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"I felt like just another statistic"

About: Alfred Health

(as the patient),

I am an adult in my 20's and had been through two years of constant illness up until the decision to have surgery. My first surgery was as wonderful as surgery could be made - it was done privately and I had a fantastic surgeon and anesthetist. I have a severe phobia of needles and this was alleviated by my anesthetist who made sure no needles came near me before I was under anesthetic. Having been through this great (albeit painful) experience, my family and I thought all was well. On day 10 of recovery, I started bleeding from the operation site. I went to emergency at Sandringham Hospital and was transported to the Alfred Hospital. Here is where my nightmare began.

Having been admitted during the middle of the night, I was settled overnight and the bleeding stopped. I was awoken in the morning not by staff rousing me to discuss the course of treatment further, but by five staff members trying to open my mouth to cauterize my throat. Not one person introduced themselves, told me whether they were nurses, doctors or anyone in between. They were too busy talking to each other to interact with me, the patient. I felt like I was an inanimate object they wished to practice their knowledge on. I actually had to demand that I be told what was going on and what they wanted to do. Not a great way to be woken up.

Then I was told that I would need a second cannula, though they would never actually specify why (and it was never used either). I told them of my fear of needles so they conceded to using laughing gas. That would have been great, had they actually waited for the effects to kick in before putting in the cannula. This second cannula caused me a lot of pain over the next couple of days and I couldn't use my arm but my complaints were ignored and put down to me being over-dramatic. I think the fact that I was fine with the other one and able to use that arm should have been an indication that perhaps there was something to my story.

Day two I woke up with more bleeding, so the doctor decided that I needed a second surgery. He was very pushy in trying to make me sign documentation that I was uncomfortable signing without consulting my family. As I was trying to read the paperwork he kept interrupting to tell me it was all standard stuff and just to sign it. These sorts of things might be everyday occurrences to some people, but to me this was a whole lot of firsts so I wanted to ensure I was making an informed decision. He didn't want to allow me that courtesy.

Not once leading up to the surgery that day did he do anything to try to alleviate my fears. Every time I questioned the necessity of a second surgery and tried to have a conversation about it, he basically told me that he was the doctor and therefore if he said it was necessary then I must believe him. I must say that the nursing staff were wonderful and that was one saving grace. Overall I felt like just another statistic and a pincushion, not at all like a human being.

To add insult to injury, when I was first being admitted I was asked my personal details, including my religion. When I stated that I had alternate beliefs, they laughed at me. I confirmed that I was serious and was laughed at again. I found that to be extremely inappropriate, rude, insulting and insensitive.

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