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MORPHINE MAN 09-12-2005 12:50 AM

I joined ADR Support several months ago but, I've been out of touch. This has got to be one of the strangest stories you guys have heard lately. "PLEASE" I'd like to hear from some of you especialy if someone has heard of anything similar!!!Sorry, I've been out of the loop here on ADR Support for a long while but, I'm back with some news. I have been approved by my Insurance carrier for full100% coverage for an artificial disc replacement in my L5/S1 region. It took six months of countless letters, emails, phone calls etc. Finaly on the 12th of August I received a phone call authorizing full insurance coverage for the proceedure (100%) needless to say, I was floored!!!!. I called Southeastern Spine Institute in Mt Pleasant, SC where my Dr's office is. It is located next door to East Cooper Hospital which is where the surgery is actualy done. My Surgeon is, according to everything I've read & heard is one of the best in the Nation at this proceedure. I called them with the great news & they said as soon as I received the official authorization letter to fax it & the surgery would be scheduled ASAP.
Needless to say I was extatic & when the actual letter arrived two days later I called to schedule the ADR proceedure. The surgery was scheduled for 1 on 08/26/05. I went to East Cooper Hospital on the 25th for initial blood work & pre admittion & after about two hours was set for surgery the next day. I was told to arrive at 11:00AM to get ready. I couldn't sleep at all that night & my wife along with about a dozen family members were all at my house early Friday morning the morning of the surgery. At about 10:30 we were litteraly packed & walking out of the door for the five minute drive to the Hospital when the phone rang. It was the Surgeon's nurse. I answered the phone & she told me not to worry about comming to the Hospital, that it had been cancled. I was floored, litteraly, I could not beleive what I was hearing. After waiting for this surgery for nearly two years & all of the beauratratic BS I'd been through to get a call like that litteraly 25 minutes prior to the time I was supposed to be lying in a bed at the Hospital I nearly passed out!. The phone was on speaker & my wife asked what in the hell happened that we only had a 25 minute notice. The nurse said that if that attitude continued she would just hang up!. It turned out that the pain managment specialist that my surgeon had me seeing for the past four months was in the national Guard & had been called to Iraq. This was not news to me because I go there every 30 days for refills on my pain meds. He had been gone for about two months & his partner that I had been seeing no longer makes Hospital calls. Dr Don Johnson, my surgeon was unaware of this untill 30 minutes prior to my scheduled Hospital arrival. Dr Johnson's nurse, Karen Blakley, the one that called to cancle said she had just found out at 10:15 that morning. After plenty of begging, pleading crying etc. she said there was absoutely no way the surgery would take place today or anyother day for that matter without a pain managment specialist to follow me through surgery & maintain my pain managment through my Hospital stay. It is the contention of Dr Johnson that I am on so much pain meds that the surgery could kill me without the properly trained pain managment specialist to follow every step of my proceedure. The Dr that is standing in for my pain managment specialist while he is in Iraq is the one that has been filling my meds. He said that i was on what he would consider a higher than normal amount of Morphine but, nothing that would prevent my surgery. I begged him to follow my surgery & he explained that he retired from East Cooper two years ago due to heart trouble & he would not go back for anyone & he appologised, which I can understand. What I cannot understand is why my surgery was scheduled in the 1st place to allow me to get my hopes up & do pre admission & so on & so on & so on!!!! We had six family members that had flown in from other states, my wife had taken vacation time. I was so mad that we got in the car & drove to the hospital anyway just as scheduled. We arrived at 10:57AM & I showed the nurse at the admissions desk my wrist bamnd from being pre admitted. She looked but, copuldn't find the paper work. I acted as if I knew nothing different & asked for someone to have my surgeon come out to explain why I could not get my much needed, hard faught for, much anticipated surgery. in just a matter of moments the two nurses that are in charge of the surgery center came out to explain what I had been explained about twenty minutes earlier. They explained that Dr Johnson was in surgery & couldn't come out. I asked why he couldn't do my surgery if he was steadily doing one right after the other. Then the nurse that had called me walked into the room through the swingimg doors & saw me & immeadiately spun around as if to act like she hadn't seen me. I called out her neme & she came over & said"I don't know what you are doing here, I told you that you will not get your surgery today period." I asked that if I could locate a pain managment specialist myself would they still do the proceedure a PA came into the room at the same time the nurse Karen did & he said that DR Johnson felt terrible about the mix-up & he would do whatever he could to help. The PA went into the O/R & came back & said that Dr Johnson would do the operation just as soon as I could find a pain managment specialist to follow me through my hospital stay & keep my pain in check. WE thanked them & went back home & called every Dr in the phone book that is a pain mgt specialist. We could not find one single one!!!! WE are in a fairly large city,, Charleston, SC which has MUSC-Medical University Of Charleston along with five other large hospitals. Later that day Dr Johnson called me himself & personaly appoligised to me for what happened. he said that he will have his staff try to locate a pain mgt specialist for me & as soon as he finds one he is ready to proceed. he also said that he is a teaching physician at MUSC & knows most DR's in the area & that we will most likely have to wait for my regular DR to return from Iraq. He is scheduled to return in November but, we all know how that is subject to go when dealing with the military. Does this sound reasonable that I now have to wait for who knows how long to get my surgery after going through litteral hell just to get the approval. The Ins. has already written me a letter asking why my scheduled surgery didn't proceed as scheduled & that if I don't have it soon then I will have to get a new letter of approval. To say I'm frustrated is an understatement. If anyone has any suggestions please, please, let me know! I have 100% approval & still can't get the surgery. The dr that is standing in for my pain dr says that my current meds are not that high & he doesn't understand the big deal!!! I take "AVINZA" 120MG 1 PER DAY ( THATS MORPHINE) & I TAKE ANOTHER 4 MORPHINE TABLETS DAILY 15 MG EACH. TOTAL 180 MG OF MORPHINE DAILY??? CAN ANYONE HELP BESIDES THE ONE DR THAT IS IN IRAQ? What would happen if, God forbid, he never made it back home???

