Thursday, November 02, 2006

Surgical Fun

Francis Bacon, "3 Studies of a Crucifixion"

Things to do right before surgery:
  1. Get hair cut.
  2. Get pedicure.
  3. Laundry.
  4. Shower.
  5. Clear reading matter & laptop off bed.
  6. Dress for success: warm socks, pull-on pants, loose shirt, slip-on shoes, outerwear that fastens easily. All color-coordinated, of course--you never know where the "What Not to Wear" team may be lurking.
As instructed, I showed up at 9:00 a.m. today for 11:00 a.m. surgery on my dysfunctional right arm. After signing the usual endless consent forms with my left hand, I cooled my heels for 45 minutes. So I made good use of the time by scrawling on a piece of scrap paper: "Keep paper & pen by suggestion box." and dropping it into the Suggestion Box on the end table next to me. Later, I dropped in a second note: "Call patients by their full names ("Amy Jones"), instead of just their first names. We're adults, not children. Besides, many people have the same first name." They'd been calling for Bob and Bill, and I expected half the men there to stand up. I was the only Bella, but dammit, when a stranger is taking me to be cut up by "Doctor" So-and-So, I'd like to be referred to as "Ms. Stander."

OK, so I wasn't in a happy mood this morning.

I was unhappier still when the surgeon came by, and after writing "YES" on my right arm and drawing a circle over the most painful spot, he had me sign ANOTHER consent form. This one had me affirm that I understood that the surgery might not alleviate my symptoms; in fact could make them worse, necessitating MORE surgery. It's been exactly six months since I broke my arm; he told me it would take at least another six till we know whether the nerve damage has healed.

Then I signed a few more papers for the anesthesiologist. I felt like I was going in for a mortgage, not a surgical procedure. Which went fine, by the way. I was out by 3:00pm, as predicted, sporting a thick honkin' bandage from armpit to elbow, which has to remain dry and undisturbed for the next 10 days. (Good thing I took that shower!)

For the record, I like being sedated. No pain, (And the original pain remains , overlaid with the new.) Demerol is keeping the edge off for now, but I dread how I'm going to feel in the morning. Wish I could do as a friend suggested, and treat my body like a car--leave it at the shop and drive a loaner till everything's fixed.


Anonymous said...

Feel better! And I hope you will post more publicity horror stories; they're wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bella,

The calling you by the first name has to do with the goofy HIPPA rules. They can't use your whole name because it would violate your privacy. Same with the last name. So everybody is reduced to breaking all the rules of genteel society and call everybody by their first names and hope to h*ll nobody else is hanging about with the same first name.

Either that, or they could give you numbers.

Healthcare in this country is so messed up.

Bella Stander said...

Oh, for crying out loud! Nobody's supposed to hear my full name, yet everyone in earshot is privy to the intimate details of my health woes and medical care. And while you're in the waiting room, you can hear the receptionist exchanging patient info with other practicioners and insurance companies. This really IS messed up.

Anonymous said...

Um...yep. That pretty much it. And you so definitely do not want to know the amount of time and dollars, spent, to ensure compliance with HIPPA. If you think your doctors are looking increasingly haggard. If you notice you're waiting longer and longer for appts, and to be seen once you get there. If you notice your physician talking faster and faster, with a foot out the door and a desperate look in the eye...

Yes. It's freaking messed up.