As the information session at Hospital XYZ began to wrap up, the Complementary Spouse leaned over to me and whispered, “This is like an assembly line.”
“I totally agree,” I whispered back.
I had really high hopes for Hospital XYZ. Their website is attractive, and includes a lot of information about the accreditation of the hospital itself and the surgeons. When I arrived, I was pleased to see that the practice had put a lot of thought into the waiting room. Chairs were wide enough to fit a heavy person comfortably. The scale would definitely accommodate an obese person.
I signed in at an electronic kiosk, and was asked to fill out some additional paperwork by a friendly woman at the front desk. Britt arrived a few minutes later. At 3 p.m., we were escorted into a classroom by a short blonde woman with too many tattoos on her fingers. Her title was registrar, as if we were enrolling at a university.
The 90-minute informational session was very light on the information I wanted to know. Four things really bothered me:
- There are two surgeons in the practice. The registrar said they’re both good, so we should just Google the names to find out more. These are men who may be cutting open my body and tinkering with the organs. I don’t think a pick-one-at-random approach is appropriate.
- There was only brief discussion of the actual procedures done — the Roux-en-Y and the gastric sleeve. Once again, I felt like I was being told to pick one at random. I really would have appreciated knowing how the two procedures compare, and why someone might choose one over another.
- Patients cannot meet with the surgeons until very late in the process, and then the interview is only scheduled for 15 minutes.
- The information booklet was professionally done, but out of date. The practice no longer does lapband procedures, but they were included in the materials. The registrar said we should just cross out those sections when we encountered them.
Compare this to my experience yesterday with the surgeon at Hospital ABC. The surgeon was the first person to meet me, and he spent about half an hour answering all my questions. He educated me about the two procedures, and told me which one he prefers (sleeve) and why (Footnote 1).
After I met with the surgeon yesterday, Britt and I met one-on-one with the program manager for about 45 minutes. She clearly explained the next steps I needed to take, and then answered a lot of questions (Footnote 2).
The surgeon yesterday didn’t have the nicer office, or special chairs, or a heavy-duty scale. His printed materials weren’t as slick. But he took the time to meet me, and that means a lot. And he didn’t treat me like a number.
I still have research to do, but I know which way I’m leaning.
- He actually provided a handful of reasons for favoring the sleeve. The first is that generally has fewer complications, and that the healing time is shorter. The second is that there is no dumping syndrome. The third is that, if I need it in the future, they can insert a camera on a tube down my throat and check out my stomach and points beyond. With the Roux-en-Y procedure, this is not possible.
- I asked a lot of random questions. Can I have sushi? Can I have soup? Will Lucy the Wonderpup be able to rest on my chest?