So. Dealing with Kaiser is such an adventure.
Sorry this is so long, but I just want to get it all out in one blast.
I already blogged about the whole ignoring my requests that they make sure I am not scheduled for the Surgery Center if they still have their BMI restrictions in place.
I already blogged about them shorting me on disinfectant wipes.
I did not blog about how the scheduler scheduled my COVID 19 test before my pre-op interview. After you get your COVID-19 test, you are supposed to quarantine – so you don’t go picking up any new Covids before your surgery. Makes sense. Except the pre-op doctor wanted me to get an EKG and blood work. Now, I’m guessing the EKG and blood work are standard – so somebody should have known that things should be set up so you can get the lab stuff done BEFORE your COVID test. Wouldn’t you think?
August 27, 2021 – show time.
I arrive at the hospital at 9:15 a.m. (15 minutes early, because that’s how I roll).
I am told to check in with the information desk. Fine. I do so. They check my name off their list – except – this is not admitting. Now, they have to walk me to admitting. Okie-doke. Let’s go for a walk. The volunteer drops me off at admitting and I get “admitted”.
I am now supposed to go to Nuclear Medicine. I am told to go back to the lobby and someone will take me there.
I know I am supposed to go to Nuclear Medicine because I have been told this in numerous phone calls and in all the printed material with which Kaiser has provided. So I walk back to the lobby, and a volunteer now walks me to Nuclear Medicine.
I check in at Nuclear Medicine. The receptionist tells me to take a seat and wait.
I sit. I wait.
Then I hear the receptionist on the telephone and I hear my name (never a good sign). It sounds like they don’t have the order for the injection I am supposed to be getting and the contact person isn’t picking up their phone. She gets some (unknown) info and hangs up.
I sit. I wait.
The receptionist gets back on the phone and I hear my name again. She hangs up. Then she tells me I am not supposed to be at Nuclear Medicine. I am supposed to go to Room 103. I ask where that is and she tells me to go back to the lobby and someone will take me.
I go back to the lobby, and me and the volunteer head for Room 103, as a continuation of my pre-operation tour of the Kaiser hospital. Turns out Room 103 is Pre-Op. Turns out that Pre-Op has a new protocol – breast cancer patients get their injection of nuclear material in pre-op, not in Nuclear Medicine. Apparently, Pre-Op is the only one who knows about this and they aren’t letting anyone else know.
How fucking handy.
I am not happy. I let them know. I also point out this is a lousy way to prep me for a surgery that could get canceled because of elevated blood pressure, since I am currently off all of my blood pressure medicine as part of my pre-op preparation.
They try to mollify me. I’m not buying it. But I’m there and let’s get on with it. I am told to strip and put on the gown (it actually fits – wonder of wonders) and their special hospital socks (they don’t fit). I take it all off and put on the proffered bits of clothing. I am told the opening goes in the back – which I point out is pretty stupid since I’m having breast surgery and usually you find those in the front; but they insist. Okay.
Then they bring in more of their handy-dandy wipes. I am told to wipe my front and they will do my legs and back. I point out (again) that this would be easier if they did it before I put on the gown. (In fact, I hear from nearby beds the whole time I’m there people doing their pre-op wipe downs, how the gown is in the way, it’s hard to do with this gown on, etc.)
Now I lay down on the bed with the toasty air bag on top and a pad under me which I quickly realizes soaks up and puts back out all of my body heat. This is lovely for a little bit but after a couple of hours I am sweating like the proverbial pig. By then, my nurse has disappeared and I finally flag down the nurse at the next bedside and explain that I am way too warm. (I have long since kicked off the warm airbag but I can’t sit up because they have the sides up on my bed, so I am on top of the really hot padding.) I am sweating enough that my hair is getting wet and sticking to my neck. The lady turns off the airbag and finds my nurse. She moves the head of the bed up so I can sit up, but she won’t lower the bed side so I am still pressed against that pad – and there is no way to cool that off. (I asked.) So all I can do is grab the sides of the bed and pull myself toward the end of the bed to get a bit of a breeze on my back.
Also. I’m bored. Bored, bored, bored.
Oh, except I wasn’t bored when the guy from Nuclear Medicine came in to give my boob a jab. Now, my surgeon had warned me that this was a painful injection (many of her patients have said it is worse than the biopsy – but my biopsy didn’t hurt at all – so I was keeping an open mind). And my cousin Alice told me the shot was extremely painful. The guy giving the shot said it would sting a bit. Guess who the liar was? Yup! That shot hurt like a mother-fucker. And it goes on – and on – it’s multiple parts. Jab – injection – injection – injection. And it keeps hurting, long after the guy has returned to Nuclear Medicine with my questions about his career choice ringing in his ears. I mean, really, giving women extremely painful injections in their boobs? Where does that start?
I have my cell phone and I can read on it, but I don’t dare do too much because my cell phone battery is terrible. (I did bring a charger, but I really didn’t want to have to deal with that.) The nurse keeps checking with me – have I talked with the surgeon yet? No. The anesthesiologist is still in surgery – that is wrapping up (and which continued to wrap up for at least 45 minutes after I was told it was wrapping up). The surgery is supposed to be at 12:15. The surgeon comes in around that time and I get to talk with her. She writes some stuff on my boob.
Finally about 12:45 here comes the anesthesiologist. And the Pre-Op manager – he wanted to hear about my problems this morning. I told the manager, I wanted to talk with the anesthesiologist, as that discussion was necessary in order to get this show on the road.
We go over anything. He had sent me a really nice e-mail on Sunday and quickly responded to the e-mail I sent asking questions. So things went very smoothly. He was using some special kind of tube that avoids your vocal cords completely. (So take note singers if you have to have general anesthesia – such a thing exists – ask for it – my throat still hurts like a bitch, but my cords seem fine.)
Finally, into the operating room. I remind them if they are taking blood pressure, they either need a thigh cuff for my fat old lady upper arm, or they need to take it on the forearm (which of course we know is not going to be as accurate). They decide to put it on my calf. LESSON LEARNED – Don’t ever let them put the blood pressure cuff on your calf. The pain is excruciating. It went through two cycles before I convinced them they HAD to take it off. They did the forearm (still broke a few blood vessels – but much preferable to the calf).
Next thing I know, I’m back in recovery. I keep dozing in and out – they keep telling me to take deep breaths. I’m trying, but I’m groggy and sleepy here and you have me flat on my back. The machine keeps going off because my oxygen levels are low because I’m unable to breathe deeply. They bring a spirometer – and I can barely get it to 500 and they say, we want you to get it to 800 – I reply, it’s good to want things – and go back to sleep.
They call Bill to come get me (probably thrilled to get rid of my fat old crabby lady ass). I have told them repeatedly, we only live 10 minutes away. I know a lot more than 10 minutes have gone by before they let me get dressed. All the usual warnings. They are sending me home with Tylenol 3, don’t sign any legal papers, rest, eat drink (by the way the dye they use during surgery will turn my pee blue for a while – they are right, it’s a lovely bright blue, especially first thing in the morning after a night of getting to concentrate).
The manager wheels me out to the car and he asks me about what happened this morning, and I let him know. I also let him know about the Surgery Center/Hospital/BMI issue; how I had it sprung on me before and it’s still a problem. Poor guy. I know that he was just trying to head off me filing an official complaint.
Anyhow, I’m home. The pain has been much less than I expected – so far. Tomorrow the first set of band aids come off. So it’s one step at a time. But the most I’ve needed so far is a couple of Ibuprofen. I should be hearing in about a week what the proposed treatment plan will be, following the molecular analysis of the lymph nodes and tumor.
And then we shall see what we shall see.