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Friday, July 30, 2010

I'm Back in World Record Time

I experienced my first miracle! The miracle was not that I came through surgery with flying colors and zero complications. Indeed, for major surgery it went as smoothly as humanly possible. The miracle I refer to was the care and compassion displayed by those I met. From the moment I entered New York Hospital I was treated with the utmost respect. Everyone I met was kind, excellent at their job, and caring. The position of the employee did not matter: the person that took out the trash in my room smiled, said good morning if I was awake and appeared happy. The fourth year medical student that observed my surgery introduced himself, explained his presence and stopped by my room after surgery at least twice to say hello. The nurse that interviewed me before surgery was thorough, had a wonderful brogue, and helped arrange to send me to an older part of the hospital that had private rooms for short term stays after surgery. In so doing my close friend who was going to stay the night with me to insure I received adequate post surgical care could remain in my room. A comfortable cot appeared for her—something we did not request. All this was great but the greatest shock was the nursing care--it exceeded my wildest expectations. The ratio of patient to nurses was appropriate as in the nurses could actually do a thorough job caring for their patients. Better yet, the nurses were young, smart and dedicated. They were good at their jobs, listened to me carefully, and we worked together to be sure I had no complications. It didn’t hurt that were also very pretty and I got a chance to flirt with them!

Another important variable was that each and every question asked was directed at me and not my friend. Not once did a hospital employee make a social gaffe that people with a disability experience daily. Frankly, I am stunned by the kindness I experienced. Aside from my worries about surgery, my main concern was about what would happen to my wheelchair while in surgery. I expressed this concern repeatedly. When it came time for surgery I was escorted through a maze of hallways to the operating room. I got the name of the man who escorted me and was responsible for my chair and humorously told him if my chair disappeared I would spend the rest of my tracking him down so I could shoot him. I had no reason to worry as the surgeon himself took responsibility and took my chair to my friend. He knew it was a central concern and told me that I now had nothing to worry about except that little thing called surgery—a joke that relieved the tension I felt.

What I experienced was a marvel—something I thought was no longer present in modern medicine, humanity. I was treated like a human being about to undergo a major surgical experience. All those I met before and after surgery were kind and caring. I sincerely hope they get to read these words as they all did a great job.

So here is the bad news—my ass feels like it is on fire. The surgical scar is on the perineum and I have a JP drain as well. I cannot sit up for more than hour so my life style for the next ten days will be severely compromised. I am also assuming it will be a month before I can really sit up and not worry about my skin. This is a bit of over kill on my part but skin integrity is something I take seriously. And here I can proudly proclaim that in 32 years of paralysis I have had but two sores on my ass neither of which required hospitalization. Sometimes being paranoid about skin integrity is not such a bad thing.

I may be a self-described bad cripple but even bad cripples can report happy news. And I am indeed quite happy. Surgery went well. One and all I met were respectful, professional and compassionate. A month of ever present worry has ended. Now I look forward to managing my urological care as I once did in a mater of weeks. My ass may burning as I write these words but life has never been so sweet.


Anonymous said...


(uhm, regarding the miracle, not the fire below.)

Ruth said...

I'm so glad to hear you were treated with compassion and respect. I hope you feel much much better as soon as possible.

Greg (Accessible Hunter) said...

glad it went so well, speedy recovery!

FridaWrites said...

Glad to hear all went well. Such was my experience with my last surgery (the nurses even sent a get-well card once I was at home), and I was hoping it was with yours. Hope your discomfort eases soon and that you're able to sit up more quickly. It's hard to be still/not sit up!

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Glad you're all right, William.

I had surgery on my shoulder back in 2000. I had to tell the hospital that I have a latex allergy. I think they were kind of thrilled to have a chance to exercise their latex allergy protocol! It is cool, not to be seen as an inconvenience, even if you are.

william Peace said...

Laura, My only complaint was the excessive waste. A gown worn for 5 minutes and discarded, a IV removed and a saline solution bag 99% full discarded etc. Safety is key but some attention to waste would save a small fortune. Why even the food was good! Boy am I nitpicking!

Unknown said...

I'm glad surgery went well and that New York Hospital treated you well. I've had several good experiences at New York Cornell, so I'm glad to hear they are keeping up the good work!