U.S. doctors are gods ... NOT!
STORIES that document
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In 2005, at the age of 62 and in the first year of retirement, I underwent 3 surgeries and experienced a disturbing combination of
Hence I am concerned about such medical care subjects as
Some effects of
I am not a person who likes to see doctors or the insides of hospitals.
These 3 surgeries in 2005 (all 3 under general anesthesia) were my first surgeries since an office surgery I had when I was 32 (about 30 years earlier) ... and that was under local anesthesia.
I had one other surgery, under general anesthesia (ether gas, 'old school'), when I was about 8 years old, around 1950 --- a tonsillectomy-adenoidectomy.
So I had been surgery-free for about 30 years --- and I had been general-anesthesia-free for about 54 years.
I was unprepared for what I was about to experience.
One of my three 2005 surgeries was a meniscus surgery on my right-knee.
After the surgery, as my wife and I were leaving the hospital, a nurse advised that I should be putting weight on the knee as soon as possible.
That evening I was amazed how I could go up and down stairs so soon.
I thought "This arthroscopic surgery is amazing".
But then, a day later, the local anesthesia in the knee (I later found out it was morphine) wore off.
OWWWWW! I had many, many months of knee pain after that.
In fact, I found out that going down stairs was much more painful than going up --- because of the body weight on a bended knee.
(Going up stairs, it was easier to avoid bending and impacting the surgery-knee --- by stepping up with the good-knee leg and dragging the surgery leg up. There was no advice given on how to go up and down stairs relatively painlessly.)
For two-and-a-half years I had to use the handrails on stairs whenever going downstairs --- otherwise the pain in my right knee was unbearable.
That post-op nurse had given horrible post-op instructions.
(She apparently had never had knee surgery herself.)
That knee surgery was also the surgery in which the bill may have been padded.
I thought the doctor and I had an agreement that the damaged meniscus would be the only thing dealt with in the operation --- that is, he was to remove no more tissue than necessary, especially since cartilage is so difficult for the body to replace.
But when I got the surgery bill from medical insurers, I found that a 'major synovectomy' (removal of the tissue that lubricates the knee) and some cartilage 'debridement' (removal from knee surfaces) had been done.
The meniscus trimming was about $2,000 of the bill --- the 'major synovectomy' and 'debridement' was another $4,000.
Plus, other hospital charges brought the total bill for the surgery to about $18,000.
You would think that if the doctor is going to charge that much, he could at least have the nurse give proper post-op instructions so that the patient does not put weight on the operated-upon structures, before the local anesthesia wears off, and likely undo the benefits of the operation, if any.
I say 'if any benefits' because the 'debridement' and 'major synovectomy' may have done damage that outweighed any benefits of the meniscus trimming.
This experience gave me some insight into one reason U.S. medical costs are so high. In some cases, the doctor is doing more than what the patient expected.
In other words, while the patient is under anesthesia, the doctor's future bill may be in the process of being padded.
Another pair of surgery stories:
When I told my tax accountant, in 2007, of my lingering back injury after one of the surgeries in 2005, she told me of her experience.
She went in for a head surgery on blood vessels in her head --- which turned out to be a 10 hour surgery --- and came out with a serious hip injury that was plaguing her at least 2 years later --- she was seeing a chiropractor periodically for some relief.
Apparently the doctors did not have her hip supported properly while she was under general anesthesia for the 10 hours.
And, apparently, doctors and/or nurses and/or other attendants did not have my lower-back supported properly at some point during my general anesthesia for one of my three operations in 2005.
Or, the two young women, who were attending to me when I was transferred to a gurney, did not have enough help when transferring me from the gurney to the operating table --- and I may have been dropped to the floor like an anesthetized (unconscious) limp sack of potatoes and landed on my lower spine.
After that operation, I had serious, often-excruciating lower-back pains (for many years) that I did not have before the operation.
(I had left-hip pains that eventually abated after about 2 years, right-knee pains that abated after about 6 years, and the lower-back pains were still with me 7 years later.)
