Friday, October 16, 2009

Post-Surgery Thoughts

It is less than three full days since my surgery and I am feeling much better than I had expected to. Yes, there is still a fair amount of pain, and I have bruising and swelling in places that cannot be discussed on a family-friendly blog, but these are small things. My doc’s advice proved to be sound – forgo the Vicodin if possible, and manage pain with ibuprofen, ice-packs and whiskey with a milk of magnesia chaser. Worked like a charm; just wish I had thought to buy better scotch before the procedure.
I received the kind of health care reserved for the privileged in our society. I did not have to jump through hoops to receive permission for the procedure (somewhat oddly, even when a hernia repair is clearly needed it remains classified as “elective” surgery). The Groth Center for Outpatient Surgery at the Appleton Medical Center makes undergoing surgery no less pleasant than it needs to be. Everything happened on schedule; everyone was kind, friendly and courteous. Even the post-op muffin was of superior quality!
One interesting moment: before the procedure I had been tended to by several nice RNs, all of whom appeared to be named “Laura” or “Laurie.” There was “shaving your private parts Laurie” with her remarkable friend, “Mr. Sticky Hand.” There was “hook up the I.V. Laura.” So when another young woman stopped by I assumed she was yet one more RN, but it turned out to be my anesthesiologist. She explained that she would be giving me a “cocktail” that fell short of a full general anesthesia, and named its components. When one compound was named she grimaced and said “I assure you than when used by a skilled anesthesiologist it is both safe and effective.” A small light went on for me and I asked “will it instill in me an intense desire to own a chimpanzee and a giraffe?” She said it would not. Who knew that Michael Jackson’s death had made life more difficult for anesthesiologists?
As noted earlier, I know myself to be very privileged. That makes me both grateful and angry. Quality medical care should not be reserved solely for the fortunate. If I were already on Medicare I suspect that I would have needed to wade through some paperwork to demonstrate that this surgery was necessary. Fair enough. If our entire society were on a single-payer system, it is possible that my surgery would have been delayed for several months, and that it would not have been performed by the region’s most experienced surgeon who happens to be an old friend. And that excellent muffin might have been a stale graham cracker. I could live with all that if it would mean that quality, affordable health care was available to all. I mean, why should I be the only one privileged to have a blue, swollen groin?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

John, I hope it was at least a single malt.