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Well, Kathy, all I can say is, I can relate. Recent events required me to recite my full name and date of birth so often and for so many people, for the first time in my life I actually considered getting a tattoo with that information.

It's all part of the process, that's all....

Peach Blossom

I don't have a Pre-Op Polka story, but I must say that I hate doctor's offices, and have what I will call "The Death Certificate Tango".
In my line of work (funeral) I deal with doctors offices almost everyday. 80% of the death certificates we have signed go smoothly, no problems.

The other 20%:
1. a certain doctor who only sees patients and signs D.C.'s on Friday from 8:30 am to 10:45 am (the rest of the week he meanders from nursing home, to clinic, to some kind of government office, to who knows where)
2. the "That was not our patient" doctor, who then refers you to another doctor (even though the family told us they should be the one to sign it). Most times, the second doctor says the same thing, and refers us back to the first. Finally, someone takes pity on me and signs the form.
3. And finally, the "Doctor's Office That Doesn't Answer the Phone". These ones annoy me the most. I recently spent two days trying to get someone to answer the phone at a local doctor's office. Why can't the nurse or receptionist pick it up? I understand you are busy, so am I, but when I try four or five different times during the day, surely someone can answer.

Anyways, I hope your surgery goes smoothly tomorrow and I will be thinking of you and praying for you.

Pastor Suz

I talked with the surgeon I live with and he confirmed that your experience was fairly typical. He defended it and you can fight with him, but what I got out of it is that redundancy is built into the pre-op system. In other words, there's a lot of repetition required and five different people will ask you the very same question right up until the time they wheel you into the OR and the surgeon yells, "Action!" Or "Play ball!" if she's into sports. He says you should be grateful for redundant systems, although they are highly annoying. If it's annoying answering the same question five times, imagine what he goes through having to ask the same questions every day of patients not nearly so funny as you are. I liked the monks and stone tablet cracks.

Just make sure they mark the correct boob for the surgeon.

I suggest more tequila and maybe some leftover cake and a long nap for you this afternoon as I suspect you'll be up all night.

Meanwhile, I'm gonna got my boobies squished in your honor this afternoon and keep the prayers going for you as I do.

Maryann Mercer

I am now including your entire surgical team in my prayers along with my request that all goes well tomorrow for you. Should something go amiss I fear the wrath of pre-Frodo Sauron will fall upon their heads. And Eowyn would be right behind. I know these people must get tired of repetitive question-asking but the Eowyn thing is scary. I don't think the Pittsburgh DMV has her on file and no one else would be able to take you home! Been through the polka thing only once.My last surgery was a while ago, and I actually answered all those questions in person---three times for three different people.
However, I DO get tired of being asked which medications I take by the very doctor who saw me two weeks ago and KNOWS what he prescribed. I've been finding the PA's and Techs much more willing to listen, so I'm shopping for a new doctor AND a new rheumatologist. But I digress. Because all WILL go well tomorrow, treasure the fact you should not have to dance the dance for a very long time (never, maybe?), and send candy to that poor woman who probably feels invisible. Prayers and good thoughts for you tomorrow and yes, make sure they mark the correct boob!

Alan P.

Sharing health care system stupidity with my TLC friends while waiting for Elaine's radio show to start. Great day.

One day, Princess one slipped on a piece of playground equipment. Mommy and Daddy decide the cut lip might need a stitch or two so off to the Pediatric ER. Since Mommy works for a health care company, we know all of the hoops and try to follow them. Hoop 1, pre-authorization. Hoop 1A, Only managers can view other employees information. So as soon as someone answers the phone, Mommy says "I am a Mercy employee, your system will not allow you to see my records, I need your supervisor." After discovering that Mommy was right, the nurse/phone answerer is not authorized, we need the manager.

In the mean time, Daddy, a professional driver with a crying, bleeding child, is driving to the ER. Mommy is answering questions.

"Is the tooth broken?"
"I don't know. We are in the car."
"Can you look?"
"No. We are in the car driving to the ER. She is in the back seat."
"You shouldn't be on the phone while driving."
"My husband is driving."
"Can you look?"
"No the car is moving."
"Can you pull over?"
"No. We are on the highway. The next place to stop is literally the ER parking lot."
This last exchange repeats about three times. We are now at the light in front of the ER.
Mommy - "Can't we go to the rest of the questions? I don't know if her tooth is broken or not?"
"No." I suggested she just say yes. I am an positive end result kind of person. Mommy, not so much.

