Thursday, December 16, 2004


I used the last of my vacation time Tuesday and Wednesday to take my mother to yet another hospital for yet another operation with yet another doctor. At least this was an outpatient, single-day procedure. We were told to check in two hours before the scheduled start time so she could change into a hospital robe, have an IV jabbed into her arm, and then wait for them to wheel her into surgery.

Checked out Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections (abridged) and David Baldacci's Total Control for the trip. I wish my car radio/cd player allowed a direct line connection so I could just hook Satan Sue into the system.

The hospital called my mother and informed her that we had to arrive an hour earlier than expected. We should have told them that we required 48 hours notice, or there would be an additional charge.

Awoke early and hit the road. After clearing Atlanta's traffic (this extends through several time zones) I popped in the first CD of The Corrections (abridged). The author has an extensive vocabulary and apparently created this "story" (abridged) to prove it. I used the quotes since I can't actually guarantee that this is a story because I listened to ten percent and the guy never stopped describing the elderly couple who were ostensibly the focus of the (abridged) book. Did I mention this was the abridged version? I don't know what they left out, and I don't want to know. Next I tried Total Control, which was okay but not one of Baldacci’s greater works. Something about the plot and characters seemed hackneyed, like it had all been done before ad nauseum.
I arrived at my mother's and found her feeling well, although hungry since she had not been allowed to eat or drink anything all day. We drove toward the hospital, but my mother gave me the wrong directions which left us cruising through historic downtown McMinville, a blip in Tennessee the size of a mud puddle but not nearly as clean. The few downtown roads they have are mostly under construction and one way with the directional signs hidden by other signs on the same pole (I'm not making that up). Fortunately we had left early, and I eventually managed to find our way using my Zen method of navigation (pointing the car in the general direction I need to go and turning if the current street tries to wander away).
The hospital itself was very modern and clean, looking completely out of place in its surroundings (cars and pickups from the seventies, gas stations that did not take credit cards, fast food joints blasting whiny, pious country music at their mostly black staff, etc.). We checked in and she changed into the hospital gown which we agreed was the best we'd seen since it wrapped all the way around and fastened on the side with no gaps showing. Over the next two hours, one nurse came by to take her history and another dug around in her arm until the IV needle intersected with a vein. They eventually took her to surgery, and I went out for food (out of sympathy or something, I hadn’t eaten all day either).
I returned just as they wheeled her back into her room looking angry and not at all anesthetized. She had been taken for surgery, but before they knocked her out the doctor reviewed her history and talked to her. The doctor told her a) they didn't perform that procedure at that hospital, b) especially not on high risk people like her, c) the operation would leave scarring inside her veins (while supposedly repairing other damage), and d) they weren't sure she needed the operation anyway. We waited awhile longer for some paperwork, but grew tired and just told them to mail it.
On a positive note, I had found a really great parking space right in front of the main entrance, so we were able to leave quickly.

I packed up and drove home early, attempting to avoid any heavy traffic on the way. I listened to more of Total Control, then realized I had heard it before. It's still clich├ęd and unremarkable, which is why I forgot listening to it a few years ago. On the way, a hot pink eighteen wheeler got on my tail (within a few feet), flashed his lights, and blasted his horn. Not wishing to be squished, I moved into the right lane and gave him the finger as he passed. He opened fire, and I died tragically on the interstate. Wait, that was a typo. He passed without incident, then immediately jumped into the right lane and took the next exit. I should mention that we were in the middle lane with ample room to pass on either side. Whoever that poor, lost soul was, I think we should all (in the spirit of HKRXmasux) wish the driver of the Mary Kay semi evil thoughts until he dies of excruciating pain.

Side Note:
A lot of people may find my recent encounters with medical misconduct to be surprising, but I don't. I've always thought it odd how many seem to believe that people who are educated and working higher paying, salaried professions are axiomatically hard-working and conscientious. I've worked in many places and positions and, if life has taught me anything, it's that people are people everywhere. I've met fast food workers and retail store clerks who were intellectually and morally superior to many IT and business managers for whom I've worked, and I've seen apathy and stupidity on all levels. Having said that, I must admit that I find incompetence more palatable in my profession than in the medical industry. When we screw up, computers reboot. When the medical peoples make such goofs, their clients tend to die.

Good is bad, bad is good, all the stuff's the same, out

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