Hernia: My Experience with Drive-By Surgery Dr. Rice
Hernia Story #2
It seemed like a good idea at the time. I had suffered with nonspecific abdominal discomfort for some time and had visited with my primary care doc, a urologist and finally with the nurse for a hernia surgeon. At the surgeon’s office, I finally encountered someone who appeared to know what was going on. I was pleased to have some hope, albeit hernia surgery.
So, it seemed like a good idea to have my hernia surgery as soon as possible, which turned out to be December 20th, just before Christmas. I could take some extra time off for the holidays and use my sick days rather than vacation time. Of course, I had no idea what I was in for.
While hospitals refer to it as “same day” or “outpatient” surgery, I have always called it “drive-by” surgery. Quite an experience.
I recently became familiar with the Chicken One app from Chick-fil-A. You sign in, fill out your billing information and place an order that is ready for you when you drive-by with minimal human interaction.
Drive-by surgery was not dissimilar.
- I signed in, completed my billing information as well as medical history and drug allergies.
- Chicken One saves my billing information and preferences; drive by surgery required me to provide billing and medical information several times.
- At Chick-fil-A, everything is ready when you arrive; only slightly less so with drive-by surgery.
The Littleton Adventist Hospital was very nice and everyone was pleasant and helpful. I have nothing but nice things to say about all the people I encountered during my adventure. I was settled into a pre-surgery room with a glass door looking out on the nursing station. I had my appendix out in 1968 and it was interesting to see how things had changed in the last 50 years: the main visible difference was that the hospital gowns are no longer white. Of course, there have been many advances in anesthetic drugs and surgical techniques as well.
We did have a funny experience.
When I changed into my hospital gown, the nurse put a sock on my left foot and an inflation device to prevent clots on my left calf. Since my right foot was cold, I bent my leg and put my right foot under my left thigh to keep it warm. I could not figure out why the nurse kept asking about prior surgeries and diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, until she finally asked, “well, what about your BKA (below knee amputation)”? When I showed her my right foot and leg, they got the same treatment as the left leg.
I had a brief visit (about 5 minutes) from my surgeon, and a slightly longer visit from the anesthesiologist. Barely enough time to get to know anything about a patient other than medical history and drug allergies. I was to be put to sleep with propofol and was interested in whether my urine would turn green. It’s pharmacology lore that singer Michael Jackson (who died on propofol) had green urine from the drug; evidently that is only common when propofol is used for more than six hours.
I eventually found myself in an operating suite with two nurses and the anesthesiologist.
Last I remember, I was inhaling pure oxygen. When I woke up in recovery, I had a “Brazilian” and a four-inch scar on either side where the incision was glued together. I had a pressurized “Q-ball” attached to me that infused local anesthetic into the surgical area; the ball gradually deflates as the anesthetic is used up. The team also left me a small sample of the mesh used in the procedure. I did not see the surgeon, anesthesiologist or nurses again, although a nurse did phone to check on me the following morning.
I like the Chicken One app and the time that it saves, but I prefer the old-fashioned approach to medical care in which we get to know more about our patients than their name and basic medical info.
One of the things I like about pharmacy interactions in the community and clinic is that those interactions are a little longer with time to get to know my patients.
After my drive-by hernia surgery experience, I better appreciate that time with your health care providers is an important part of establishing a good relationship and creating a great patient experience. Take some time to talk with your pharmacist in 2017.
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