You’re Up Next, After the Dead Dude: a Medical History Out of Monty Python

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In the course of my life I have sort of drawn the short straw as far as physical robustness goes.  I’ve had bronchitis and pneumonia so many times I’ve lost count.  I’ve had sinus infections from hell- even after sinus surgery.  I got rheumatic fever from an untreated case of strep throat when I was ten years old which has led to countless joint sprains and strains.  Any time an orthopedist looks at any x-ray of mine, they anticipate the repeat business.  They see dollar signs and drool.   I’ve had ongoing female issues ever since the illustrious birth of the POMC – severe pelvic pain and other unmentionable nasties- that culminated in a hysterectomy almost four years ago (which hindsight being 20/20 I wish had been done right along with the Childbirth From Hell and saved me the years of hassle.)

To add to the fun, I’m also diabetic.  Yay.

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One of the several surgeries I’ve had was memorable for the humor involved.  About 13 years ago I had a funky, mole-like growth on the side of my head about the size of a dime.  I really didn’t care about it much because my hair covered it up nicely, but I made the mistake of mentioning it at a Dr.’s appointment when he asked me if I had any funky skin issues.

Of course, that meant a trip to a dermatologist and then a plastic surgeon, because said funky growth was right on top of an important facial nerve.  If it caused a problem (i.e. if it was melanoma or some other horrible cancer thing like that) or even if it was removed incorrectly, I’d end up drooling out the side of my mouth, and my speech would be incoherent.  Forever.  Oh, what fun to be a drooling imbecile, should this guy cut through the wrong thing- but should it be melanoma- well, let’s take the risk and get rid of that.

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The good news is that the plastic surgeon was comfortable doing this surgery with a local anesthetic (oh, dammit, Lidocaine burns…) so they set me up at one of those outpatient surgical centers where people go to have stuff done that would have been done in the primary care Dr.’s office back in the day, but that they’re too afraid of lawsuits to do in the office now.

I got to the center about 15 minutes early.  I was supposed to have this done at 7:30 AM, be done before 9, and back to work in the afternoon.

One really sucky thing about even an outpatient, local-anesthetic surgery is they won’t let you eat a damned thing for hours and hours ahead of time, because they’re afraid you’ll ralph on them.  By 1:30 (PM)  I was getting pretty pissy from not eating, and highly annoyed from enduring the barrage of torrid daytime TV garbage cranked up in the surgical waiting room.  I had already finished both my word-find and my crossword books, and was actually thinking about reading the three year old copies of such lovely periodicals as Urology Digest, Hemorrhoid Monthly and Sports Illustrated.  I was so perturbed that I almost didn’t notice all the activity going in and out of one of the operating rooms.

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There is boredom, and there is waiting room boredom.  It’s excruciating.

Apparently the guy who was on my surgeon’s schedule ahead of me dropped dead on the operating table while having some sort of minor surgery, like an ingrown toenail removal or something.  Only he took his time dropping dead, because they had the freaking trauma team running in and out of there for about three hours.

At 2PM the surgeon finally comes out to get me, and frankly, I’m somewhat rattled by that time.  I hadn’t eaten all day (or the night before) and I was not in a very nice mood.  He asks me if I want to go ahead and get it done. I told him hell yes, because I had only taken one day off work, and knowing the ass-clown paper pushers at that hospital I’d be 90 years old before they would see fit to schedule me in again.

 

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So I get wheeled in and the surgeon starts in with the Lidocaine- with what I thought was a bit of unnecessary roughness, but I figured I better not comment because I know what happened to the last guy.  As my head is burning from all the Lidocaine shots, he comments,

“Just don’t die on me like the last guy.  It sort of makes me look bad when my patients drop dead.”

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Five minutes later the funky growth was on its way to pathology, and I had about 8 stitches in the side of my head.   In spite of his roughness with injecting all that Lidocaine, the actual repair was done very neatly, and I’m happy to report he left me vocally articulate and drool-free.

Thankfully whatever the funky growth was, it never came back, and it wasn’t melanoma or anything else that would have killed me. It probably could have stayed there forever and not been any kind of big deal- but- Murphy’s Law being what it is, if I’d left it there it would have turned into something nasty.

bring out your dead

What scares me is that the way that the healthcare industry is going (and especially with the government gravy train and the abominable, evil Obama being involved in it) is that people like me with chronic conditions are going to be hurried along to die.  Part of me sort of goes along with that- and there is a time when medical intervention is pretty much pointless, but part of me wonders why it’s so hard to get just basic, necessary care.  Every time you go to a doctor they want to send you for this or that test or this or that specialist or this or that study, when they know that a.) nothing you have can really be cured, just managed somewhat, and b.) you don’t need to see 14 different specialists for every stupid basic problem that a primary care Dr. should be able to (and allowed to) treat.  The entire medical industry is geared toward how much money they can shovel in.  The doctors are more afraid of lawsuits than anything, and they can’t really afford to care much about actually getting people better.  They care more about not getting sued, and I can’t blame them.

How about tort reform?  Get rid of the bullshit lawsuits, and let doctors do what they’ve been trained to do.  Unfortunately that would make too much sense and save too much money, so nobody’s going to do anything to derail the gravy train.

If I could I’d go to the dogs’ vet.  She went to school longer and has a lot more actual sense than a lot of medical doctors, and she charges a whole hell of a lot less.

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