Pique n' your interest 

As sick as a Mitchell

I’m on a first name basis with the personal assistant of my Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, but that’s nothing to brag about – according to her business card she only has one name, like Madonna or Newman on Seinfeld. Farzana recognizes my name as well, probably because I have been calling her regularly for the past sixth months to find out if her office has a surgery date for me yet.

She finally came through for me this week when she informed me at last that I would be able to get in for an operation on June 11, less than a month away. It’s going to be a little dangerous, a lot painful, completely uncomfortable and more than a little disgusting for everyone around me, but I’m looking forward to it like it’s a trip to Disneyland. After living with a sinus problems for the past decade, going under the knife next month will be like going for a spin on the teacups – sure, I’ll be a little nauseous at first, but I’ll be richer for the experience.

Because of the Hospital Employees Union strike two weeks ago I might have been pushed back another couple of months – my specialist was hoping to operate last November so I’m already more than six months overdue – but another surgery date was miraculously added to his schedule at the last minute. I was lucky enough to call his office early and get on the list for that day.

Sadly, you did read that last part right – my specialist wanted to operate in November 2003 because my sinus condition was severe, I finally got a date in June 2004 because another surgery date was added out of the blue, and I was just plain lucky to call when I did.

Unfortunately, that’s how it seems to work these days. Maybe in the past the specialist would have done the work for me, putting me on a special list with all the other high priorities and booking me into the next available operating room. Now it’s entirely up to the patient to organize a non life-threatening surgery, mostly because specialists are too busy and receive too little support from the hospitals to properly handle all of their cases.

Most of my specialist’s patients will have to wait more than a year to have their Ear, Nose and Throat procedures, only because those poor, plugged-up bastards are not yet sick enough to qualify for priority treatment. Fortunately for me my condition had worsened to the point where the surgery was no longer voluntary, but urgently required.

How urgent is urgent, you ask? Put it this way – in the last six months I’ve been on antibiotics four times for sinus infections, all of which have spread into my chest resulting in bronchitis, asthma, shortness of breath and an abundance of throat clearing. It is affecting my sleep, my job and my overall health. One of my friends who is sick with a chest cold described the experience as being "as sick as a Mitchell".

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