the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Talk Talk

My mother had a minor procedure done at NYU hospital yesterday, and she was first aboard with the surgeon, so we had to be there at 6 AM.

When we arrived, we were shuttled into a pre-surgery waiting room where several medical personal, including the nurse, the doctor, the doctor’s assistant, and the anasthesiologist, asked my mother questions, making sure she was in good health. The questions were repetitive and it seemed as every one of the staff asked the exact same questions. Maybe this is how they rationalize the $15,000 price tag for an hour procedure — they ask a lot of questions.

During the interrogation, my mother made the mistake of thinking that the nurse CARED about the details of her life, rather than simply getting the facts to prevent any lawsuits.

“Do you get out of breath when you walk?” asked the nurse “How much can you walk?”

“Oh, I can walk for miles!” answered my mother. “I’ve walked from 14th Street to Central Park! But sometimes, if I’m sitting a long time, like in the subway, it takes me a second to get up. But, knock on wood, everything is fine. The couch in the living room is a little low, making it hard to get up after watching TV if I put my feet up, so I’m thinking of buying a new couch…”

“Mom…” i interrupt. “She just wants to know if you are healthy enough for the surgery today.”

“Oh. Yes.”

The procedure went well and everything is perfectly fine.

Later in the day, I was on Twitter, talking on and on to those who don’t have me blocked, telling strangers the story of my day, and debating important issues such as — whether I’d rather have an dorky older established doctor with a medical degree or a really hot young one like in a TV show. As I typed my run-on sentences, it occurred to me that I’m not that different from my verbose, story-telling mother after all.


  1. kenju

    I have noticed that the multiple-question asking docs and nurses do so because they want to make sure the patient is not confused or addled in some way. It is hard not to get frustrated with them when they keep asking the same things over and over. I hope your mom will recover quickly.

  2. kittenpie

    Totally hear you. I am a rambler, too, and hope it isn’t going to get worse with age…

    (Also, my dad used to be a nurse at that hospital! Trust she is in good hands and hope she’s up and walking miles again in no time – providing she doesn’t have to sit too long first, of course.)

  3. Jennifer

    So if you have to go in for a procedure, just have the docs and nurses follow your Twitter stream. You’ll save a bundle.

  4. Amanda

    We do act as echoes, but I think we bring new color…or off color as the case sometimes is.

  5. Ludicrous Mama

    I accidentally ate a blueberry while in the waiting room before my surgery. (I have a kid. SHE was eating blueberries. But I think nothing of it when she hands me her old masticated food and tells me to eat it.) Oops. I lied and said I hadn’t eaten anything to the first nurse… I admitted it when the anesthesiologist’s assistant came in to grill me. They ended up cancelling my surgery.
    Plus, if the second guy trusts what the first guy wrote down, and the first guy is wrong (or was misinformed or lied to, as in my case) the second guy is still liable. So they do it to cover their own butts too. And to make sure that the file they’re holding actually belongs to the person they’re about to knock out.

  6. Sage

    Having had two surgeries myself, I much prefer older, more experienced hands over a hot doc. at the downtown hospital i went to, it was very much like mcdonalds. fast food, in at 6am out by 11 am. i had more scars from the i.v’s than the surgeries. i let the students practice on me (fail)

  7. sweetsalty kate

    You make me smile. I’m glad your mom’s okay.

  8. Finn

    This is actually a technique that police use to get people to fess up. They’ll ask a question in several different ways. If you always answer the same, you’re telling the truth.

    And, like someone else said, it’s to cover their butts.

    You wouldn’t be you if you kept everything to yourself.

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