Totaly frustrated

ans 09-12-2005 12:58 AM


You got burned and I'd want to horsewhip (methaphorically) that nurse re: "now be nice", etc.'re up against the wall.

Can you see another Great Doctor elsewhere. I'm in LA and there's several top surgeons whom I'd feel comfortable with. And also, the quality of the vascular surgeon is impt. Too bad your PM doc is gone; he sounded cool. And I hope he comes back fully intact.

Best, Allan

spotty14 09-12-2005 02:12 AM

Im sorry that your in this awful situation. The hospital/surgeon's office screwed up big time. This just sounds nuts to me. I haven't had surgery yet but didn't know it's a requirement to necessarily have the pain specialist that usually treats you. Is this just the requirement of this surgeon or the hospital's policy?

First of all, I would suggest writing to Hospital Administration/surgeon's office with the information you just provided in your post, and copying the letter to the insurance company so your authorization for surgery doesn't expire or is extended without additional paperwork. Then I'd find out why the pain management specialist on staff at the hospital can't manage your meds while in the hospital. I don't even have a pain management doctor - does that I mean I'd need to get one before having surgery?

You can always complain to what ever regulatory agency survey's the hospital or the doctor. In any case, I'd be demanding another surgery date right away especially after all you've gone through. I hope you do get answers soon.

09-12-2005 02:33 AM

Very sorry to hear about your situation. The
nurse should have been much more apologetic and understanding.

MORPHINE MAN 09-12-2005 02:35 AM

From what I'm told & read the proceedure does not require a pain managment specialist to do this proceedure. In fact my surgeon does on average about 4 ADR'S per week & his staff does the pain mgnt. It's my understanding that according to my surgeon I'm on such a high dose of Morphine pre opp, that in order to give me enough medication post opp for me to be able to tolerate the pain they would need to increase my medication to a lethal dose?? Then the "Specialist" (PM) says he doesn't think I'm on that much Morphine & he is being parinoid. The PM assistant says he can manage my pain post opp with no problem. Only he's retired & just filling in for the Dr while he's in Iraq. The Surgeon thinks he would have to give me so much pain med post opp to control the pain that it would or could stop my respritory system. personaly I don't feel like I'm on much pain meds now. I take my recommended dose & go about my business & no one even knows I'm taking medication. No drowsiness or any side effects. Is there anyone out there taking as much or more that has had this surgery? I take 4 MSIR ( MORPHINE ) 15 mg daily along with one "AVINZA"120mg ( THAT'S ALSO mORPHINE) TOTAL 180 mg DAILY...iS THAT TOO MUCH FOR A SAFE SURGERY RECOVERY & STILL HANDLE MY POST OPP PAIN?

MORPHINE MAN 09-12-2005 02:56 AM

You are 100% right about the Nurse. I found out later on the same day the surgery was cancled that she called my PM dr's office for a consult to inform them of the upcomming surgery on Thursday at 3:Pm. She told me & her boss my Surgeon & everyone else that she found out twneny minutes prior to my arrival at the Hospital. When I told her that both nurses at the Pain Managment center confirmed that she knew the day before she called them liars. Later that afternoon when my surgeon phoned me to personaly appologise for the mix-up I told him of hre knowledge the day before. He didn't say anything about it but, I can't imagine he was very pleased either because he had to block time for the surgery for himself, the vascular surgeon, anesthegeoligist & assistants & there was no surgery to take place. I called her office this week, Monday to see if there had been any changes & the first thing she said to me was I don't appreaciate being called a liar, now how can I help you? Can you say Attitude??? I'm the one that should have the attitude. Had she told us the day before we could have prevented two plane flights if nothing else. I own a business myself & would never treat or speak to a customer like that. Like I said, my ins. is paying 100% of a proceedure that is over $110,000.00. At this point with all I've been through I just want my surgery. I have a wonderfull family & I need & want to spend good quality time with them. I'm almost 50 yrs. old with an absoutley beautifull 29 year old wife & a seven year old son. It's very difficult to be the type of Father & Husband they deserve. I just pray that something good will happen soon.

Alastair 09-12-2005 04:48 AM

Hi Harleys Dad,
well I can send my sympathies to you from the UK -- -- -- we actually get people on the trolley and waiting to go into the operating theatre and this sort of thing happens to them. I call it a form of mental torture.

It's obviously total confusion with the organisation by the people who did it.

It sounds as if you're being a little bit hard on the nurse who was only the messenger. You know what we say "Don't Shoot the Messenger".

I have got to believe that your surgery will go ahead in the next two to three weeks. It's a dreadful experience and I do sympathise.

cervie queen 09-13-2005 01:11 AM

I actually arrived at the hospital for my surgery and I live only 10 minutes away. that's when I found out the surgery had been cancelled. My neurosurgeon had to do an emergency Brain surgery, and like it or not, my four level fusion was an elective surgery. what made me the most sad was my daughter had taken off from work and flown down from Oregon. It got scheduled a week later on a Saturday.

MORPHINE MAN 09-13-2005 03:16 AM

cervie queen
I'm sorry to hear of your delay & I'll pray for you that all is well. Good luck & God Bless!!!

cervie queen 09-13-2005 02:06 PM

That was six years ago. I'm over it. Sorry you had to deal with rudeness on top of it all. That's the hardest part.

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