Saturday, November 16, 2013

Way Too Much Information

Yesterday I had cataract surgery on the other eye at an out-patient surgical center. I was sedated, but conscious during the surgery. The first time, the topic between surgeon and anesthesiologist was football. I tuned them out. This time, the anesthesiologist was a chatty young extrovert who appeared to be 15 years old. As soon as we were in the operating room, he engaged the surgeon in conversation. I gathered that this was his first time working with the surgeon. Hoping, I guess, to get on his good side, he said, “It seems to me that being an eye surgeon has to be the most stressful of all the different kinds of surgery. You have to do this delicate work under this big magnifying glass.”  

“Yeah, well,” replied the surgeon. “It’s not that difficult, unless there’s a misadventure.”

The youngster went on, “I know what you mean. I am always anxious about administering epidurals. You have to do it at just the right moment, and if something slips . . .”   

I don’t remember saying anything, but the nurse later told me that I spoke up. I probably said, “I don’t want to hear this.” So the young man introduced a new topic. This time is was about people with Aspergers: how brilliant some of them are and how absolutely focused this one guy was, whom the anesthesiologist knew personally. Again, I couldn’t help paying attention, wondering where he was going with this topic. I listened attentively for a put-down, which never came. 

Back in the recovery room, I told the nurse that I thought the topics were inappropriate. I must have made the surgical center staff a little anxious, because the next thing I knew, the anesthesiologist was at my bedside, apologizing profusely for “upsetting” me. Like many males would have done, he hinted that perhaps I was too sensitive. Fortunately, he went no further in that direction!  I was more annoyed than anything else.  Medical personnel shouldn’t assume that the patient isn’t listening and taking it all in. In the pre-op talk, he’d even said that I would hear them talking and that I might or might not remember what was said. Well, I remembered.