Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Major Snag with Surgery

Today sucked. We drove to Norfolk, met with Dr. Magee and Dr. Dilustro (neurosurgeon doing the harvesting of the bone from her skull). All was good. Went downstairs to surgery to meet with anesthesia.

And that's when things went downhill.

We met with an anesthesiologist - and was told that he would not be the one that has her case for tomorrow. No biggie. That's normal. After going over her history, the anesthesiologist said the Chief of Anesthesia has her case and that he would call him to give him a "heads up." I jokingly said, "You mean warn him?"

He was gone for a long while.

He came back and said that the Chief did not feel comfortable being on her case. He said she needs a cardiac anesthesiologist. Well, DUH! Frankly, I didn't even know that CHKD had cardiac anesthesiologists. And the last time she had this surgery there, it wasn't mentioned and her anes was fine with her. But now they want one and he didn't know if one was available. I asked how we can find out if one is available (it was getting late in the afternoon by this point). He said that he needed to call and see if he had left yet. Plus, they wanted a copy of her most current echocardiogram (which was in August). In fact, he asked me if we had it with us. Sure, it's right here in my back pocket. NOT! Then - he KEPT TALKING! HELLO! Stop talking and starting dialing! So, I interrupted him and told him to go get on the phone already! UGH! While he was doing that, Tom jumped on the phone to call her cardiologist in Richmond to have them fax down her echo report.

When Tom came back, he started to get really mad. But I told him to calm down, let's not worry yet. If one is available - then we're in and all will be okay.

So, now it is getting really late and we're still supposed to go get lab work done so they'll have blood ready just in case. The surgery area is now completely empty - we're the only people in there - not one employee (well, except for the poor anes who had to deal with us). I tried to overhear his conversation - but couldn't. While waiting, I ran back up to the 5th floor and found Karen (Dr. Magee's coordinator) and gave her a heads up that something was amiss. Then I run back downstairs.

He finally comes out and says - in not so many words - that yes, a cardiac anes is available, however he is not comfortable, either. WHAT?!?!?!?!!?!?!?! I had to say, "Are you telling me her surgery is cancelled?"



"He wants a new echo, more information and he wants to meet her."

Okay, fine, tell him to call her cardiologist, come here now, or get here early in the morning, meet her, do the echo and problems solved.

No, he can't come now, and the echo's are all booked up in the morning on other cases.

Then pull an echo off another case.


I don't remember exactly the correct order of all that was said, but this is a summary of what I said...

It is so unprofessional for them to make this decision and not ask to talk to me on the phone. They had this guy, who had nothing to do with her case, come and relay the message. I've been around the block. I'm seasoned. I'm her mom. This is major surgery - a huge big deal to cancel - and I deserve to talk to the guy making this decision. They need to put their heads together and come up with solutions. Think out of the box and TRY HARDER!!!!


At one point - and I can't remember exactly when it was said (and it was said more than once) "Well, we don't want to kill her."

Well, THAT'S professional. He kept saying that after they "cut her open her heart rate could go sky high." I really can't believe we had that conversation.

After I let my feelings be well known, I went to get our stuff. I took the paperwork for the blood work and balled it up and threw it on the floor. Oh, that is so not like me. But, like I said, I was PISSED.

He followed me and said he would try again.

Again, he was gone for a long time. This whole time Harlie is just playing, being so darn good. It makes me so sad that all this is happening and she doesn't know. I know that's better than her knowing. But, it still makes me sad. And, honestly, I am very glad that the circumstances aren't so that Harlie can understand what's going on. Because if she understood his wonderful, "Well, we don't want to kill her" statement, I would have his head.

While he was gone, I called her Richmond cardiologist. He told me that he's had trouble with this facility before. Which is so not comforting. And - even with major trouble - they never once picked up the phone to call him. Which, of course, I offered to get one of her cardiologists on the phone. I mean, if you're a cardiac anes, and you want more info on a patient's heart condition, wouldn't you call her um, hold on, let me think now.... oh yea, her CARDIOLOGIST?!?!?

Well, in the meantime, Dr. Magee has called and spoken with this dude. From what I hear, he said they better get their stuff in gear, because this surgery WILL happen tomorrow. I was told he was pissed, too.

The dude comes back out and says that it is possible it could still happen tomorrow. Luckily Dr. Magee only has one other case tomorrow, so they are switching places and letting him go first in order to buy them time to get the information they want to feel more comfortable with Harlie.

So, instead of being there at 5:30am, we will get there at 7am. She will be given some Versed to make her feel very relaxed and then they will do an echo. And they will call her DC cardiologist to get the operative notes from her last heart surgery.

Tom says that he thinks it's a long shot that surgery will happen tomorrow. I'm trying to be more positive. But, I do agree that I need to prepare to walk out of there tomorrow and go home.

Here are my problems with this whole situation:

1. As a parent, I need to feel completely comfortable and confident in the people that are taking care of my child in a dangerous situation. I need to feel good about her surgeons, and their abilities. And I need to feel good about the guy who is keeping her alive and properly sedated during surgery. The latter, not so much.

2. Do I push it or do I run? While running wouldn't be a hard thing to do (meaning I dread this surgery and the recovery) it MUST happen in order for us to move forward. The decision to do this surgery is not a choice - it is a necessity. And running would just be putting off the inevitable. And, well, we haven't run from anything yet so far, so why start now?

