The ultrasound

The Ultrasound

As mentioned earlier in this blog, I have to go for a “trans esophageal ultrasound”, or better said “an ultrasound of my heart through my esophagus”. According to the physician assistant this was urgent. He mentioned I would get an invitation for the ultrasound under anesthesia in the mail. And indeed, two days after seeing the physician assistant, I received a letter for an ultrasound in 7 weeks! I wonder what the reason is for the urgency: the fact that there was an opening in the schedule, or if it is really urgent that I get the ultrasound? I discuss this with the rehabilitation physician of the rehabilitation center. She listens well and understands my fear for this examination. She will call the cardiologist herself to check the background for this examination. Before I had a chance to speak to the physician again, I receive another letter in the mail with the new date for the examination: two days later!

The secretary arranges a wheelchair bus and I decide to go with the inevitable flow of things. We need to be there at 11:00 AM and we arrive ahead of time. I am called in by a foreign lady who seems a bit stressed. “You can undress here and then you can go through that door.” Taught by experience, I say “Hey, I’d like to learn what we will be doing.” “Well, first you’ll have an ECG, and then we’ll do an ultrasound.” “Under general anesthesia?” I ask. “‘No, you will receive a local anesthetic.” ”We agreed that I’d get an ultrasound under general anesthesia.”
“Well, that is not possible this morning”, she says in a snappy way.

My head is sort of short circuiting. “That is not possible this morning? Not possible? We discussed and agreed on this and changed the arrangements to today for this particular reason”. My rehabilitation physician has called to ensure I get general anesthetics!”
I cry and snivel simultaneously. Rarely have I felt so angry, powerless and at the mercy of the “monster of the Great Organization”. Or “The Big Incompetence”, which is what I increasingly wonder. No wonder that health care gets more expensive. But the causes for that are not what the media tells you.

The lady casts one more look and says “wait here” and leaves the room. My hubby helps me back into my wheelchair. In the meantime, I had turned into a great deal of misery. “I do not need this” the Americans would say. After fifteen minutes (I timed it) the lady appears, slightly heated, back into the room. I have the impression that she has ransacked the whole department. The miracle has happened: I get the examination under general anesthetic, she says. Only that is not possible now. It has to wait till this afternoon at 15:00. And had I heard that I had to fast for this?

None of the letters we have received from the hospital indicated that I had to fast for this examination. We looked at this with the nurses upon return. Dug through all the letters, but nothing about fasting. Fortunately, the ultrasound is in the afternoon and I ate just one sandwich in the morning. If I don’t eat any more from now on, then that should be fine.

The taxi’s schedule is now completely messed up. The wheelchair taxi must be booked long in advance. My husband decides that – despite the drizzle and no jacket – we’ll go for a walk to the rehabilitation center so that I can get some rest. That works, though it is bumpier than I had realized in advance. At the rehabilitation center the nurses are concerned and outraged regarding the way things are going. What are the costs for this not yet performed examination?

– 1 wheelchair taxi
– 1 hour time of the research assistant (with tasks that she doesn’t have to do, namely, scheduling an (urgent) appointment)
– 1 hour examination time for a patient
– Rescheduling of the examination for the afternoon
– Time for me and my husband
– A substantial drop in patient satisfaction.

It all could have been easily prevented.


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