Easter memories

On the subject of the extended Norwegian Easter hols, a couple of today’s news headlines brought back my own nightmare version of a traditional Easter ‘break’, and reinforces my preference for being one of the quiet celebration at home segment.

Not quite murder and skiing, but medical mayhem. And skiing in my case, though not the headlines.

“Woke up without nipples” screams one hospital-related headline today, sourced from the Trondheim daily Adresseavisen, but a sure-fire click-winner on most news sites here. This story was almost as messy as it sounds. Or maybe at least as messy.

A woman with a genetic disposition for breast and ovary cancer decided on pre-emptive surgery, and the second part of the procedure was the removal of all glandular tissue in her breasts, followed by reconstruction. What followed is an incredible sequence of miscommunication or medical arrogance.

The plastic surgery ward at St. Olav’s Hospital warned the woman against keeping her nipples due to the danger of cancer, but she insisted. The operation resulted in the removal of her nipples, and the insertion of smaller implants than requested. These had to be removed because the result was ‘asymmetrical’, and in the reoperation she again received smaller implants than desired.

Her wishes were consistently overruled due to the assessments of the surgeons, but she seems never have to been informed about these decisions, simply awakening to each new surprise. The head of the surgical division has admitted that the situation was unfortunate and that better communication practices are being put into place.

In the meantime, medical authorities have rejected the woman’s demands that she receive the implants she originally requested on the grounds that this operation no longer qualifies as a necessary health measure.

In Vest-Agder County an intern has been reprimanded for unacceptable behavior after derogatory comments about a woman in a coma, but who managed to hear every word.

Newspaper Agderposten reports that the surgical intern made a series of comments about how ugly the woman’s teeth were, even asking a nurse to have a look. When the nurse stated that such remarks were disrespectful, the intern replied: “She can’t hear a thing, she’s lying there like a vegetable.”

I have to confess that my few encounters with what I am sure is generally a wonderful health and medical system, have left me a bit uneasy. One Easter, having hit a hole in the snow while skiing downhill that caused me to whip around with my knee as axis, I found myself waiting assessment of the damage.

The doctor who eventually came in looked down, twisted my knee in his hands and said: “That’s where it hurts, right?” (He was indeed correct.) He then told me that this ligament damage used to get an operation, but now time was considered medication enough, and that I could purchase a pair of crutches on the way out. He then left the room muttering about tourist skiers.

Can’t say I’m a fan of the really traditional Norwegian Easter.

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