Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bedside Manner

A couple of weeks ago I had minor laser eye surgery. Anything with "surgery" in the title doesn't seem minor, but the impact of surgery diminishes when the procedure is done at a local surgicenter. Thankfully the surgery went well as my doctor blasted away some membrane tissue that was a result of a previous surgery two years ago and my right eye is all sparkly and superpowered again. When you go for procedures like this, much of the time is spent in prep and waiting, which can try your nerves if the procedure is much more extensive. I brought a book to keep my mind occupied during the waiting and to make the time pass.

When it was time to take me back for actual prep, I was in a holding area along with countless other folks waiting for surgery....anything from other laser procedures to much more extensive operations....but none of which require overnight hospital stays. I'm a student of people. I'm fascinated by watching and listening to complete strangers as I roam this learn so much, and have a few laughs along the way. As I sat between two curtains waiting for my number to come up (um, ok, bad choice of phrases), I overheard a conversation between a surgeon and his patient in the next door curtain. The victim, I mean, um, er, patient, seemed to have a deviated septum. For those non-medical types out there that haven't watched an episode of St Elsewhere, ER, or House, that is a displacement of the nasal cavity. And from their conversation, this deviation was caused from some accident. Here's the lovely conversation I heard between the surgeon and patient...

Surgeon: Hello sir, are you ready to go?
Patient: Yes, I think I am (with extreme hesitation in his voice)
Surgeon: Well, sorry we're running late...that last procedure took an extra hour and a half than I originally planned. It was a mess in there. (I think a HIPAA rule was just broken)
Patient: Oh. (I'm sure this extra information was TMI for someone about to go under)
Surgeon: I see the nurse briefed you on the procedure. We'll be repairing your deviated septum and you'll be on your way.
Patient: I have a question. (In a fearful voice as the surgeon seemed to be distracted and in a hurry....two qualities you don't want in a surgeon)
Surgeon: Sure, shoot.
Patient: How long will the procedure take?
Surgeon: About an hour or so, unless it's like the last one I just did, which is possible. If you had injured your nose a different way, this would be a lot easier. (Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that's what the surgeon said)
Patient: Ok. So, what should I expect post surgery?
Surgeon: You'll be groggy and the pain meds will work for a while, then they'll wear off and you'll be in some pain until your oral meds kick in. (Then the surgeon proceeded to graphically describe how gross his nose would be. I'll spare my blogging audience that visual)
Patient: Ok. (Thinking "Sorry I asked")
Surgeon: Well, I'll see you in the operating room!

I stopped for a moment and thanked God that I've never had a surgeon like that and said a prayer for Mr. Patient. If he hadn't thought I was a complete whacko, I would have gone over there and given him a hug. I wonder if this is what healthcare reform will look like.


Anonymous said...

When I had Kaela, she was a scheduled C-section for 6:00 am. I said to the doctor, "Oh, good! You'll be fresh since it's so early and you won't mess up when you cut my belly!" And he said, "No, actually, that's my 24th scheduled for that shift. I will have been working 24 hours straight, and you're the last one."
So I got a little nervous, but I tried to manage a joke, and I said, "Well, will you at least pretend to ooh and ahh over our baby, since you'll be the first ever to see her and we're so excited?"
And he said, "Honestly, the shiny newness of bringing life into the world wore out years ago for me."
Wow! Cracked me up and cooled my jets all at once!! At least he stayed awake! :-)

Anonymous said...

Wow! I noticed the comment on your sparkly eyes. Ha ha!