Sunday, June 26, 2005


Here's the latest on my son's surfing injury. Early Friday afternoon he rang the hospital as instructed by a detailed hand-written note provided by hospital staff. He was told that he would have surgery on Saturday morning and that he was wanted in hospital immediately. As it's impractical to get there by bus and it's an hour by car, he told them he couldn't possibly get there before late afternoon, after I got off work. Whoever he spoke to wasn't happy about the travel arrangements but said he should come on in. I dropped him off.

Brad home late Saturday morning. No surgery for him today – the swelling needed to go down more. He was ... annoyed. Nobody seemed to know what was going on. His bed-side phone didn't work and the promised technician had failed to show. He couldn't even watch TV – at $7 a day – because he didn't have his wallet with him. He was a bit surprised to be told that his two front teeth might be knocked out during intubation. It was also news to him that the surgery wasn't minor by any means: a piece would be removed from the back of his skull and used to repair his damaged eye-socket. Oh well, tomorrow it would be done and in a few days he could go home. As if.

Brad rang at 9:30 Sunday morning. This time he was angry. He had been told surgery had been put off again due to swelling. He was desperate to be picked up. I was on my way. Only a few minutes down the road my mobile rang. It was a somewhat panicy hospital staffer wanting to know if I knew where Brad was. I said he was probably in the lobby waiting to be picked up. She said she couldn't understand this as Brad was due in surgery. I said that he had told me surgery had been cancelled. She said no, that's not right, surgery is still on. I headed home.

God-dammit, what the hell is going on here. I couldn't figure out what to do. There was no point ringing the hospital: Brad was in the hospital and he didn't know what was going on. After waiting at home for about 30 minutes I got back in the car and headed to the hospital, determined to sort things out. A few minutes later Brad rang my mobile. Surgery had definitely been postponed until Tuesday. He was now told there had been an emergency case that preempted him. Hospital staff couldn't find him because he was in the smoking area listening to heroin addicts' tales of woe. It was better than watching the TV he couldn't watch.

Obviously the public hospital system is having problems. (For those of you outside Australia, we have parallel public and private hospital systems: those who can afford it take out private cover and use the private system.) Brad's surgery is considered urgent and he's still being messed around. Just imagine what public patients waiting for elective surgery have to put up with.

Update: The Tuesday surgery thing was poorly explained to Brad. This came to light when I asked him what time he had to be back at hospital on Tuesday. He gave me a card given to him at hospital. It shows he has an appointment Tuesday morning at a different hospital. His problem has been hand-balled. Updates will follow.


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