I Ignore Unnecessary Surgery

Read A Medical Technician Uses Me As an Inanimate Teaching Aid

After roughly 45 minutes of studious poking and prodding, the EMG ended. There weren’t any bodily tissues or fluids that needed to be sent to a lab for analysis; a trained medical professional i.e. the labcoat lady should’ve been able interpret the available data. But when I asked for the verdict, she told me I’d have to talk to my doctor “in a few weeks.” Before I could open my mouth to debate her, she’d rushed out the door.

The day after the labcoat lady and her students administered the test, I phoned my alleged hand surgeon’s receptionist, Celia. She curtly sighed and told me that six weeks from then was the soonest she could schedule an appointment. Usually the head nurse working the day shift at the warehouse made a resident’s medical appointments. Since the potential surgery had been my idea, and given the nursing staff’s inability to concentrate on issues not closely monitored by the shrew of a head nurse, I decided to initiate the follow-through myself.

But I’d made the mistake of allowing the day nurse to schedule a medivan ride. She didn’t think I’d heard her mutter that this minor task would cut into her break time. The van predictably arrived late; I remembered that I always wasted at least an hour sitting in my hand surgeon’s waiting room, so I didn’t fret. Celia had scheduled the appointment for 1:30 in the afternoon. When 2:30 rolled around without so much as a fleeting acknowledgement of my presence, I decided to roll up and ask Celia if she’d in fact slated my appointment for 1:30. She stiffly smiled and deadpanned the standard excuse: “Sorry, we’re running a bit late today.” I threatened to leave. She shot me the evil eye and led me into an empty examination room.

Fifteen minutes later the squinty doctor from my previous visit zipped into the antiseptic cubbyhole. Of course I was anxious to learn of my EMG results. His rapid-fire blinking distracted me; the dandruff that caked his shoulders betrayed lax hygiene. He ignored my questions—I might as well been in an episode of The Twilight Zone. He only assured me that I needed surgery, and listed details of the proposed procedure. Then he dashed out of the room without waiting for my consent to any treatment.

As I was leaving, Celia, waving a business card, called out to me. She’d scheduled the surgery for exactly one week from that day. I considered that she routinely booked office appointments a month and a half in advance, and decided to blow off the clearly unnecessary surgery.

I didn’t feel compelled to cancel an operation to which I didn’t even agree, nor did I consider myself obligated to mention the situation to the charge nurse at the warehouse. The appointed day came and went—nobody ever acknowledged my absence from the hospital. One measly no-show hardly affected anyone’s bottom line.

One Response to “I Ignore Unnecessary Surgery”

  1. Chris Says:

    I work as a PCA in MN and routinely call in suspected (yea, right!) violations of the Vulnerable Adult law. A few times I have had to make the same complaint more than once. I have been retaliated against for these actions and have had to have an attorney deal with the company when that happened. (Hasn’t been a problem since then..) The company will not

    Sadly, the only way of getting a decent level of care is to be a pain in the ass and stand up for your rights. Your blog makes me ashamed to be associated with this industry. I’ve been considering leaving for a different job for some time now and I think after reading this I will finally go through with it. The way you describe the CNAs is right on the money in my experience. Most of the ones I work with can’t read or write English. They are the worst people I have ever worked with and I cannot believe how they seem to not get fired! (Actually I do. The turnover is so high that the supervisors overlook all but the most blatant infractions to keep the place staffed with the bare amount of workers. In the seven years I have worked in this place, they have never been fully staffed.)

    Your blog is one of the best I have ever read. I’m very glad you managed to escape the labyrinth of deception and shame that is our nursing home system.

    Look forward to reading more of your writing! It’s truly amazing!

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