Monday, June 20, 2011

The Surgery

Nasty bruise, huh?

These are the aftereffects of a minor, elective surgery to fix a SLAP lesion in hubby's shoulder. He'd been having pain for a while and a contrast MRI showed the problem. We discussed surgery options with our doctor, decided on a hospital and chose a date. I've never had surgery nor went through the process with anyone in the US, but I have a feeling it's a bit different here. First, the informality of the interactions with our doctor; it was all so easy! They handled all the insurance stuff, which was great and a new experience for me. We received no paperwork packets pre-surgery, no special instructions. It was like scheduling a massage more than a night in the hospital. The doctor said "be here at this time, stop eating and drinking at this time and bring a change of clothes." That was it.

Second difference, the doctor is not affiliated with the hospital. I chose one in the Z. Sul that I'd been to once before, for a quick visit to the emergency room. They advertise being a bi-lingual hospital, which I thought would be nice if I ended up not staying the night. The hospital's surgery center (and nurses), from what I could understand, are for rent. The doctor books it with the hospital, finds an open date and time, and the hospital contacts your insurance company to make sure they'll be paid. V decided on an evening surgery, 7 pm, since they wanted him overnight, in case there were complications.

We arrived at 4, waited, were taken in to sign some paperwork and then sent up to our room.
Oh, we arrived MUCH too soon. And then it was a comedy of errors, which would have been funny had I not been hungry, nervous and cold and my husband about to have his first surgery ever.

The hospital really dropped the ball on the service bit. First, food. The nutritionist came by to assure V that he'd have a meal after the surgery. Neglected to tell him it would be breakfast. Not very nice. Under the influence of his drugs post-surgery, he did complain about this. Many, many times.

My dinner had to be ordered from the copa kitchen, and someone was going to come around and take my order. I double checked. "They'll stop by" she said. So did the nurse. But when I was sitting in the hall and watched the electric warmers go by, I knew there was going to be no dinner for me if I didn't get proactive. I am one of those people who needs to eat on a regular schedule, and sometimes, I forget to pack granola bars. I get mean when I'm hungry, then weepy. I was at weepy, because I too, had been fasting in sympathy for hubby. So I chased down the warming cart and talked to the ladies. Dinner WAS over. My heart and stomach fell. Thankfully, like the blankets, there was an extra...and yes, I was supposed to have ordered dinner by 6pm. How were we to know?

The surgery went well and they brought a loopy man back to my room, who looked like hubby but was MUCH more mumbly talkative than when he left. Go drugs! Made me smile. But he was cold, which is normal after anesthesia. After an hour of trying to get someone to bring us a blanket, I tackled a janitor (not really, I asked nicely) who got housekeeping on the radio, which was more than I could do as they wouldn't answer their phones. They were all.out.of.blankets. I gave him my best "is this the best you can do oh well it's Brazil but it would be so nice if you could find one" look and you know what? It arrived at our door about five minutes later. Funny how those things work. (And I hope they didn't steal it off another patient.) Then I had to dial around for awhile until someone could bring me a pillow, because they forgot that, too.

In the AM, the doctor came by and gave V the good to go. But he needed to eat first. Which took a while...and guess who didn't get breakfast and had to beg one? Yup. Me. (And I nearly fainted, 2x, while waiting for the food. I don't do so well on an empty stomach. While lying on the floor waiting for the room to stop spinning, I had this funny vision of the nurse walking in to suddenly find she had TWO patients. Maybe this is why they charge extra for visitors!) I was a super happy person when breakfast arrived. After eating, we waited for the nurses to come by to give us our official "alta" or release from the hospital. Guess what? No one came. So when I went downstairs to find someone so we could sign, pay for my stay (oh yes, you have to pay, 4 star hotel prices, for a sofa, sheets and a towel (which I used as a blanket until the nice janitor found one for me)...and I had a very polite but looooong complaint session.

Turns out, someone forgot to give us our information and welcome packet from the hospital. And forgot to tell the staff I was spending the night. And forgot to do their jobs. The hospitality coordinator was very apologetic.

I would still recommend the hospital, but don't count on them really being bi-lingual. V would have been really lost without my Portuguese, because the night staff didn't seem too English-friendly, though they were extremely competent and helpful. Our doctor, however, was great, and the surgery seems to have been a great success and hubby is healing nicely.

Thanks to all who prayed for us and sent positive thoughts and love and hugs!


anne said...

wow! isn't it funny how it makes a good story, but isn't always fun in the "happening" of it ?? Glad he's ok. glad you survived as well! you'all need to always carry food w/you -- protein bars/gorp, something, for these emergs!

anne said...

not to be squeeeemisshhhh, but wish you'd post a new post...the bruised/sad photo of your man's shoulder, etc---it's unsettling!