Old folk at lunch

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The laser again

It is a couple of years since my last visit to the laser but last Monday I had to go again. When my skin cancers get too big for excision or freezing, the laser is the last option before a graft.

So about three weeks ago I rang the best dermatological surgeon in Brisbane -- Russell Hills -- and made an appointment to see him a few days later. He agreed that it was laser time and booked me in for the procedure a couple of weeks later. If I had gone through the public hospital system, I would still be waiting for a consultation and the procedure itself would be a year or more off.

As I have had so much dermatological surgery over the years I am a connoisseur of it so when I say that Russell is the best, I am in a position to know. His excisions and joinups are so fine that they heal with maximum rapidity -- which is the main thing from my viewpoint. That skill does however make him much in demand by ladies for their facelifts etc. You can't see the scars where Russell has been.

Anyway I arrived at Northwest Private Hospital at the appointed time in the late afternoon and went through all the introductory bureaucratic procedures that are mandatory these days. I was however at the end of the day's listings so I was the victim of all the prior medical misadventures of the day. Russell's anaesthetist had been much held up by unforeseen circumstances on his morning list (surgery that was more complicated than foreseen and which therefore went on much longer than planned) so I was two hours late going into theatre. Russell came out personally to apologize and explain to me shortly after I arrived, however, so I kept my cool about that. Being treated with courtesy makes a big difference to my responses.

And in theatre I was given only locals at my request so I was awake and alert there. And I had the odd chat and joke with Russell and the nurses while my lesions were being attended to. It was very civilized.

So Brisbane private medicine is a dream as far as treatment of patients is concerned. I guess not all patients are on first-name terms with their surgeon but it can happen for repeat customers like me.

But there is a but. It costs a lot. Not nearly as much as in America but a lot by Australian standards. Russell charges $140 for a consultation versus $40 for a GP consultation and he charged a $850 co-payment for the laser work. The hospital charges were all covered by my insurance.

So if you get an education, work hard and save your money instead of spending it all on beer and cigarettes, you can get the first-class medical service in your declining years that everyone aspires to. I did and I do.

As I sat down to write this little memoir, I was listening to "Goodbye" (from "The White Horse Inn"). Most pleasant. You can see a small picture of the white horse referred to here

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