Today I met with my primary care physician because neurosurgery informed me yesterday at 3:00 pm that I needed a preoperative clearance. After somehow managing to obtain an appointment this morning, I showed up early for the appointment this morning. My doctor’s staff checked with the neurosurgery staff only to find out that because of the critical nature of the surgery, a preoperative clearance is not a requirement. In other words, the need for the surgery outweighs any minor possible complication.
For inquirers, these are the specs of the surgery. Bone damage from the cancer has caused a fracture of the vertebral body. The ensuing complication is the disk is protruding into the space of the spinal canal, shunting off the canal space and fluid at the C6-C7 level. Further, it is pressing on the spinal cord. My conjecture at this point is that we are hoping that alleviating that problem will alleviate the symptoms I am having, which include the numbness in the right jaw, up through the lip. The other problems include some strange sensations when I turn or move my head in certain directions with random occurrences.
Today a second-year anesthesiology resident called me to ask questions and to share with me the ways they will sedate me and monitor my functions during the surgery. He was quite thorough and, a credit to modern training in medicine, very personable. Gone is the assumption that patients are delighted to have knowledgeable but rude or arrogant physicians talking at them about procedures too complicated to understand without medical training. Residents are friendlier and more professional. I really enjoy being a patient in an academic training institution because I know that the combined view from the eyes of wizened teachers of medicine and bright young wizards eager to learn and launch a career provides me with superior medical care. That gives me confidence. Sure, anyone can err. But, the advantage of old school and new school reviewing my symptoms and history suggests a better chance of finding the best solution for my care. Also, the chance of error is reduced while the chance of discovering it is increased. Old school watches over the shoulders of new school, and new school has none of the long-gone fear of questioning the old school.
Now, it’s time to take an antiseptic shower. The neurosurgery department provided me with antiseptic soap to wash with both tonight and tomorrow morning. This is a step in the way of helping to curb infections at the wound site of the surgery.
What could be better than going to surgery feeling antiseptically clean and exceptionally confident in your team. I mean, beside not needing surgery in the first place.
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