Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Still more tube tribulations
I've been complaining for months about a steadily eroding rubber cap to my G-tube.
When I showed the cap to my doctor last summer, he got Kaiser's Durable Medical Equipment Department on the phone and asked them to send a replacement to me. When I received that delivery, it was not the part that I needed but an entire solid-state G-tube that was useless to me. When a friend and a clerk in Kaiser's Member Services both called Durable Medical Equipment to straighten out the misunderstanding and get the proper part delivered to me, Durable Medical Equipment just sent an G-tube that was identical to the one that I already told them I couldn't use.
That second delivery was packed into a box the size of a microwave oven, though the G-tube itself is only about the size of a Red Vine.
Last week, I contacted the surgeon in the Gastroenterology Department who originally installed my G-tube last winter, and she agreed to take a look at it. I missed an appointment last week but showed up 30 minutes early on Tuesday to make sure I wouldn't blow my chance to be seen by Dr. Sekhon a second time.
I told my boss I should be able to handle this appointment and get back to my desk before my lunch hour ended. But as I stood at the check-in station to Gastroenterology, on the sixth floor of the building that used to be the main hospital, I wondered if I should have packed an overnight bag.
With one eye on the clock and the other watching a woman named Melva make multiple impressions from my Kaiser card, I could tell that I wasn't going to make it back to the office anytime soon. There was a form for anesthesia, a form for an advance directive and a form admitting me into Gastroenterology. After wrapping a band around my wrist, Melva handed me a plastic sleeve stuffed with papers and directed me to take a seat in the waiting area.
All this to get a rubber cap replaced?!
Once my name was called and I was led into the ward, things got even sillier. A nurse told me to take my shirt off and slip into a hospital gown, and then she disappeared. When she returned she was pushing a regulation-size hospital bed into the exam room.
I kicked off my shoes, climbed into the bed and hunkered down for the long haul —which means, I took a nap.
Dr. Sekhon woke me when she and the nurse came into the room.
Luckily, it looked like I wasn't going to need to be knocked out for the procedure to happen. I showed Dr. Sekhon the frayed cap on the G-tube and she said, "Oh, you just need a bumper!"
She told me she would be right back. Sure enough, in just a few minutes Dr. Sekhon returned with a fresh bumper. She popped the broken bumper off of my G-tube, slipped the new one on in its place, and said I could get dressed and leave.
Replacing that bum cap cost months of frustration, was far too complicated, and I think I burned some bridges in the Durable Medical Equipment Department, but my G-tube is good as new now.
And the next time I return to Gastroenterology I hope it will be to have the G-tube removed, not to have a spare part replaced.