We did finally finish with the pre-authorization while parked at the ER. Princess One has a scar that was glued together that afternoon.

You know that thing that starts these conversation that says "This call may be recorded..." The person tasked with reviewing all of those calls was on the third floor of the Mercy building. Mommy's office was on four. The training manual was changed by Tuesday.


Inexcusable. Kathy, after you're done with this, Obama should hire you to completely revamp the health-care system for normalcy.

Like my friend, Trish, used to begin every one of these stories, "Because I know how to have a good time...."

PS - My grandmother took the bus to her hysterectomy for uterine cancer when she was 43. Before she died at 106 + 11 months, we had to remind her she went thru it...

Elaine Viets

Yeah, Kathy, I've been there. I showed up at 6 AM for a hip surgery scheduled at 3 PM, like I was told. I'd also fasted, like I was told. And then they kept me in a meat locker and since I was freezing and dehydrated, they had trouble getting blood out of my cold freezing veins for one last test.
When I came out of the (successful) surgery, the nurse said, "How could you have called nice Dr. Leone a bastard?"
I was under anesthesia and had no memory of cussing at the doctor -- but I was glad I did.
You've turned your trial into a hilarious blog.

Nancy Martin

Mostly, they keep asking the same questions so they're sure they have the right person and you're in your right mind. I had a procedure last week that I won't mention (except to say that the day before you have to drink a hideous swill, so those of you over 50 get my drift) and I kept answering the same questions right up until they pushed to Propophol (my new drug of choice! You wake up so happy!) because in the position I was in, I didn't want anyone to get the procedure wrong, lemme tell you.

BTW, a woman from the office of the nursing home where my aunt is staying (after a fall) telephone me to get my authorization for my aunt to take one of her meds. She'd been there 2 weeks, and they're finally asking permission? And.....why me?? I was first on her "contact list," so they had to ask me. "Can't she answer the question herself?" I asked. "We need permission from a family contact." I said, "Isn't this a Hippa violation?" That's when she hung up on me. She called back later to say, "I walked over to your aunt's room." Which was ACROSS THE HALL FROM HER OFFICE. She said, "I looked at her door name tag. If I had realized she was a doctor, I'd never have called you." I decided not to point out that my aunt was a child psychologist, not an MD. I wish I had a PhD, because I'd put "Dr" in front of my name, since it apparently gets you first class treatment. Kathy, aren't you a JD? You could put Dr on your door tag. Just saying.


I will be praying for you, everything will go well


My pain doctor doesn't have an office separate from the surgery center where he is also an anesthesiologist. Not once have I been scheduled for anything but a consultation and yet I have to go through the same hoops every time I've had an appointment (forms to fill out, questions to answer, signing my names 50 zillion times, etc.).

Miss Peach Blossom has blocked from her memory all the questions and rigamarole she went through when she had an ablation procedure for her SVT at age 18.

We're praying for you. Hoping all goes well tomorrow.

Kathy Reschini Sweeney

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I do not feel alone in my irritated confusion!

When my Dad had elbow surgery, I thought it was funny that they actually wrote on the elbow in question - since it was clearly broken and the other one was fine. I now realize there is nothing funny about it.

I don't have to show up until 11 and they won't start the pre-op procedure until noon, but I still have to fast starting at midnight. This makes no sense to me, since a 6 am procedure also requires fasting starting at midnight. Is it that they think we are idiots and can only remember midnight? Or do they just not want to have to count backwards on the little hand of the clock.

I will say it again, and not for the last time: it is a damn miracle there aren't more surgically-related assaults.

Kathy Reschini Sweeney

P.S. One of my first grad school classes bought me scrubs that say:

M. K. Sweeney, J.D.

I might have to start wearing them to all my appointments.


Kathy, we will keep the prayer wheels greased on their axles and spinning merrily for you.

Your experiences are an echo to those of our friend Kathleen Bartholomew - and Kate knew the hospital system well, after her work in health care and her chases on behalf of her sister, Kage Baker:

I am hoping you'll have none of the drama, but all the laughs, described by Kate this last month. And aquaria - aquaria would be a nice bonus.

Pam aka SisterZip

Mark the correct boob and pray for the best!

It is annoying, but because of HPPA and other regulations, they have to go through each form, seperately. I thought I was being smart and put my drug list and other things I always need on a zip dirve...no one would use it because they were afraid of viruses. Sigh.

