An update on my skin cancer saga…the surgeon’s office called to begin preparing me for my Moh’s surgery. It is scheduled for February 9th. The Very Helpful Assistant wanted to make sure I remembered to get my referral, bring my insurance card and be prepared to spend the entire day at the office for this outpatient surgery. I really don’t care about my insurance cards and referrals. I care about drugs. I wanted to know what the pain level was going to be like during this surgery.
“We’ll numb your nose using local anesthesia,” she replied. “It shouldn’t be uncomfortable at all.”
Let me translate this secret code that is used by medical practitioners everywhere.
“We’re going to take a three foot long needle and shove it into your nose until you scream for mercy. It will be excruciatingly painful and you’ll probably need to bite down on a bullet. Then when you think you can’t take it any more, the doctor will arrive and start slicing skin off the side of your nose like he was making a salami sandwich.”
So I asked her if I could POSSIBLY get a little help with pain management.
“You know, when I go to the dentist they give me happy gas before they give me the novocaine shot. Do you have happy gas? Can I have some happy gas?”
“When you arrive for your surgery you can certainly discuss your options with the physician,” she replied.
“Does this mean you HAVE happy gas and there is a chance I can get it?” I asked. “What if it takes advance preparation? What if I arrive and the doctor says, ‘If I’d only known, we’d have prepared the happy gas.”
“Well Ms. Harman, you are welcome to schedule a consultation with the doctor before the surgery,” she replied. “Would you like an appointment?”
“No, I just want to know if you have happy gas.”
“Well, I’m afraid I can’t answer that, would you like to schedule a consultation?”
“Yes, tell the doctor I want a consultation for 3 minutes on the telephone because all I want to know is if you have happy gas and can I get some.”
“Just a moment, Ms. Harman. I’ll be right back with you.”
<music on hold>
Now you know that as soon as the assistant put me on hold she turned around to her co-workers and announced she had a drug addict on the phone line.
“Hello Ms. Harman, this is Dave, one of the physician’s assistants. Can I help you with something?”
“Yes, you can tell me if you have happy gas and can I get some on the day of my surgery before you start shoving needles in my nose.”
“Well, I’m afraid we don’t carry happy gas here.”
“Well then what do you do to prepare patients that are big fat babies? Do you have anything for me? I can’t even finish sentences right now because I keep thinking about that big needle.”
There was a slight pause, where it is clear that David is wondering why he chose his profession in the first place.
“Well, Ms. Harman, if you come in about 30 minutes earlier than your appointment we’ll be happy to give you a Valium. Have you ever taken Valium before?”
“Only once in the 8th grade but that was when I was going through my bad seed phase. I love it, I’ll take it.”
“That’s great Ms. Harman,” replied David. “Just be sure to arrive 30 minutes in advance so it can have its full effect before we begin surgery.”
So let this be a lesson to you. NEVER assume that all will be taken care of the morning of the surgery. The fact that the entire staff of the surgical office thinks that I am a raving drug addict is a small price to pay for a little happy pill. Not as good as happy gas, but I’ll take what I can get.