Tomorrow is my dad’s surgery to install a shunt to relieve his hydrocephalus. I called my parents tonight to wish him luck with the surgery. Unfortunately, as I feared, I discovered that my attempts to get them to see a neurologist to properly diagnose the problem were ultimately more of a problem than a help.

The problem starts with their misunderstanding of the difference between a neurologist and a neurosurgeon. They seem to think a neurosurgeon is a “super-neurologist” or worse, that they’re like astrologists. Originally, they were happy with the neurologists determination that the neurosurgeon correctly diagnosed the problem as hydrocephalus. But what happened since has changed their minds: 1) the neurologists report wasn’t “much different” than the original report, 2) the neurologist, not being a surgeon, couldn’t explain in detail how the surgery would work and 3) the neurosurgeon (incorrectly) stated that their second (actually, the first true) opinion should have been from a neurosurgeon, not a neurologist.

So it appears that they look at my efforts as a big hassle and “a waste of their time”. Furthermore, my mom made comments indicating that she believes they’re going to have to pay for the 2nd opinion. Why? Because the results weren’t different enough that the insurance company would refuse to pay. Or that their premiums will increase due to my meddling. Knowing my worry-wart mom, she has already had several practice conversations with the insurance company. All in all, I think I added more stress to this process than anything.

Worst of all, they actually apologized to his physician’s nurse. This nurse was so inept at talking to the hospital that I had to call each and every day to get an appointment for him. But because the neurologist didn’t have different news, they apologized to her because I was so unnecessarily difficult! They were relieved when she answered “Oh, it’s no big deal”. Yeah, it was no big deal to you because you didn’t do anything and it’s not your dad getting brain surgery from some small-town Florida surgeon who graduated from a no-name school and doesn’t even have his board-certification!

Moral: You’re far more likely to look like an ass than not when you try to help.

Enough venting. The only important thing is that the surgery goes okay, he recovers okay and his hydrocephalus is kept under control. Good luck, Dad!

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