Elizabeth's tonsillectomy went just fine. She was the first patient of the day on a non-busy day, so she got a lot of attention and everything was done sooner than predicted. I barely had time to have a cafe mocha and a strawberry-cream-cheese danish in the coffee shop before they were calling me back to see her.
Our main nurse was exactly the style I do best with: she told me the whole story in advance, like this: "First I'll do x, y, z. Then the anesthesiologist will come in, and he will ask you some new questions, but he'll also repeat some of the questions I already asked you, for safety. Then the doctor will come in, and he will do the same thing, and also he will listen to her heart and lungs again. After he leaves, that's when you should get dressed in your paper suit."
After we went home, things were pretty rough. Elizabeth threw up a lot, and she tried to cry about how much her throat hurt but couldn't cry because it hurt too much, and I lay awake that night fretting that she wasn't keeping her antibiotic down, and that I didn't know if I should wake her up for her pain medicine or if that would just make her throw up all over our bed, and that she might have to go back to the hospital (the ENT doctor said that if she couldn't keep fluids down he would check her right back in and give her an IV). (A measure of my phone anxiety is that I was just as nervous about the possibility of having to make that phone call as I was about having her back in the hospital.)
Another thing making me nervous was all the conflicting information. The post-tonsillectomy sheet from the ENT doctor was different than the post-tonsillectomy sheet from the hospital. The verbal instructions from the ENT doctor were different than the verbal instructions from the nurses. I didn't know who to follow.
The nurses, I'd think, would be more familiar with the practical effects: the doctor gives his instructions and then is gone like a summer breeze, while the nurses are there caring for the barfing patients. But the doctor is at least in theory the boss/expert of this show, and he's the one I'd have to answer to if something went wrong as a result of me NOT following his instructions, and it's hard for a layperson to tell the difference between the nurses who can wear the "Thank a nurse: we keep the doctors from accidentally killing you" t-shirts and the ones who really shouldn't take that adversarial tone.
Oh, I could ask for clarification when I find differences in instruction? Genius! But often such questions don't crop up until after I'm home and the potential complication mentioned on the sheet presents itself---so I would need to call. And more importantly, ask WHOM? If I ask the doctor, he'll tell me to follow his instructions; if I ask the nurses, they'll tell me to follow theirs. And both will have good reasons!
You know, maybe the professionals could work these differences out among themselves, rather than putting patients in the middle to figure it out and make guesses and "trust their guts" (which I find seems to work only in hindsight, during the self-congratulating/rebuking stage of a decision). I have EVEN LESS of a medical degree than either of the two groups, so I don't really care how much "YOU have to be the ADVOCATE of your HEALTH!!" is going around, I am not QUALIFIED for that POSITION. Which is why the Large Checks go FROM me rather than TO me: I'm paying people with education, expertise, and experience to tell me what to do, because "my gut" doesn't know anything ABOUT tonsillectomy recovery.
(She was way better on the second day, thank goodness.)
Gift ideas for an 8-year-old, part 2 of 2 - Last week I talked about the gifts we were getting/considering for Edward, who is turning 8 next month. This week it’s Elizabeth’s turn: not “girl gifts,” ...