "mature" celebrities? Anyone over say 35? Again, besides Michael Jackson?

divabat and orb: I think you guys are badly missing the point here... just because the two of you had a true experience, you have to admit it seems to happen to young starlets at an alarmingly high rate.

Just because many (including myself) are suspicious of this in Hollywood doesn't mean that it is totally imaginary and there is nothing to it. In other words, we're not minimizing your experience, we're just skeptical that these otherwise pampered, well nourished, wealthy, and well cared for (medically) top 0.1% of the country are regularly getting completely exhausted to the point of hospitalization.

Context is everything. Think of how often you hear of young fabulous celebrities being hospitalized for "exhaustion". Seems a little suspect, dontcha think? Especially considering the ones that have to do it multiple times. Mariah Carey seemed to be in the hospital every other week back when she was the "it" girl.
posted by Ynoxas at 1:39 PM on April 23, 2007


Are male celebrities ever hospitalized for the nebulous "exhaustion", or just females?

I'm not sure you'd count him as a "celebrity," but Neil Rudenstine, a former president of Harvard, took leaves of absence for exhaustion more than once during his tenure as president of Harvard. According to this 1994 article from the Harvard Crimson, Rudenstine took a leave for exhaustion in 1994 --- and had taken two other exhaustion-related leaves prior to that, one earlier time at Harvard and once when when he was at Princeton. It's not clear that he was hospitalized, but "diagnostic studies" were done.

This article makes it clear that Rudenstine was just tired. According to Albert Carnesale, the Harvard Provost, "He's not bed-ridden ... He's not hooked up to anything. What he is tired."
posted by jayder at 3:30 PM on April 23, 2007


In my previous comment, I meant to italicize the first sentence, to make it clear that I was quoting Ynoxas:

Are male celebrities ever hospitalized for the nebulous "exhaustion", or just females?
posted by jayder at 3:31 PM on April 23, 2007


Are male celebrities ever hospitalized for the nebulous "exhaustion", or just females?

If you google hospitalised for exhaustion, the first results include Isaac Hayes, James Brown, Stanley Kunitz and some American Idol guy.
posted by jacalata at 4:48 PM on April 23, 2007


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