Down the hall a bunch of firefighters (subtly identifiable by the “Portland Fire Dept.” on the backs of their jackets) are congratulating a woman who I initially assumed was the wife of a firefighter. Bad sexist Brian! She could, of course, be a firefighter herself.
Regardless, there is a certain pleasing symmetry here. One woman is recovering from having her uterus removed from her body in Room 2502, while a few doors down another woman is celebrating the removal of a body from her uterus. I hear a Disney song in my head: “The circle of life….”
At this moment Laurel is talking on the phone to her sister in Indiana, sounding perfectly normal. She isn’t feeling much pain, thanks to morphine and a skillfully performed laparoscopic surgery. The operation only took about two hours, on the low end of the surgeon’s (Dr. Philippa Ribbink) estimated ETA.
It went so fast, I had barely settled into the Family Waiting Area (after checking into a nearby hotel, eating lunch, and taking a short nap) before Dr. Ribbink walked in, green scrubs and all. I couldn’t help but be a little nervous, since I had observed this scene both in countless movies and also in the fifteen minutes or so I had been sitting in the Waiting Area.
In the two real-life doctor-relative conversations I had heard, the news wasn’t particularly positive. Complications had arisen in one surgery; it wouldn’t be over for several hours more. Results from a biopsy were being awaited in another case; the man’s wife would have to stay in the hospital overnight before learning if another surgery was needed.
So it was a relief to have Dr. Ribbink sit down next to me and say, “Everything went great. We left in her ovaries—they looked fine. Laurel is awake. She’ll be moved from recovery to her room in about an hour.” And so she was. It looks like she won’t be here long. Ribbink just visited and said that Laurel probably will be able to go home tomorrow.
Hooray! The Legacy Emanuel staff are treating Laurel (and me) wonderfully. However, at $X,000 a day, where “X” is an unknown but scary number, we’re both more than happy to spend tomorrow night at home—where the nursing care by yours truly is decidedly less skilled yet appealingly free.
We are hugely impressed with Legacy Emanuel. This glowing review comes from two people who usually find that the American health care system leaves a lot to like. Such as, competent compassionate health care. Often “competence” and “compassion” seem to be qualities that can’t coexist in the same medical professional. We’ve encountered technically proficient doctors who had a horrible bedside manner. We’ve experienced warm friendly doctors who knew less about a medical condition than one of us did.
Legacy Emanuel is richly stocked with physicians and nurses who swing both ways—with competence and compassion. From the pre-op procedures, through the operation itself, to the post-op care Laurel is getting at this very moment (she’s getting ready to take her first steps, another poetic moment in the Family Birth Center), every person we’ve dealt with has been highly professional and also highly human.
We couldn’t help but notice that all of these people have been of the female variety—aside from two orderlies who wheeled Laurel from the recovery room to the Family Birth Center. Surgeon, anesthesiologist, nurses, admissions clerk: all women. I told the anesthesiologist, “You seem to be running an all-female operation here. Is this hospital run by the Sacred Society of Amazons?” (Actually, I think Legacy Emanuel is Lutheran).
Thankfully, Laurel and I haven’t spent much time in hospitals, either as patients or visitors. Maybe most hospitals provide the same sort of high quality care Legacy Emanuel does. But I doubt it.
When we told friends that Laurel was going to have an operation here, a disturbingly large proportion said, “Thank heavens you’re not going to be admitted to ______ Hospital. The care there is ______” (a close approximation of the missing words can be derived by substituting the home town of this weblog for the first blank, and any suitably derogatory term for the second blank).
A few minutes after Laurel was wheeled into Room 2502, we were greeted by a pleasant young woman who said with a smile, “Hello. My name is Georgina. I’ll be your nurse, along with Heidi, during your stay this evening.”
We felt like pampered diners in an exclusive French restaurant. And when we get the bill from Georgina’s employer, that feeling will seem even more real.