On Monday a very nice surgeon cut into my ankle, shaved a portion of my fibula, put two pins in the bone, sewed me up and wrapped my lower leg in a comfy if not inflexible cast. I needed this surgery and was paying him to do this (or, my health insurance was) and I was asleep at the time, otherwise, you know, I might not think him so nice.
My surgery took place at Methodist Hospital, where apparently a prerequesite for working there is that you be nice, very nice. Nice in personality and demeanor, nice in smile and nice in touch, nice in tone of voice and nice in gentle humor. Where in the world did all these nice people come from and how in the heck did they all manage to convene in the same place at the same time? I have no idea but on Monday, that question was very much at the front of my mind.
From the minute I arrived at Methodist, the experience was so foreign that I thought I was high or being Punkd. Mr. Valet Man? Good morning! I hope you have a great day. It was five minutes before seven in the morning and this guy was all smiles and this way to the elevator. The woman who signed me in at the surgery center? She had a beautiful smile and didn't hesitate to share it. Her face was kind, her voice warm and her sense of humor reassuring. And was she ever helpful. I know it's her job to be helpful, to explain to me and to my friend what was going to take place over the course of the morning, what my friend could expect as far as wait time, whether the surgeon would come speak to her after the surgery, but it's the way that she did so, with a smile on her face and shine in her eyes. She explained to my friend the best time to get coffee or a meal, and gave her directions to the best spot to do so. And all the while, she was so friendly, it was as if she were inviting us to make ourselves at home in her living room while she made us some fresh lemonade. A gracious hostess, that's what she was.
She was so nice in fact that I refrained from killing her when she told me that the surgeon would come out and talk to my daughter while I was in recovery. My daughter?
When she walked me and my not-daughter-but-friend to the pre-surgery area, another woman was there to greet us. She too explained what was going to happen from that point forward, and then asked me things like, Do you have any questions? or Do you need to use the restroom? She looked at my not-friend-but-daughter and asked her if she's like some coffee. After I changed into my gown, she took my vital signs, someone else showed up, smiled and gently put EKG monitors on my back, and someone showed up, smiled, and put a cuff on the leg not having surgery. Still someone else showed up to put my IV in, and when I tensed up and she had to try another time, she apologized to me. She patted my arm, told me to breathe, apologized again. My not-daughter-but-friend put her fingers through my hair, also told me to breathe, and before I knew it, the IV was in, painlessly. The nurse apologized again as she was leaving. My not-daughter-but-friend and I looked at each other, eyes wide and shaking our heads, What IS it with these people? They are SO nice.
There was more niceness, the anesthesiologist, the operating room nurse, the surgeon, all came to speak with me, asked questions, answered questions, joked around a bit, and then right at the scheduled time, they wheeled me into the operating room and before I knew it I was told that I'm being given a sedative and well, I remember feeling extremely relaxed and then... nothing.
The anesthesia recovery took longer than expected because there's something in me that doesn't make that ride a smooth one, something that makes me feel small and confused. Luckily, Jackie was my nurse and during the three hourse we spent together, she was so lovely and caring that I'm surprised I didn't ask her to marry me. Jackie's voice was tender as she gently coaxed me from that dark side of anesthesia, gently spoke to me to awaken me. She asked about the pain, I told her about the pain, OH MY GOSH, THE PAIN. She put a shot of something in the IV tube and goodnight. This went on for a while. Ice Chips? Jackie spoon fed them to me, moving one hand through my hair to keep me in a calm state. You're doing just fine, baby, I'm taking care of you. You just rest. Another shot in the IV. Sleep. I asked about my not-daughter-but-friend and before I knew it, there she was. She and Jackie chatting away like two old friends. A woman showed up and gave my not-daughter-but-friend a list of instructions and some prescriptions. Do you want me to go have them filled for you here? I'd be happy to do that. We said yes and then thought maybe that was a bad idea. This was going to take forever. In ten minutes, she was back. All smiles and more of that niceness. Jackie called for valet, I was wheeled to the elevators and when the doors opened on the ground floor, there was my car, passenger side door open, Mr. Valet Man all smiles and hope you feel better real soon.
Is there such thing as a five star surgery center? Is there something similar to a Zagat or Michelin guide out there that rates surgery centers? I'm not sure but I do know that I am mailing a revised version of this post to the center and to my surgeon. The experience was that good, the people that nice. Was it Methodist Hospital or The Inn & Spa at Methodist? Did I go in for surgery or a completly self-indulgent spa treatment? I'm not sure, not at all sure.