Those of us over a “certain age” know the drill for outpatient medical procedures. I say “certain age”, because hitting age fifty is the threshold. There begins the not so subtle pressure from our medical practitioners, for tests to be done. The ominous Colonoscopy and other checkups, require one to be sedated during the process and therefore deemed not capable of operating a motor vehicle. . A “designated driver” must show up when the outpatient staffers are ready to release you from their realm of responsibility.
My recent experience revealed a much scripted process that none of the nurses or staff wished to deviate from. Nor was new information accepted. No messing with their perceived normal routines was tolerated.
“Hello, this is Nurse Nelly and I am callin’ to let you know that Miz Kathy is ready to come home”. Her Eastern Seaboard accent was delightful as she drawled on.
“Who is this?” a bit sharper now, “Do you know a Kathy Passage?” Nurse Nelly paused to listen to the response on the other end of the phone line… “Oh, she’s your Mother?”
By now I am sitting up on the gurney and gesturing to her, to confirm just what number she dialed! It sounds like she has mistakenly reached my home number! Yup, the continuing conversation confirms this:
“Oh! you are Nick Baker? And Kathy is your mother?” Nurse Nelly now resumes the script, oblivious to my frantic waving and verbal request to intervene into this conversation. “Well, as I was saying… Miz Kathy is ready to be picked up from the Surgery Center.” “What! You can’t drive? Oh, you are blind.”
Finally Nurse Nelly turns around to me, quizzical look on her face, but she does respond to my gesturing and relinquishes the phone. “Hi Nick, yes, it’s Mom.”
“No honey, I am just fine. I am not sure why Nurse Nelly called our home number.”
“Yes, Hubby is going to come and get me from the Surgery Center. He is at work right now, just waiting for the call from Nurse Nelly saying that I can leave.”
“While I have you on the line, could you please tell me Hubby’s cell phone number?” I repeat back aloud the number and watch while the nurse jots this down. ( I have to share with you readers that my son knows this number by heart. He is blind and can’t see the contacts on our phone.)
It is a mystery why the Surgery Center nursing staff had not been successful locating Ray’s cell number. When I arrived several hours earlier this day, my Hubby’s cell number was noted by the admitting team and put into my chart. After asking me who would be in the waiting room, I explained that Hubby worked downtown, literally ten minutes away from the center. I assured the intake worker that he would arrive to drive me back home, as soon as he was called on his cell phone. “What was that number?” she asked, proceeding to write it on a bright blue Post-It. I actually saw this, I swear.
I was handed the skimpy gown, booties and a bright orange plastic bag in the Pre-Op area of the Surgery Center. I had to relinquish all my clothes and other worldly goods, including my Droid phone to the intake nurse and hopped up onto the gurney.
“Who is in the waiting room to take you home today?” she asked as she consulted paperwork. I went over the facts, again. “Hubby will be picking me up today. His cell phone is the phone number to call to arrange my pick up from the Surgery Center!” The nurse rifled through the folder on the table and asked me to give her Hubby’s cell number again. The bright blue Post-it was nowhere in sight.
I sighed and explained that I did not know his cell number by heart. As a special favor, the bright orange bag was returned to my curtained area. I rummaged through clothing, shoes, socks and other items and found my Droid. I waited for a seeming eternity while the sound effects played and various red designs flashed on the screen. Finally I was able to access the contacts section and read aloud Hubby’s cell phone number. The nurse noted it on the folder. She returned the orange plastic bag back to the locked storage unit where all patients’ personal belongings were secured.
A medic appeared through the curtains with the first of several treatments to ready me for my procedure. These included a shot into my IV drip, a relaxation drug that he called the “I don’t care” drops. I was fully aware during my procedure, but in a state of narcotic bliss. I truly did not care what the doctors were doing to me! As long as they kept me swaddled with those nice, soft, toasty blankets, I was happy as a clam.
Shift change happened while I was in the Operating Theater. I had a new nurse, named Nellyy. She was from Massachusetts. She brought me a large cup of water, complete with the bendy straw. I gulped it down like a lost pilgrim just entering the Oasis in the midst of the desert. This was followed by crackers, orange juice and individually wrapped Tillamook cheese slices to help me recover from the pre-operation fast. When she determined that I was sufficiently hydrated and nourished she opened the folder and dialed.
Eventually it was sorted out that Hubby was indeed coming to rescue me… but there was more to the “script” that was still running in Nurse Nelly’s head. Apparently our pickup arrangement deviated from their normal routine. “When your Hubby pulls up to the Out Patient Loading Area, designated by the white paint on the cement curb, I will deliver you, in the wheelchair and help him get you into the car.”
I reminded her, again, that I had actually driven myself to the facility and parked my car in the garage. “We’re simply going to get into the elevator and go down to parking level B.” She sternly reminded me “You are still not allowed to operate a motor vehicle!”
“No, no, I am not driving home. Hubby is driving us home.”
“Will he bring the car up to the Patient Loading Area?” Nurse Nelly was struggling to stay on script. Her hands gripped the handles of the wheel chair as she looked at me expectantly.
“Nope, I am walking out of here, under my own steam. But thanks for the offer.”
We made our escape! In the car going home, we chuckled at the tenacity of the nurse and the rest of the staff. “No one is going to get away with any deviation to their program, for sure.”
A step will be added to my next encounter with Surgery Center. I will ask them, whilst they are writing with a Sharpie on the appendage or area to be treated or investigated… to write my Hubby’s cell number on my hand!
Even fully alert and not coming out of anesthesia, I cannot remember that number!