I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice. ~excerpt from the Hippocratic Oath
Danny Jenkins could not shield his discomfort. Lying on the gurney in the hospital hallway was exacerbating, even more so considering the paper-thin sheet was barely enough to disguise his torso from the sight line of people passing by. His Intravenous line had almost been yanked out of his skin several times as crash carts and trauma teams raced to the Emergency room. He was living in his own personal Hell.
Danny hated hospitals. The mere fact that he agreed to this procedure was beyond his realm of comprehension but it was time to face reality. At his last weigh in he had tipped the scales at 468 pounds and it was time to get his life back. His doctor had pleaded with him to consider Gastric Bypass surgery and he knew it was the only way to forge ahead into the life he dreamed for himself.
After what seemed like an eternity, Danny was wheeled from the hallway into the operating room. Faceless doctors and nurses shrouded by masks performed their macabre pre-surgery dance around him as monitors came to life and created a sinister orchestra of metallic sounds. Voices abraded his ears as they went step by step through the procedure that was about to take place but Danny paid no attention. He didn’t care. He just wanted to go to sleep and wake up to his new beginning. A warm sensation began to flood his veins and Danny slowly slipped into a reversible loss of consciousness.
He could hear the pinging of the machines as his eyelids fluttered open and the recovery room slowly swam into focus. He anticipated mild to moderate discomfort in his abdominal cavity but he felt none. The anesthesia must have been a more potent cocktail than he imagined. He tried to adjust his position on the bed, fully expecting his stomach to refuse any agitation, and the movement was somewhat fluid and manageable. Strangely, there was no soreness at all.
The call button hung lifelessly on the bed rail and he repeatedly pushed the button until a nurse entered the room. Before even engaging Danny in post-surgery banter she glanced at his hospital wrist-band, diligently checked all of the monitors and made notes in the chart that hung from the foot of his bed. She lifted the bedding from the bottom of the bed, inexplicably checked his legs and tenderly replaced the covers.
“How are you feeling?”, she finally asked.
Danny spoke through his dry mouth, “I thought this would feel much worse.”
Her response baffled him. ”You will think you can feel your toes for a while. They call it phantom pain.”
His look of complete bewilderment took her by surprise. She guessed his silence was just his way of processing his loss. She regarded the monitors one more time before leaving with the promise of returning with ice chips.
As the anesthesia began to clear his system he began to feel the after effects of the four-hour surgical procedure. He could feel the dull ache beginning to throb but the pain was coming from his knee. More than slightly disconcerted he reached for the call button once again. This time a doctor entered and performed the same ritual with the monitors before beginning his communication. Immersed in the chart in front of him, he absently began to speak.
“Okay Ms. Jenkins. The procedure went extremely well and the lower part of your right leg was successfully amputated. You will feel some discomfort but you have the ability to give yourself a dose of morphine……”. His voice trailed off as he lifted his head and his vision of the patient in front of him finally swam into focus. He looked directly at Danny and immediately re-examined the chart in front of him. The doctor said nothing more.
Danny finally spoke, ”Did you just call me ‘Miss’ Jenkins?”
“Would you excuse me for just a moment?”, the doctor’s words were rushed as he left the room. Danny incessantly pushed the call button with no response.
The doctor’s footsteps echoed through the hallway as he raced to the operating room. As he pushed the doors open and entered the sterile room all eyes turned and fell heavily upon him. Ms. Dani Jenkins lay sedated and poised for Gastric Bypass surgery. Not one medical practitioner had commented on the unnecessary procedure but merely followed the direction on the chart – the wrong chart.
His words reverberated in the surgical chamber, “Look very closely at that medical chart. You were about to make the second biggest mistake in the history of this hospital.”