The fatman chronicles--all hope renounce, ye lost, who enter here

"If the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules."--Patterico's Pledge

Sunday, June 11, 2006

If Thine Eye Offend Thee...

...find a new ophthalmologist.

I've been going to the same ophthalmologist for about five years now. She is, from a technical standpoint, very good. She did a excellent job of removing a cataract from my right eye back in 2001, so when the same problem cropped up in my left eye I eventually (after dealing with some other, more life-threatening problems) went back to her. And was reminded why I didn't see her more often.

The wait. Every time I've ever gone to her office I've been kept waiting at least an hour past my appointment time before she's seen me. This time was no exception. If I hadn't literally been blind in my left eye by this time I would have left and gone hunting for a new doctor. But since I didn't know how long it would take to find and get an appointment with a new ophthalmologist, I decided to grin and bear it.

Flash forward a month or so to the date of the surgery. I was told to be at the out-patient surgery center of a local hospital by 11:00 AM so I could be prepped for surgery, which was scheduled for 1:00 PM. Naturally no food after the previous midnight and no fluids except what I needed to take my morning medications. And since I couldn't eat I couldn't take any ibuprofen, which is my painkiller of choice. But okay, this is standard stuff and I'm a big boy (literally). I can deal with a little pain.

What I wasn't prepared to deal with was the wait. I got to the hospital and signed in at 10:35 AM. I then sat (with the friend who escorted me--the hospital rules stated that I needed an escort because of the sedative I was to be given) for two hours in the waiting room before I was finally taken back to a room to begin pre-op. After changing into a hospital gown (you know, the ones that flap in the back), I lay down on a gurney at around 1:00PM and waited some more.

At 2:30 PM a nurse came in and began administering five different kinds of eye drops to dilate my eye. She explained that this had to be done a total of four times at fifteen minute intervals. This obviously meant a wait of at least another hour. I asked her why my surgery was so far behind schedule and she had no answer.

Finally, at a little after 4:00 PM I was taken back to the operating room and surgery began. I'll spare you the gory details except to say that you wouldn't believe how hard it is to know which direction your eye is looking in when you can't see a damn thing (my right eye was covered with a surgical drape).

Finally, at around 5:00 PM, I was wheeled out of the operating room and into a recovery room. And after about another half hour, I prevailed upon the discharge nurse to let me (and the poor woman who was escorting me) leave. Before we left, we stopped at the hospital cafeteria to get something to eat. Big mistake. Either because of the sedative I was given to keep me calm or because getting the vision back in my left eye scrambled my brains even worse than usual, any sudden movement of my head caused vertigo and an accompanying urge to toss my cookies. I got home just in time to do that and then collapse into bed.

I was supposed to go into the office the next day (Friday) for a post-op examination but I was still too sick to do that, so I called the office and after some argument, we finally agreed to re-schedule for the following Tuesday at 1:45 PM. Naturally, when I got to the office--on time, I might add--I had to wait. And wait. And wait some more. Finally, just as I was getting ready to leave at 3:30 PM, Her Highness deigned to receive me. After a few rather harsh words were exchanged, I went back to the examining room. And after another ten minutes or so and a cell phone call from someone I was supposed to meet at 3:00 PM, she examined me for five minutes, pronounced me good to go and told me to make another appointment to see her in two weeks.

The receptionist made the appointment while I sat there waiting to make a co-pay that it turned out I didn't owe (because it was a post-op visit). It was as I was waiting that I decided that I'd had enough. I didn't say anything to them at the time; given my mood and the doctor's temperment it would have degenerated into a screaming match and I wasn't up for that. But after I left the office and I was rolling home in my wheelchair I called my primary care physician (who never keeps me waiting like that) and got a recommendation for another ophthalmologist. Hopefully one who has as much respect for my time as I have for his.