Praying for you tomorrow!

Laura (in PA)

Oh, my dear sweet Jesus. "We are not online here." Seriously???

Deep breath.

I'm praying for tomorrow to go quickly, well, and without incident. And that the bus driver arrives to pick you up on time. Can't wait to hear the stories when it's done!


Kathy, mark the correct boob with a sharpie or draw picures or mark arrows . . . I hope it all goes smoothly with a cessation of irritation.

My dad died of melanoma, one of his first appointments with the oncology department in Vancouver was interesting. At that time there was no cancer treatments done on Vancouver Island so he had to come to Vancouver, a 20 minute drive, an hour & forty minute ferry ride, a 45 minute drive - I pick him up and take him to the appointment, the very serious Dr. asks 3 or 4 questions, looks at my dad's chart and says there is been a mistake, I don't treat this kind of cancer, can you come back next week. I believe I raised my voice at that point. My dad was a very gentle man and was not going to stand up for himself. He did do some chemo and decided he didn't like it, he was terminal anyways and told them to screw off. He stopped being quite so gentle after that.

Geez, I can go online and check my own medical records here in BC! Not online, what the hell?

Lora in Florida

Kathy, I had a mastectomy last year. Even though I know my doctor personally (we met when I hit her car but that's another funny story in itself) AND her son goes to school with my kids, AND we go to the same church, I STILL MARKED MY BOOB in black sharpie.

My mom is a nurse, and even though she knows medicine, she STILL received the wrong meds before an operation. She says she never lets them put medicine in her anymore until they have asked her to give them all the right information. Let them do their in-triplicate-stuff because ya just never know. Better safe than sorry.

And I will be sending prayer beams your way. Amazing how such a small part of your body can be such a health wrecker, isn't it?

Diana in STL

It is crazy and believe me I know they don't always listen. When I was being prepped for tendon reconstruction surgery on my left ankle the tech went through the allergy list. When she got to Betadine I said yes to being allergic. She then proceeded to prep my ankle and leg area with Betadine then stopped, gasped and said "did you say yes to allergic to Betadine". When I confirmed she immediately started cleaning it off and then had to go get the alternative solution. Thankfully she got it off before it did anything (I break out in hives) because I was in a cast for 12 weeks. And yes they did mark the appropriate body part before the surgery.

Positive thoughts and keep them laughing.

Peg Drayden

Some years ago, after I was plopped on the operating table, and while being strapped in so I wouldn't flop off the table like an oversized tuna and while everyone talked in hushed, professional tones, I suddenly pulled the mask off my face and yelled, "Hey! This is boring! I've got a better idea! Let's just forget this and go out for beer and pizza. I'm buying!" -- Still had the surgery, but the last thing I remember was all the laughter.

Marianne Z

Kathy, So glad that you have a sense of humor, you're gonna need it. Hope it's ok for me to share this with a relative recently diagnosed and going thru first round of chemo. Thanks for sharing your journey thru the medical maze!

Deb Romano

I don't have any pre-op stories,but I have always been puzzled about something that happened the day after my first spinal fusion surgery. (The reason I needed a second spinal fusion surgery is a whole other story. The short version is that the surgeon told me "you have some screws loose".) The "main" surgeon was assisted by a surgeon from another practice. The day after the surgery a PA claiming to be from Dr #2's office came to my room, asked me how I felt(stupid question -like my torso was ripped off from the rest of my body),started taking my pulse,and asked me if I was having symptoms of a heart attack! Then he started listing all the symptoms. Huh? To this day I have NO idea why he asked this.

Elaine A. Judge

My dance card is full for myself with mucho pre-ops.

My parents pre-ops with me being in charge each time were more like tangos and flamenco dances. I would have to go back into therapy if I remembered all of them.

We will be there in spirit tomorrow. Love ya.

By the way, where is the Gateway Clipper ring?

Lee Farb

Good luck Kathy. We'll be praying for you.

mary lynn

Oh, Kathy, I so sympathize. and will be casting spells with the godesses for all going well for you.

Just today we scheduled the tenth surgery of my lifetime (counting babies). You can't predict when the follies will occur--pre-op, during op, or post-op--but rest assured that the follies will occur.

Ususally they only occur in one phase, not all three. I hope that holds true for you.

Meryl Neiman

Good luck Kathy! I"ll be thinking of you. I have cataract surgery tomorrow so maybe we will cross paths!

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