On Friday, I went for my Pre-admission Session at the hospital for my hip replacement surgery.
Very impressive indeed.
I had been told that the session would take at least two hours, possibly as much as four; that I would see a nurse, an anaesthesiologist, have blood work done and have x-rays taken.
We arrived about ten minutes before my appointed time and I had just enough time to make a pit stop before I was called into the inner sanctum by the nurse.
She had a myriad of questions to ask -- they leave no stone unturned. By the time surgery day rolls around, there will be nothing they don't know about me!
I had been instructed to bring all my medications with me, which I did of course. But I also carry in my purse a detailed list of all my medications (including all over-the-counter supplements that I take) and all hospitalizations (surgeries) I've had. The sheet also lists my drug allergies and the fact that I use a CPAP machine. I find it's easier to hand that to medical professionals than to try to remember the answers to questions when asked.
The nurse must have thanked me twenty times for "being so organized."
It had been John's intention to stay at the hospital the day of the surgery, so that he could see me immediately that I came out. My little chickadee was going to be there too, as was a good friend of mine.
Not gonna happen.
Turns out that nobody, but nobody, is allowed to see me until I'm in my room after the surgery.
And because I have a seizure disorder, I will be held in recovery for longer than normal.
Oops. I use a CPAP machine. I'll be kept in recovery longer still.
"You best go home and wait 'til the next day," the nurse said to John, "because it could easily be that long before she'll be in a room."
Once the nurse finished all her questions and had taken my weight and height, she escorted me to the blood lab where I would wait to have my blood work done. She returned to her quarters to finish the paperwork (normally, the patient has to sit with her while she writes everything down but she was able to send me ahead to the lab because she could refer to my written documentation to complete the forms -- saved both of us time).
I didn't wait more than five minutes at the lab. Three vials of blood were taken.
When I finished at the lab, I returned to the nurse's quarters to meet with the anaesthesiologist. The nurse was just finishing the paperwork, and she thanked me again for being so organized, commenting that it made her job so much easier.
I waited perhaps another two minutes before the anaesthesiologist joined us.
He too thanked me for the detailed documentation. I guess they're not used to dealing with people who take their health care seriously.
We discussed the protocol used for "putting me under" and he asked me for details of my difficulty with anaesthetic (that was one of the questions that had been asked by the nurse). When I told him about my two earlier incidents of breathing difficulties, he didn't at all downplay the seriousness of the implications. "So," he says, "you're allergic to sedation."
"Is it actually an allergy?" I asked.
"Well," he replied, "if you're having an asthmatic response to sedation, yes you are allergic."
Finally, a coherent explanation for something that has frightened me for thirty years!
Oh, and I won't actually "be awake" for the surgery. They use a drug called propofol (like I'd never heard of it before!) to keep me "under."
"So you use the 'Michael Jackson' drug," I commented.
"That was seriously misused," he quickly countered. "If I stop it, and tap you on the shoulder, you would respond."
"But you'll be in the room the entire time?" I asked. "Just in case there's a problem?"
"Oh yes," he said. "I would lose my licence otherwise."
He told me that he would give me an antihistamine as well as cortisone to prevent any allergic response, but he would also be monitoring me very closely.
He was a very reassuring, comforting gentleman. (In fact, the surgeon doing my procedure recently did one on him and everything went very well indeed.)
Once we finished there, I was sent to the x-ray department. Now, we took the longest possible route to get there (don't ask!) but get there we did.
At the intake desk, more paperwork was generated and I was sent down to the actual x-ray unit. On the way there, I noticed that the form I was carrying wasn't mine.
Back I went, to get the proper paperwork (no telling which body part they might have x-rayed had I not noticed the error!).
When I got to the x-ray unit, the girls were sitting there in confusion with my paperwork (the patient ahead of me had arrived with my form) wondering where I was. I explained the error and told them that I had noticed it and went back to get the right form (now they had two for me and none for the poor dear who had arrived ahead of me).
The technician took me into the x-ray room, and left the receptionist to figure out the other patient's paperwork.
Two x-rays were taken, but oh that is a painful procedure. (I mean, really, if I could assume that position, I wouldn't need to have my hip replaced!)
I had been told that when I finished in x-ray, I could go home.
We left the hospital precisely two hours after my appointment time.
Not bad at all.