29 years without real surgery

by wonderfullyrich on April 7, 2009

On Wednesday I get things poked into my nose for two an half hours. As I said in a previous post I’m having my sinus operated on to improve the drainage and hopefully reduce the frequency and severity of the sinus infections I’ve been getting.  As I get near to the date I’ve realize that it’s a scare notion to have surgery done to you.  I’m luck in having gone nearly 30 years without a major operation (not to mention no broken bones).

It’s not a big deal. 2 1/2 hour outpatient surgery is a minor event, given it’s endoscopic, it’s a very non-invasive surgery.  It’s not like other major surgeries that happen due to trama or failure every day.  Indeed I’ve been around the hospital enough to know that this is a blip on the radar of life that is generally ignored.

Yet I’ve been bugged by several things as the surgery nears.  Most specifically that when I was called by the triage nurse to get my medical history and give me particulars on the surgery, they asked me for my history and expected me to cite things in medical terminology.  If I did that, speaking as an IT guy, then I’d have a rude user on the whom wouldn’t like me very much and would become something of a hostile witness (to borrow a term), which would probably end up not fixing the computer. How disturbing is it that someone who is can hold key knowledge about your medical survival can be compared to the stereotypical IT guy with a god complex?

I’m scared out of my wits at the similarities.  I know I make mistakes, IT isn’t perfectly refined, but the risk I have can be mitigated far easier then a doctor or nurse.  It’s forced me to come face to face with the flaws of our medical system, as much because I’ve been an IT guy dealing with medical care (radiologist), working with doctors, facilitating decisions on patients lives.

What’s more aggravating is that George Washington University Hospital (where I”m having the surgery) is connected with George Washington Medical Facility Associates aka GW Docs (where my surgeon/doctor is) and yet their IT systems and medical records don’t talk to each other even though they are across the street and cross building regularly. While I’ve been in DC, GW Docs is the only place I’ve seen physicians, so they couldn’t really ask for a clearer history. (ARRRGH!  Let me in there with a couple of cables and a team of IT guys and…)

All of this is a way of saying, when it comes time for medical reform–which you will hopefully see this year–call your representatives and give them your medical horror story.  Tell them you want better medical decision making, improved and more accessible records, maybe even go so far as to say a single payer system (which would improve care and save money, beyond a doubt).

I have another 60 years to live most likely, so this is likely the first stop in a long line of hospital visits for me.  I want a system and people I can rely on.  One that I believe is likely to make good decisions about my medical care, ones that are wholistic and are looking out for my longterm best interest in happiness, health, and mobility.  Money is an object here too, as I am tired of getting ripped off by corporate money makers who want 20% or more of my surgical bill so they can become another one of the 1% who don’t even pay their taxes.  I want physican, researchers, and staff who want to innovate, improve the process, and believe in the system, because in the end, it’s the people who really make medical care work.

It is possible to do this, and we can achieve this, but not by listening to the people who already have the money.  We’ll do this by listening to you.

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