3. Do I really have a child that is THAT scary of a patient? Is she THAT risky? Because this is number - oh, I've lost count - 12, 14? And we are not done. I cannot begin to think that way. I will go crazy and I will be of no use to her if I become that scared.

I tried to explain that to him. If every time we were afraid of the "what ifs" and didn't go forward, she wouldn't be here today. Living afraid is not an option for us.

Do you know what his response to that was? "Well, it could be that 14th time that something goes wrong."


Honestly, I try not to judge. But c'mon!!! These are the guys that are supposed to be making me feel better. They are the ones that should have some confidence. This guy was young and an idiot. And I remember his name.

Well, it is late and I still have some e-mails to send. I'll update as soon as I can.

Thanks for all your well wishes. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers that the right thing happens tomorrow and that all will be okay.



Ann said...

That's just crap Christy. I don't understand the breakdown in communication and why the issue wasn't raised until the day before surgery. Then again, there's a lot about how the medical profession does things that I don't understand. I sure hope you are able to get some sleep tonight and I'll say a prayer that surgery goes as planned, Harlie does well and her recovery is smooth and complication free.


Susan said...

While sadly I'm not surprised I am left wondering how it is that these things often seem to happen. They have a child's life in their hands and they only just now are figuring out what they need, to do a surgery TOMORROW?! Isn't it somebodies job to make sure they have a proper anesthesiologist available for the surgery?! I hope it's just a case of a young doctor being unexperienced and getting the other doctor spooked by what he said. I'll be crossing my fingers that everything gets worked out. Hugs. Big hugs.

Rene said...

Wow. Just wow. I cannot believe they jerked you around like that at the last minute. So where are the anesthesiologists that have done surgeries 1-13??? Call up one of those guys. Heck, go over her surgical notes. That will tell them what she's responded to in the past. I don't even know what to think about all of this. Just praying surgery DOES happen!



Allie said...

I. Am. Thinking. About. You.

kelly said...

I can't even begin to imagine your frustration Christy. Through it all, though, you continue to amaze me with your fierce determination and focus. you are truly an inspiration and a reminder not to take my blessings for granted. Saying major prayers that all goes as planned (BETTER than planned)and that you and your family get the outcome that you all need and deserve. We'll be watching anxiously for updates and sending lots of love, too.

Karin Kysilka said...

Oh my God. That is all I can think of to say. I am stunned and on the edge of anger-tears on your behalf. Like you said, this isn't a "choice" in the ordinary sense of the word. At least, if it is a choice to have surgery at all, there is only one responsible choice to make. Still, I hear you loud and clear about how you need to trust, trust, trust. Why can't you get the surgeon you like at the hospital that understands what Harlie needs? Ok, that wasn't a helpful comment. I'll be thinking about you all day, and if you want, I'll drive down there and give them a piece of my mind, too. :-)

Lindsay said...

Unprofessional is an understatement! What happened to empathetic bedside manner? And maybe thinking more than 24 hours ahead about the documents you might want to see for your cases? Grrr - so upset for you. And so impressed that you stuck to it. Give Harlie a squeeze - we'll be hoping all goes well today!

The Kravetz's said...

UNPROFESSIONAL!!!! I would be embarassed if this was my hospital! Hope surgery goes as planned and all goes well. Thinking of you and Harlie! This anesthesiologist should be reprimanded but in my experience, these guys are pricks because they are allowed to be! He needs to be "gassed"! Hang in there!!!
Looking forward to good news!

Anonymous said...

wow and WOW! I just can't believe this madness! Who waits until the day BEFORE to take care of the important "little" details????? Christy, I would have freaked too, you reacted as we all would.
You must, after all this is said and done, go to someone and complain. CHKD is a children's hospital for goodness sake! They must be intensely trained in dealing with parents in a proper manner. And to say these things in front of Harlie- out of line!
Well, I hope whatever is meant to happen will today as far as whether you have surgery or not. I mean, who the frick wants an anes who isn't sure of him/herself anyway?! UGH!!! xoxoxox

Love Kerry

Unknown said...

I echo everyone's comments, however as I was reading I wondered what had happened to bedside manner?....so I especially resonate with Lindsay's thoughts.

So sorry that you all have to go through this.

Kim said...

I am SOOO angry for you - at the point of pissed off tears just reading that. Stupid, stupid man. Who the heck does he think he's talking to? Did he not look down at the chart and see the paths you guys have walked with Harlie? WTF?! How dare him talk to you that way. You should copy your post and send it to the administration. It's fools like him that cause accidents, and he should be eliminated from that position immediately. Grrrr for you.

Ahem. That aside, I hope the surgery goes as planned, and I hope that this snag causes you to get the best anes there is available. Perhaps it's a blessing in disguise. Imagine if this moron decided it was OK to do this - he's obviously inept, and you don't want him, or his inept associates, anywhere near Harlie.

Sarah Gunn said...

Hope everything works out as it should, I have been thinking about you guys a lot. Big hugs from Matt, Charlie and me! Let us know if you need ANYTHING!!!

B-Mama said...

I am just getting caught up and am so angry for you. SO very glad you gave them a piece of your mind--they deserved it. And I'm really glad Dr. Magee got in on the action too. Go Doc! Why weren't these anes. people clued into her situation ahead of time so as to prepare?! Ugh!!

I am praying all is well right now at the hospital. We'll be continuing to keep you all in our thoughts and prayers. Hugs and good luck.

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