I think. Or at least the doctors and pharmacists who have been checking me out these past few days say I’m game fit and ready for surgery.
It started with a pre-op check by my family doctor David MacNaughton. Routine stuff on blood pressure, heart, breathing. None of them as robust as when I was 19 but functioning well enough for him to pass me to the next team of experts at Victoria General.
Seemed to be a long drive out and I recalled the days when the late heart specialist Dr. Peter Banks led the fight to get Victoria’s second major hospital built on the site of the old St. Joseph’s. Planning experts from the east came to town, took a look and said the new hospital should be built out in the Helmcken area where it would be better located to service a growing western sector.
Some thought was given to the Tillicum area where a drive-in movie took up a lot of space, but in the end the planners won and Vic General is where it is and, as the Western Sector continues to grow, probably wisely so.
Anyway, there I was a few days ago rattling along the highway grumbling about the distance but happy to get there with relative ease.
Only one complaint and that about the cost of parking my car before I could find a medic of any kind. I know health costs have been spiraling ever higher for decades and that every heath care unit in the province needs to raise or save all the cash it can, wherever it can.
But I don’t think a parking lot already jammed at 8:30 in the morning with out-patients with problems, or friends visiting the hospitalized sick, is the ideal fund raiser.
We find a spot, buy two and a half hours – just guessing at time needed – and head for the main lobby and admittance desk. There’s a long queue and the first hurry-up-and-wait session looms. Then comes a friendly wave from a volunteer manning an information desk. I tell him I’m looking for pre-admittance but was told I should check in at the main desk first.
“Not so”, he said. “Straight along this corridor, right to the end. Yellow tower, elevator on your left, third floor, turn right off the elevator.”
Done and done. Check in – 20 minutes before my appointed time. And hurry-up-and-wait phase two begins. It would be easy to complain but watching other people soon demonstrates that there are quite a few with greater need than mine.
So we wait and watch people coming and going with the clock inching its way at alarming speed to meter violation time. I have passed one hurdle – a detailed conversation with a pharmacist taking notes of every prescription drug I take and warning me that should I be hospitalized for any length of time the drugs administered could have different names – “but they will be the same in content as the ones you are taking.”
The clock says 10 minutes to penalty to time. My support staff, navigator, supporter and travel companion Anne trudges off to the elevator, down to ground floor, along the long corridor, out into to an inclement cold day to feed the meter.
I wait for the next hurdle, the anesthetist. He’s a busy man with an endless flow of patients answering his questions. My turns comes for questions and answers. I’m offered two choices; general anesthetic or spinal. Opt for spinal. Understand recovery is a little easier for 90-year olds. We’ll see.
Then its off for blood tests and being attached to electronic sensors to make sure the central engine is pumping as it should. It seems to be and I’m told we’re free to head for the parking lot before the meter dings us again.
Elapsed time – little over four hours. And, apart from the parking, super efficient
The ride home seems shorter than the ride out. Hope I have the same feeling on April 14 after surgeon Dr. Iain McAuley, MD, FRCSC, restores to reasonable health a malfunctioning prostate.