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Long story to follow…

I visited my physician around the first of the year and expressed concern about a hard lump above my navel. The lump had been increasing in size steadily for the past 6 years, since it first appeared after I had my gall bladder out.

My physician wouldn’t even touch it, she asked me a couple of questions, to which I answered that it was sometimes harder and larger than at other times. Her response was, “it could be an adhesion from the old surgery or it could be fecal matter.” I asked her if it could be a hernia and she emphatically told me no, a hernia doesn’t change in size, isn’t prominent one day and hardly noticeable the next.

Three months later when I saw her again I explained that I was having a lot of pain and could push the lump back into my belly and that alleviated some of the pain. Suddenly, she decided it was a hernia and I needed an Ultra Sound. I explained to her that I was concerned about being able to afford my deductible and co-pay, so she directed me to call around and get some prices for the test, call my insurance company, etc.

I tried to get the cost, but wasn’t very successful. I decided I had to do something regardless of the cost, so I called her office to ask them to write the order for the Ultra Sound, at which time her receptionist informed me it wasn’t an Ultra Sound she wanted me to have, but a CT Scan. She then told me that CT machines have a weight and size limit that I surely exceeded. She referred me to a General Surgeon, suggesting that he might be able to do a hands on exam and determine to do surgery without a CT Scan.

I visited the surgeon and he had a ‘smart-ass’ bed-side manner. When I asked him questions as to what the benefit is of a CT Scan over an Ultra Sound he immediately replied that I was ‘second guessing him’ already, that I didn’t trust him, blah, blah, blah. When I reacted, he said he was just kidding.

He definitely said it was a hernia and ordered a CT Scan, saying there were new facilities and machines that could accommodate the larger patient. The following week, I had a CT Scan, the week after that I met with the surgeon for a consultation.

He explained to me that it was a ‘medium-large’ hernia consisting of a 5.5cm tear in the abdominal wall with a large balloon of intestine mushroomed through. He told me he’d repair it with surgical mesh and there would be a 6 week recovery time. He sent me to another room within his office to schedule the surgery.

The surgery was set for June 18, approximately 3 and a half weeks from the consultation. They set me up for a ‘pre-admission’ phone call on June 12 and instructed me to call the hospital June 15 to get my arrival time.

During the ‘pre-admission’ phone call I was informed that I should have had blood work and an EKG completed before surgery. I explained that I was given no such orders and complained that I had 3 business days before my surgery date to complete it, such unnecessary stress caused by someone’s oversight in the surgeon’s office, as it appeared the requirement was one of the hospital, for anyone taking blood pressure medicine for high blood pressure. The surgeon’s office hadn’t included that condition nor medication on the paperwork that had been sent to the hospital. I was asked to rush to the hospital that night and get both tests completed, so there would be time to get a release from my family physician if there were any concerns as a result of the EKG.

I called the surgeon’s office and asked if they were aware of this oversight. They tried to tell me that because I saw the surgeon and went right from consultation to scheduling that my information hadn’t been completely added to the file, therefore the woman who scheduled the surgery didn’t have access to that information. I corrected them, as I had provided that information 2 weeks earlier when I’d completed my ‘new patient information packet.’ Immediately, the receptionist changed her story saying that anyone under the age of 50 was not required by the hospital to have pre-surgical blood work nor EKG.

The hospital had already explained that to me, with the caveat that it was required of anyone regardless of age if they had high blood pressure and took medication for it. Finally, the receptionist apologized for their mistake.

Yesterday I arrived at the hospital early and was taken upstairs to change into a paper gown and non-skid slippers. I had an IV inserted, asked to use the restroom before that was completed, but was told I could go after, as it was mobile and could easily go with me. They made me watch a safety video for during my stay in the hospital, instructing me to not get out of bed alone or without a nurse. When the IV had been inserted I was immediately transported to the OR holding room. In this room, I was administered antibiotics and completed some paperwork.

I was introduced to the Anesthetist Nurse and the Anesthetist. The Nurse in the holding room, Kelly, was a hoot, we laughed, talked about everything imaginable, and even sang a song. Twice she took me, bed and all, to the restroom because my surgery was pushed back by more than 2 hours, because the surgery before mine ran over due to blood work that needed to be done before the surgeon could close the patient.

Kelly apologized to me for the first set of nurses not honoring my request to use the restroom, she said they should have taken me when I asked and even after that before transporting me, they should have offered to take me.

I was introduced to two other patients who came in and left while I was there waiting.

My OR Nurse came out to see me, his name was Travis. He was a tall guy, goatee, bright blue eyes and a soothing voice. Kelly remarked that it should be against the law for him to be at work smelling that good. He DID SMELL VERY GOOD!! I told him it was a good thing I was going to have a tube down my throat, so I couldn’t talk in my sleep because that might be embarrassing… LOL That big guy blushed in five or six shades of pink and red.

Before he left the room, after telling me I was a card, I asked what cologne he was wearing so I could get some for my husband and he told me it was “Versace”.

