Just before the holidays I had surgery. December 20th to be exact. It was for hydrosalpinx (fluid in the fallopian tube) and an oophorectomy (ovary removal). I had the left fallopian tube and left ovary removed. I was able to keep my right ovary; I’d already had my uterus removed 19 years ago and my right fallopian tube around 19 years ago before my uterus was removed. Despite the length of time between removals, it kinda feels like I have things taken out piece-meal and I was just relieved to have the surgery at this point, spending most of October, November and December in quite a lot of pain. Had I been able to, I would have had it done sooner, but being the end of the year, me like everyone else was trying to get their surgery done for insurance purposes. But this shouldn’t be a problem. Your surgery shouldn’t end up being like a booked-up flight and you shouldn’t be treated like you’re just another passenger. Because you’re not; you’re important and unique and this is your body.
I must prelude by saying that I’ve had many surgeries in my life. Enough where I can distinguish good from bad and in between. My honest opinion is that this fell somewhere in between. The problem wasn’t with my surgery itself. That went off without a hitch, but several issues afterwards that left us scratching out heads.
First things first, pain management. Big surprise there, however there was a valid reason (as far as I know), the meds they were giving me were opiates which are central nervous system depressants that can lower blood pressure. This can also make the person drowsy, while irritating the opioid receptors which block pain and suppress the cardiovascular system. Causes of Low Blood Pressure with Opiates But, and it’s a very big but, the medicine they chose to send me home with (which I only found out after picking it up at the pharmacy), was the same medication I have been taking for almost five years now. This understandably left me extremely upset and as soon as I was able to, I was on the phone calling my doctor- the one who performed the surgery, to find out if there had been an error. Mind you, this was already Saturday morning, so I had to speak to the answering service which put me in touch with the on-call doctor. By-the-way, this taught me an important lesson: on call doctors cannot call in opioids because those have to be written on triplicate. I don’t know if this is just a Texas thing because I’m not well versed in opioid laws from state-to-state, but I was told my appointment would have to wait until Monday and I would have to show up to the office and wait to be seen. So, I did, which wasn’t actually too bad. It was the next part that seemed convoluted and confusing.
-  Wood-Moen, R. (2017). Healthfully. [online] Healthfully. Available at: https://healthfully.com/135531-causes-low-blood-pressure-with-opiates.html [Accessed 3 Jan. 2020]. **
My ob-gyn sees me, checks my incisions and asks me about the pain and explains to me that she can’t actually do anything about it. That I have to call my pain management doctor and speak to him to change the medication because she can’t prescribe anything stronger than the hydrocodone that she already prescribed. It seemed strange to me but she is the surgeon, and if she said that is how it is why would I argue? I leave the doctor’s office and while I am in the car driving home, I am calling the pain management doctor. This is all feeling very repetitious by now. Same story told over and over again. There aren’t any appointments but I am on stand-by in case there is a cancellation and that evening I called. There is a cancellation for 9:45 on Christmas Eve and I am there, hoping to be heard, hoping that my pain will end.
It seemed like there was a lot of confusion about who was responsible for my medication. It seems to me a lot could have been cleared up if one doctor would have spoken to the other instead of just passing off information through me, “Not it!” Because here I am, patient in pain, left without pain meds, with two doctors throwing hands up in the air saying they’re not responsible. Finally, however, my pain management doctor came through for me. But he made it clear that this was something that should have been taken care of by my ob-gyn. Maybe before surgery (weeks before), but at least after my surgery, which it wasn’t. My last pain management doctor was a bit of a dictator with medicine and never let any doctor touch my prescriptions. Not a surgeon, not a doctor, not a dentist. Never having been to another pain management doctor I thought every other was the same. So, I learned something new. But, I had seen my pain doctor before my surgery and figured it would have been touched on if important. Maybe something like, “Have your doctor call me about your pain meds. It’s important because regular meds won’t work on you being a chronic pain patient.” This would have been much better instead of Send Liza home with hydrocodone, which I’ve been taking for nearly 5 years, which works just as well as M&M’s. The worst part, worse than the pain, was being tossed back and forth like a ping-pong ball by the doctors who didn’t want to just talk to one another and instead, held me responsible and held off on help and medicine while it was sorted out. I get life isn’t fair, but that truly sucks and is not my fault. Both are my doctors and I don’t know the in’s and out’s of liability with medicine as it pertains to a physician and patient and I came from a different experience with another doctor and I feel I should have been forewarned prior to my surgery and if not then, when things began to snowball it should have been one of you who called the other to snip this before it became what it was: a pain to me. This caused me not only pain but distress.
The other part of this experience that didn’t go well was when I was about ready to go home. My husband, on instruction from the nurse, took my bag and my cane that I use for stability to walk. I was pretty out of it from anesthesia when the orderly came with the wheelchair to my room to get me. The man asked the nurse, “Can she walk?” The nurse responded, “Yes, she can.” I was thinking to myself, “No, the patient actually can’t and the orderly never thought to bring the wheelchair completely into the room, by the bed.” But I didn’t say this out loud. Why? I don’t know. I was stuck in my head trying not to be groggy. Because I’m nice? That’s probably the closest to right. A combination of both? Yes. I really didn’t want to fall on my face right after surgery and I was in pain trying to deal with that too. But I managed. I was truly flabbergasted that I had to walk to the wheelchair by myself, that no one even offered assistance and so much so when I was finally deposited into the car, I didn’t say anything to my husband because he would have turned around and gone back in to raise hell. Instead, when I was lucid and calm and received the review for my stay at the hospital, where it asked to explain about other (because the whole of my experience was excellent) I explained about the incident. In two days, I received a phone call, an apology that it was not protocol and that it would be brought up to the director of the hospital. They did not want this to happen again to any other guest and were very sorry. That was all I needed. So, speak up. Ideally when you’re there. No need to be quiet, be uncomfortable, in pain or put yourself in un-needed jeopardy. But if you do decide that you want to wait, make it short, sweet and right to the point. No drama llama. You end up getting a lot more feedback and people are willing to do a lot more for you. Just don’t say nothing at all. You are important. And doctors, staff and the hospitals need to know when you aren’t being treated correctly.
** Edited 1.3.2020