College hoops weekend; this blog will return Tuesday.
For the first 39 years of my life I had been in a hospital (not counting visiting friends or relatives) a total of two times - birth and at five years old to have my tonsils out. The next quarter century saw me in hospital beds on ten occasions - some were more serious than others but the general rule of thumb has been each new surgery has been tougher to come back from than the previous one. Until last Tuesday.
For 2-3 months my right knee had been bothering me, worse and worse as the days would go by. X-rays were no help and injections were of only temporary relief, so I finally got an MRI. I went to my doctor to find out the results two weeks ago. It showed a significant tear of my meniscus. Although the doc said my knee was a mess, he told me it would be easy to fix. Arthroscopic surgery would do the trick. Three pinholes, a little therapy and I’d be back on my feet in virtually no time - not at all the experience college athletes I knew in the late 1960s had, i.e. the long “zipper” scar that currently identify athletes from that era, followed by grueling rehab.
“Great news,” I told him. “Can I get it done right away?” He assured me that wouldn’t be a problem, any of the orthopedic surgeons could easily fix it and that the lady from scheduling would give me a call the following day. Sure enough, the phone rang (two weeks ago today). When I answered, the lady said she was calling about setting up a doctor “consult” with me, something that needed to be done prior to the surgery. Since I’m a veteran of many surgeries, I’ve been involved with just as many consult meetings. Suffice to say it’s a slick move to bill the insurance company for another visit. Note: A few years back I had one such appointment and the surgeon didn’t even bother to show up. Rather his PA did. Now, I have no issues with assistants as I was one for 30 years and took pride in my ability to help solve problems, albeit it in another field. However, in this instance the PA basically came in, asked me if I knew what surgery was to be performed on me, asked if I had any questions and, when I said no, told me they’d see me the day of the surgery.
Back to the phone call. I told the scheduler my doc said I could get this done immediately, as it wasn’t a difficult, nor long (15-20 minutes) surgery and I was OK with any of the orthopedic surgeons. She said, “I can get you in on February 27th.” I was somewhat taken back when I heard my “consult” was nearly a month away - but I recovered. At least my cynicism did.
“Of what year?” She either didn’t get my attempt or didn’t care as she simply told me that the meeting was to take place this year. I told her my doctor said I should have been able to be worked in much sooner. She said she was sorry but the 27th was the earliest I could be seen - for a consult. After relating this story to a couple friends of mine, they both recommended their surgeon, a guy I’d heard about from several other colleagues in the past. One of my friends was going to see that doctor’s PA for a procedure he was having done and said he’d relay my info. I spoke with him later that day and he informed me that I should call the next day.
To make a long story short (I know, too late), I called, they got me in for a consult - with the actual surgeon - last Saturday and I got scoped on Tuesday. Unlike the other surgeries - laminectomies, implanting devices (or removing them), whatever - I was an outpatient this time. And, happily, unlike the others, I have no pain, am walking with no limp and have only my back issues with which to deal. I’m even driving to Monterey today.
Thankfully for me, the other surgeon’s office believed in the adage:
“We will find a way where there is no way.”
Please don’t think I really believe they moved heaven and earth to get me in but the orthopedic center I usually go with could have gotten me in had they had a better line of communication - or a scheduler who had sharper listening skills. When someone is in pain, try putting yourself in their position, rather than reading charts and having an inflated opinion of your value.
As was posted yesterday, I got my knee scoped last Tuesday.