Shea’s Lounge: My year in medical muddle

November 9, 2012
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This edition of long-absent Shea’s Lounge could be called Shea’s Gurney. (Hey, 2012, glad to be here.)

Edward Ericson Jr.’s review a while back of Unaccountable by Dr. Marty Makary, asks honesty and humanity of hospitals and doctors. My experience was with a large local hospital where I had thyroid removal surgery last June. In the year lead-up to surgery appointments were difficult to make because of communication problems with entry-level hospital personnel.

Several procedures — ultrasounds, Cat scans, MRIs — were performed during this year. As Dr. Makary asks in Unaccountable, were the procedures always necessary, and were they needlessly expensive? Doctors showing lack of concern about costs to patients was a recurring theme for me.

Finally, in May, a surgical doctor met with me for a half-hour of light explaining. His order: Take the surgery or leave it. I took it but was uninformed that my urinary system might be (and was) knocked
out by drugs used during surgery. “Don’t ask, don’t piss” were the
military-like orders. Result: three-and-a-half months with a catheter.
And, the anesthesiologist, whose surgery drugs may have caused the
harm, collects one-seventh of my income for a year.
My discharge papers specified Flomax prescription to help urine flow.
Thus, I would uselessly take Flomax while catherized, at $110 for 30
pills.

My prolonged medical experience had its heroes and villains. The good
doctors I encountered were in communication with peers in other
departments (i.e., surgery with nuclear medicine). Sympathy to
patients, as Dr. Makary notes, is an important attribute.

I’m healthier now than in some time, although medical expenses have
pretty much emptied my cardboard wallet. Guess the cold months will be
spent reading Metro Times‘ complimentary review books.

 Dennis Shea is Metro Times’ longtime proof reader.