After the surgical injuries that I received under general anesthesia (in 2005) --- from doctors or nurses or attendants (the doctor would not 'fess up' to any surgery room accidents when I asked about the new back pain after the surgery) --- I would advise anyone to have local anesthesia --- RATHER THAN general anesthesia --- whenever possible.
If you have general anesthesia, have a close relative or friend watching the surgery, through a surgery room window, or whatever viewing-situation that can be arranged.
In other words, if you MUST have general anesthesia, then have a vocal patient advocate (spouse, parent, whatever) present at the hospital ... preferably viewing the operating room rather than waiting outside.
In any case, have an advocate in the hospital near the surgery area.
It might encourage nurses and attendants to be careful when moving a patient from a gurney to the operating table, for example.
In fact, don't be shy about asking attendants to take special care in transfers from and to the gurney.
Years later (pain):
Several years after 2005, I was still suffering daily-and-hourly from the back injury incurred from one of the three 2005 surgeries.
Admittedly, I may have had some back abnormalities before surgery (as many people do), but I should not have had additional, intense, chronic pain after the surgery.
Because of experiences with doctors (like the surgical experiences reported above), every time I see the phrase
"consult your doctor before doing exercise-X"
"consult your doctor before using diet-X"
"ask your doctor if drug-X is right for you"
in just about any article or advertisement about exercise or diet or medical chemicals --- I am reminded of the expensive, yet damaging, "care" that I have received from the U.S. medical system.
Those admonishments to consult your doctor seem to assume that your doctor knows your condition as if you were visiting his/her office on a weekly or daily basis.
Most doctors are so busy seeing patients that, in order to remind themselves of your health conditions, they need to review their records on you before seeing you.
So I tend to cringe when I see all these "ask your doctor if X is OK for you" warnings.
Most doctors have so many patients they cannot remember what your particular health issues are.
Before you "ask your doctor if X is OK for you", you are probably going to have to recount to him/her many of the details of your case --- or he/she is going to have to spend some time reviewing the records he/she has for you.
Special care before surgeries
Before knee surgeries, doctors have to mark which knee to operate on, according to their records or according to your response to a question just before surgery.
There have been horrible cases of doctors operating on the wrong appendage --- because they were NOT initimately familiar with the health issues of their patient.
In many cases, the patient is most likely the best source of information like this --- based on pains they feel in their body.
Before a surgery, do not feel shy about reminding the doctor about which appendage he/she is to be operating on --- and what 'agreements' the two of you have about what is to be done.
Encourage the doctor to bias any 'on the fly' decisions (that he/she has to make during the operation) toward the 'agreements' you have with him/her.
Start of the stories
In any case, because of my history of pains --- some of them new pains after surgeries --- I am motivated to collect the following stories to document the sad state of U.S. medi$$$ine.
In particular, people should know:
"let the patient beware"
"let the patient be aware".
In addition to the stories presented here, there is a list of books below that provide more stories like these.
Here is one person's experience with the sleep drug Ambien, and with some U.S. doctors:
"Ambien gave me a great night's sleep after years of wakefulness. The cost [i.e. drawback] was disabling digestive problems: bloating, pain, and acid reflux.
After a year of pain, more than $20,000 in uncomfortable testing and drugs for reflux, I took myself off Ambien. Two doctors had insisted that my digestive woes were not related to Ambien, but after three nights of sleeplessness, the digestive problems went away."
"After 10 years of being diagnosed repeatedly with diverticulitis and treated with antibiotics, my digestive system went crazy, and I lost bowel control.
More antibiotics and prednisone were prescribed. One doctor wanted to do surgery, perhaps a colostomy, on my bowel.
I sought a second opinion and the doctor prescribed probiotics (VSL No. 3). A week later I was fine. After four years, I have no more diverticulitis and my system works fine. No diarrhea."
I plan to add more stories here.
There are a million stories out there, in the U.S. alone.
In case I do not get back to this page for a long time, you can try WEB SEARCHES on keywords such as:
Some books with more 'learn-from-these' U.S. stories on drugs and surgery :
The number of times doctors
attribute a patient's pain
to 'stress' is troubling.
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Page was created 2007 Apr 26.