a Seething Wifey.
Today, I once again drove the 61-mile round trip to Big Regional Hospital for an anaesthesia review. Seemingly, this was the last barrier between Ann and the operating table. If the Consultant Anaesthetist was prepared to knock me out, All Systems Were Go for an early operation (plenty of scheduling space in October, remember?!).
I was worried about my weight. Told to both ‘optimise my BMI’ (ie, reduce it to 29, which would be 82kg for me) AND reduce my shadow to at least that of an 88kg woman, I… well, I went for the easier option. On my favourite scales, I am exactly 88kg. The new scales I bought when my favourite ones went a bit peculiar and deducted half a stone overnight (cue an incredulous YAY followed by belated suspicion and eventual sorrow) weigh me, alas, consistently five pounds heavier. I was worried that the Anaesthetist would tell me to bugger off and lose another stone, which would send me to the back of the queue, and put me well into 2011.
I arrived, at 10am, deliberately dehydrated and cursing slow bowel motility, juuuust in case that one crucial pound here or there might swing it for me. When they eventually lassoed a passing consultant who was evidently dashing from one Big Surgery Gig to another, and was nearly out of breath – I had been waiting 40 minutes for them to locate someone sufficiently senior to cope with my oddities – he shook hands charmingly, smiled genuinely, swept me with a glance, gestured down at my notes with a very latin gesture (despite his… Turkishness? At a guess.) of incomprehension and cried ‘You look very fit! Why are you here?’
I goggled at him briefly, before stuttering that it was either my weight or my heart which had landed me in Remedial Anaesthesia Fitness.
‘My Consultant said 88kg,’ I continued hopefully. He made another large gesture at my pink-trousered-and-black-t-shirted quivering form which, although I cannot quite describe it, shouted ‘Phooey!’ quite loudly.
‘I’m sure your weight is fine! Here…’ ruffling through my recent (abortive) pre-op clinic notes ‘…look, you are 89.5kg! So, what is wrong with your heart?
‘Umm… well, nothing.’
We stared at each other for a moment of mutual stymie.
‘Well, they thought it might be back to front, but it turned out that, actually, it isn’t. Well, my IVC is in the wrong place, but my actual heart is fine! I saw Cardiology at Local Hospital, and there’s nothing wrong with it. And my arrthythmia is completely benign.’
More hurried sifting through notes. Eyebrows – mighty, well-endowed eyebrows – were furrowed.
‘I can’t see Local Hospital notes here. Tell me again: what is the matter?’
I do badly when I’m flustered. I get cognitive lock-up, aphasia, and Complete Fucking Idiot syndrome. The more I confidently reassured him (in vocabulary that was not conducive to gravitas. I’m pretty sure I called my IVC [Inferior Vena Cava] my Intravenous Cava at one point.) that I was Totally OK, than I could feel the hole under my feet crumbling deeper… and deeper. I was beginning to hear an echo from down there, in fact.
He had a listen to my heart – I’d stopped protesting by this point that everyone and their bloody dog has had a listen, and it is N.O.R.M.A.L. – and said that he wanted to see Local Hospital’s findings before OK-ing me for surgery.
‘We need to know where things are, you see!’ he informed me seriously. ‘We will be…’ pause to throw hands up in air and blow out his cheeks ‘… blowing you up, you know?’
I did know. It’s an aspect of laparoscopy that mentally curdles my dinner, in fact.
I thanked him for his care of me, and trudged out into reception. I know how note-borrowing between hospitals works. It is … slow.
I headed for the coffee shop to re-hydrate myself, where it occurred to me that I might circumvent the process. I scurried over to reception and obtained phone numbers and fax numbers. I rang my GP surgery, where the staff know me well, poor things, and arranged for my Local Hospital cardiology discharge paperwork, of which they had a copy, to be faxed immediately to the Regional Hospital. I phoned [Redacted] and left a message (Ansaphone! Again!) arranging for her to take the fax straight down to anaesthesia, and requesting a call-back to confirm action processed. By mid-afternoon, I calculated, I would be good to go! I had Beaten The System!
Except I wasn’t quite dreaming happy dreams about bounding onto the operating table and enthusiastically baring my all at the be-scrubbed ones, because this process has fucked up before. Ho, yes!
So, I rang [Redacted] ten minutes before I knew she was due to go home, as, quel surprise! I’d heard nothing, and enquired about progress. She cleared her throat, and I knew immediately that I’d been beaten after all.
She had, it turns out, taken the fax where I’d told her to, but the Cardiology discharge report was deemed insufficient. Anaesthetist wants the full ultrasound report and ECG report before he pronounces me Fit for Surgery. Until I am Fit For Surgery, I cannot even be pencilled into the surgery schedule, lest there be a slip between cup and lip, and theatre time is cancelled. But she calmly informed me that there was no immediate urgency confirming my cardiac fitness anyway, because they only do one surgery slot a month for Difficult Obs&Gynae, and the next two are Booked Solid.
JUST LIKE I KNEW THEY WOULD BE.
[Redacted] at this point, received a piece of my mind. It was one of the more shouty pieces, too.
Her explanations for the sorry saga of incompetence were incomprehensible and acutely unconvincing. She and her cohorts have Fucked Up, and presumably, by virtue of the fact that an abject apology did not feature in her ramblings, are still disclaiming their errors. I have repeatedly fallen into a mysterious bureaucratic hole, yet this is in no way the bureaucrat’s actual fault. Presumably: it is the hole’s fault for existing in the first place! I can see why a long enough stint in… ummm, Obs & Gynae – might make you think that.
I could spit, I’m so annoyed.
I have told her that I am ringing her in two weeks, on the basis that she seems unable to return any call of mine. If, by then, she does not A) have my Local Hospital notes and B) an anaesthetist’s good word on my suitability for surgery, then I shall… actually, I don’t think I clearly enumerated the Shall. I shall go down there with a big fucking pointy stick, is what I Shall.
There was some yammering fawning on the other end of the phone by this time, and although the 4th October and 1st of November slots are full, I have first refusal of any cancellations and – get this – she tells me she is absolutely making a pencil note in her diary that she must prioritise me for pencilling into the next available slot, which is the 29th November. I cannot be Properly Pencilled in until I am Officially Fit, so I am pencilled in for pencilling-in instead. I am pre-pencilled. Or something.
And, as John gloomily observed, there’s lots that could still go wrong with this yet. Cardiology were only concerned with my heart – Abdomens are Not Their Thing – and made no real investigation of my little piddling IVC transposition. I am now pessimistically convinced that Obs & Gynae, before they start merrily slicing about in there, will want to reassure themselves (such pussies!) whereabouts the big blood-carrying thingies actually are.
Fer the love o’God. All I wanted was a quick laparoscopy & hysteroscopy! I’ve taken a year to repeatedly whizz around the carousel to… here.
Any bets on how much longer?
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