The World’s Best Bedside Manner

A little over a week ago I had surgery on my wrist. I was scared silly. Mostly because I’d be all alone during my recovery, but also because it’s downright unnatural to voluntarily subject oneself to getting sliced open. I mean, seriously, who in their right mind says, “Here. Cut me, please.” You have to be in a heck of a lot of pain in order to seek out pain as a remedy for that pain. After many months of procrastinating, I had reached that point.

I had every confidence in my surgeon. Her name is Dr. Elizabeth Joneschild, and she’s part of the Seattle Hand Surgery Group. I’d seen her several times prior to this last, surgical resort, so I had developed a great professional relationship with her. Not only does she clearly know what she’s doing, but she’s very patient when you ask her questions, has an excellent reputation, and, let’s face it, she wouldn’t have an office with such a spectacular view if she weren’t doing something right. So if you have problems with your hand or wrist, I highly recommend her.

The anesthesiologist, on the other hand, I only got to meet on the morning of the surgery. That’s, of course, pretty standard, but it doesn’t do much to inspire confidence. Here’s someone who can knock you out in a variety of ways, who you don’t meet until he’s about to knock you out.

In this case, I was to remain conscious. They were only numbing the arm and putting a drape across so I couldn’t see what was happening (for which I was extremely grateful). But I was still scared and I’ve no doubt that it showed.

But I was lucky enough to have Dr. Stephen Markowitz as my anesthesiologist. I’ve known a lot of great people in the medical field in my lifetime, but this guy really went the extra mile. Obviously Dr. J had to concentrate on what she was doing, so Dr. M started asking me about my job. What’s it like to be a bridgetender? What bridge do you work on? How high is it above the water? Any question he could think of.

Not only did this conversation distract me, but (and I have no idea if he was conscious that he was doing this or not) it also allowed my mind to leave a realm where I was feeling pretty helpless and scared, and enter a realm where I was an expert and actually had something to teach and contribute. The surgery was over in about 15 minutes, and I didn’t feel a thing, not even panic. What a gift.

I’ve got to say that my hand was definitely in good hands. I’ll be forever grateful for that. When you only have two of something, you tend to want to hold on to them at all costs.

HomeHands

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5 thoughts on “The World’s Best Bedside Manner

  1. The nurse… a formidably large African American woman who attended a… uh… slightly embarrassing and painful procedure, did a simple thing. She put her hand on my arm. The human contact took my focus off the scalpel. It was incredible. Such a simple thing.

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