The appointment was for 9 am and I naively thought I would just have to fill out a few forms and that would be it. If only it was that simple. This is the Public Health system.
12:30 I finally got to walk out.
First I met Susan. My initial thought when I met her was that she was an administration assistant employed under one of those "special" employment schemes. (OK I warned you at the beginning that political correctness would not always be present). She took my forms and told me to take a seat in the waiting room.
After about 10 mins she called me in and then introduced herself as the nurse who would do my pre-admission. I was a little shocked. She was very friendly and honestly I thought a bit "simple."
When she asked me what I did and I told her that I worked for a major cancer charity she then seemed to think that this gave her permission to share her entire life story. (confirming my suspicions)
Susan I did not really need to know that your dad died from cancer two years ago and that he was a retired school principle who still acted as though he was one and that you had 4 siblings and that you had always lived at home and that you nursed him because he didn't want to be in hospital and that you came to work one day in tears and everyone thought that he had died because they all knew about what was happening but you were just upset and that he refused to accept that he was dying and kept telling your mum that he was going to get up and walk and that she had to remind him that he was in fact bedridden and that he was 88 when he was diagnosed but you really think he knew he had cancer for a while but chose to ignore it and you think he finally saw you as a nurse and allowed you to nurse him.
Thank you for sharing that but here's the thing I think my pre- admission interview was actually supposed to be about me and my story.
Once I had finished with that little interview - where she did manage to weigh me, take my blood pressure and fill out some forms, in between her story telling, I then went back into the waiting room to wait to see the pharmacist, the anaesthetist, the surgical team and the financial person.
Fortunately all the rest of the staff didn't have the same need to share their life stories with me.
Next meeting was with the pharmacist who asked me about what drugs I was taking. I am currently taking a collection of complementary medications to manage my menopause and because I now have no memory I struggled to tell her exactly what was in all of them. She didn't seemed concerned.
Finished with her back out to the waiting room.
Susan then came scurrying out to tell me that she was trying to track down the anaesthetist and the other Dr but that they were held up. ( I felt bad about my initial assessment of her because she really was very helpful)
Next is the anaesthetist. Into the room again, lots more questions about my health, previous anaesthetic experiences, again what medications I was taking. This time I did manage to remember that one of the tablets had St Johns Wort in it. Just as well I did because that is apparently on the pre-operation prohibited list and I cant take any for 5 days prior to surgery. So no more of that from today.
Out from there and then Susan hands me a form for an ECG. So off I go up the stairs, along the corridor to find Christine who sticks dots on my chest and hooks me up to the machine that spits out pictures of my heart beats and tells me my heart looks fine.
Back down the corridor, down the escalator, back to the waiting room. Lucky Channel 10's "The Circle" is still on and I haven't missed the amazing wrinkle cream segment.
Finally the surgical team call me in. Again questions. What procedure am I having, any other major illness. Was a little surprised that they were surprised that I had had cancer before. Thought that one may have been noted on my file.
All the other usual questions - smoking - no; drinking- dry for past 5 weeks ( killing me), the medications question, family history, pregnancy and breastfeeding history.
I did eventually get to ask some of my own questions. Will this hurt? How many of these have you done before? What drugs will I get to have afterwards?
Ok I did actually ask some serious questions about the length of the procedure, recovery time, further treatment decisions and when I will know about these decisions.
I walked out feeling quite confident that I would be in good hands.
Back out to the waiting room and then I am called for the last interview with the lovely Denise. She is in charge of the financial paper work.
Again the question of what do I do came up. This time the result was not a life story but in fact the waiving of my $500 Health Fund hospital excess. Cant be completely sure that was the reason but think it may have had something to do with it.What a win.
I have chosen to be admitted to a Public Hospital as a privately insured patient. Denise informed that I would have no out of pocket expenses, except for my surgeons fee. I know that there are lots of things wrong with the system but for me this seems to be a pretty good deal. I am very grateful to Denise and told her so.
So after 3 and half hours of admitting lots of things, waiting quite a bit, signing lots of forms, I am sent off with a bottle of antiseptic wash to use on the day of my operation and a warm holding of my hand by Susan as she wishes me all the best for what I am about to embark on.
Next time Susan maybe just leave out the Dad story.