From the sexy voice of Tracey Thorn to Twilight Anesthesia and finally the attractive price of Australian Health Care, this story will fuel your health care controversy for the week. The stars of this show will remain anonymous. Their names have been changed but the situation is real. Real FUN!
My anesthetist, we'll call him Dr. Feelgood, my surgeon, Dr. Rasta, and his assistant, Dr. Zissou, all made my one-hour sun-spot removal a barrel of laughs and a moment in time that I didn't want to end. It might be the drugs talking, but I think I'm a good judge of character and I imagine I will be hanging out with these cats again.
To make this story really interesting I should start at the beginning, and move quickly - stick with me! I developed a sun-spot on my forehead that needed to be removed. A kind young Fox pointed me in the direction of a dermatologist, who appointed me with Dr. Rasta.
There was a snaffoo with my appointment the day before the operation. The surgeon's office canceled due to lack of approval from my insurance. Only in Australia will the doctor's office cancel your appointment! I confirmed that I would pay first and file for reimbursement later (past history shows I'll get close to 50% back) and the appointment was on, no doubt.
I got a plastic bracelet with my name, a backless gown (racy!), and, again, only in Australia, a white fluffy robe and slippers! I've never seen fluffy robes and slippers in US hospitals, have you? I boarded my gurney, (trolley if you're Commonwealth), and my Irish orderly drove me around to the staging area of the surgery theatre.
There I met Dr. Feelgood. Like the most benevolent of dictators, Dr. Feelgood informed me that his services would lie outside of the $2,000+ for the hospital fees and $2,000+ for Dr. Rasta. For a bargain price of $300 or so I would be drugged up to a projected level of satisfaction. It's one of my life's best investments!
Dr. Feelgood wheeled my Healthcare Chariot to Dr. Rasta's operating theatre while the initial drugs took their effect. Wondering if the drugs induced aural hallucinations, I asked Dr. Rasta, "Do I hear Reggae?"
"Yes", replied Dr. Rasta. "We are listening to Reggae." He added a little chuckle, like I didn't get an inside joke. The conversations continued over my head while they covered my eyes as nurses crowded in and conversations engaged to set up the operation.
"How many people are around me right now?" I was wondering if Twilight Anesthetics tripled my three people into nine.
"Seven" responded a British voice that I didn't recognise. "There are seven people taking care of you."
Good to know. "Lucky number", I added. "Who said that?" I knew Dr. Rasta from the consultation weeks earlier, but who was this Bloody Pom? :)
"Dr. Zissou." His name wasn't really Dr. Zissou, but you'll see why it fits.
"Dr. Zissou is my assistant" quipped Dr. Rasta, sharpening his scalpel to my left.
They met my curiosity with some questions of their own, and soon their questions became more pointed. "So what do you want to do with the MBA?"
"Make boatloads of money." I waited a few seconds to see their reaction. "I'm not really in it for the money. I'm all about the triple bottom line of Financial, Social, and Environmental Responsibility." They were waiting for me to impress them. "The end game is to be able to fund my second film." Is that good enough?
"Tell me about your first film". I've gotta be on drugs to think talking about myself is so interesting, and I take the bait, telling them about Louvst and the visual allegory of Love, Lust, Lose, and Lost. "Who is your favourite filmmaker?" I mention Wes Anderson and start giggling about The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
"What's your favourite film, Doc?" I was happy to duck out of the limelight and focus on whether or not I could actually feel the carving going on with my forehead. I couldn't feel a thing.
"The Life Aquatic was pretty good. It's my favourite!" Dr. Zissou was a true explorer into the Austin Avante Garde! You've snagged another fan, Wes Anderson ;)
As our conversation flowed effortlessly, the tugging on my face came to an end, and Dr. Zissou stepped up to the plate. "Can you hand me that magical spray can?" Relieved that he was talking to the nurse, I had to ask.
"Did you say magical spray can?" Where WAS I? What the harumpf is a magic spraycan? As it turns out they were preparing my bandage...
Dr. Zissou was downright cheeky, "There might as well be magic in this little can. It'll make the sticky tape we're putting on your face even stickier!" He wasn't kidding. It's still there now as I type to you, faithful reader.
The party was starting to break up, and the music transitioned to the familiar, soothing sound of Tracey Thorn. "Is that Everything But the Girl?", I asked. Dr. Rasta laughed affirmatively from across the room.
What is this place where I've consumed Narcotics, Reggae, Film, and Tracey Thorn? I wanted to invite them all to dinner. I'm saving that for the follow-up consultation next week.
"This is the infamous iPod mix of Dr. Rasta." Dr. Zissou beamed with pride, as though he were defending a title.
I should have asked practical questions like 'How many stitches did I get?' or 'Will I get more pain killers?', but instead I left the theatre on my back, the four wheels of my gurney being guided by the doctors' rastafarians, and, like St. Nic's "...and to all a good night", declared "Your taste in music's all right!".
I was taken to a nice little chill out area, given some munchies, and, like a geisha at the end of entertaining, obligated to return my clothing and make myself presentable for the next encounter. A kind yet resistant Irish lass, we'll call her Lassie, refused me pain killers but jovially arranged my follow-up visit.
Over the next hour my Twilight waned in reverse, back into the unforgiving Australian Sun. I headed straight for the insurance office, hoping for whatever sympathy I can get with my oversized bandage. When it comes to getting paid back by an industry who cheats the sick for profit, everything counts.
Since a delivery by the Mother of Fox, I've been eating Codeine like SweetTarts and wondering why Australian health care has to be so hard core!? No pain killers? Who are these blokes? Well if one thing can be said of Australians, they are certainly fun. I enjoyed the procedure. The pain afterwards is another story. Away from ignorant bliss and back to happy reality.
With my new friends Dr. Feelgood, Dr. Rasta, and Dr. Zissou I learned three important lessons. Don't let life's pains get you down, avoid stress with some relaxing music, and, when given the opportunity, explore a new friendship with someone who could have otherwise remained anonymous.
the author, pictured with a hole in his head