While Kelly and I waited for my surgery, we ended up singing “Soft Kitty” from The Big Bang Theory. I asked her if she thought Travis might be persuaded to sing it for me. When he came back into the room I asked him to sing soft kitty for me and he told me he didn’t know what it was would I sing it to him, so Kelly and I sang it to him. He blushed and said we were a hoot. LOL

My surgery had been delayed for more than 2 hours, but had only taken approximately an hour, the surgeon told my husband it went well.

I spent approximately 2 and a half hours in recovery before they took me to a room. They monitored my vital signs and administered pain medication (morphine) twice. My husband had been running home throughout the day and coming back, as my son came down with a serious case of pink eye two days before my surgery and required drops be put in his eyes every 2 hours. After he came back to the hospital around 9:00 the nurse realized they hadn’t given him the prescription for the pain medication that had been prescribed and the pharmacies were closed. She suggested I stay over night instead of going home same day, because I wasn’t going to have pain medication to take all night long.

My husband and I agreed that the best idea was to spend the night. Apparently when you have a ‘same-day-surgery’ you can remain for 24 hours after leaving surgery without additional charges.

The nurse told me she would give me a pain pill at 11:00 and they would be administered every 4 hours thereafter. She thought it was best for me to sit up in the chair with the foot rest elevated, since that position seem to be the least painful.

While my husband was there, the nurse came in dutifully to assist with standing me up and getting me into the bathroom. He assisted me with cleaning up and they got me back to the chair and settled again. After my husband left for the night, they turned out the lights and I turned off the television. In about a half hour I fell asleep, only to be rudely awakened in about 3 ½ hours as a huge bang occurred right outside the door to my room, then a series of loud voices followed and there was additional banging around.

I noticed the nurse looking in my room so I motioned for her and asked if I was late for medication. She said if I needed it, I could have it, but I wasn’t on a schedule. It was only ‘as needed’. I asked her while she was there, giving me my medication if I could use the rest room. She proceeded to tell me that I could and should get up and walk around, move around, that the pain would subside quicker if I did so. She stood next to me but didn’t even help me get to my feet. I walked into the rest room by myself and sat down by myself. I explained to her that I would need help cleaning in the back, she told me to ring the bell.

I rang the bell and sat there an additional 5 min. or so until a knock at the door revealed a young woman named Amanda. She said, “Oh, you don’t have a yellow wrist band.” I said no, I don’t, why? She said “That indicates a risk of falling, so what do you need?” I explained to her what I’d been told about not getting up without a nurse, that “Dawn” the night nurse had just contradicted everything I’d been told previously about getting up, about my medication, etc. That I needed help with cleaning. She said certainly, went and got gloves and came back. She helped me and got me back to my chair where she stood and talked to me for a little bit.

After she left I was able to get back to sleep for a little bit, before Dawn came back with another nurse she was briefing on my care. She felt the need to wake me while she spoke to the new nurse. When I explained that she had told me differently than the previous nurses she just kept repeating what she’d said. “Dawn” commented to the new nurse, “The only reason she’s here is because the pharmacies were closed last night and she wouldn’t have her pain medication over night if she went home.”

When they left I fell back to sleep for a little bit. I had been awakened three or four times within a couple of hours time.

Another Assistant Nurse came in and asked me to do a survey about my experience on the floor, so I told her what I thought of “Dawn”. She apologized and told me I was right, the policy on the floor was that no one should get up and move around without the assistance of a nurse. She couldn’t help but apologize over and over again.

The duty Nurse came in and reviewed with me what the surgeon had done, what my care would be at home, etc. She told me he’d used sutures, that I could take the packing off when I got home, that I could shower tomorrow. She said I could take Aleve, as I typically did for back pain, in addition to the prescription medication. The said he’d used dissolving sutures and that he wanted me to call him to schedule a follow up in one week. They had told me to ‘continue to put ice packs’ on the wound, but they hadn’t put any ice on the incision area.

When we got home my husband called the surgeon’s office to schedule the follow up appointment but his receptionist explained that he wasn’t even in the office next week, that he didn’t require that, but the hospital did. They scheduled a follow up for 2 weeks from now.

The hospital didn’t even want to give me one tablet every 4 hours as needed for pain, but the prescription bottle says one or two tablets every 4 hours as needed for pain.

When we were removing the ice pack, it caught the surgical tape and pulled part of the packing off, revealing not sutures, but staples, so now my husband is furious and calling the surgeon’s office tomorrow to see if our instructions for caring for the wound are any different, since it wasn’t closed as we were told it had been.

This has been a fiasco right from the start. I don’t know if I’ve ever encountered so much incompetence. I really have no confidence in this surgeon, his office staff or the majority of the staff of the hospital.

The hospital is the same one that bought out 86 homes in the surrounding neighborhood, ours included, to expand, so they could compete with a much bigger ‘medical center’. I honestly think the level of care has suffered as a result of the expansion, which consisted mostly of ‘decorative’ areas of the building.

What an incredible ordeal this has been, one I hope is going to be over without any further complications.