Imagine a hospital in the high drama style of medical TV: lights race down a long, sterile hallway making the surgery ride agonizingly fast. Gurney wheels squeak as fear drips into your IV. Echoes of pain bounce off the walls and expand just as you begin to choke. You want to change your mind, but you are struggling not to slip into a bloody nightmare. You startle awake to find a big nurse poking you with yet another instrument. This is the average persons fear and therefore, their experience is pre-affected as they head for a hospital and surgery.
Now envision this: Your surgeon strolls into your pre-op room, sits at your bedside and prays with you and your family. Two angels in scrubs introduce themselves to you as a well oiled gurney rolls down a comfortable hallway where you're told you have the right-a-way. You find yourself laughing at their friendly antics as they explain they will be with you the whole time you're in surgery. You find them absolutely strong and likeable and your fear drains away. The prayers of your doctor have soothed your concerns and the last thing you remember is drifting into the anesthesia chuckling with your personal nurses. Surgery has not began and yet, you are already healing.
This is my story and this is the medicinal care I received under Dr. Michael Haglund at the Duke-Raleigh Hospital in Raleigh, NC. Dr. Haglund and his amazing staff reversed the negative affects of fear and created an environment of laughter, confidence and security as I entered the operating room.
Dr. Michael Haglund is a neurosurgeon who performs cervical spine surgery. The atmosphere in which he operates reduces stress and generates a soft pulse of therapeutic care for the soul as well as the cervical spine.
In September, 2009, I checked into the Duke-Raleigh Hospital to undergo cervical spine surgery for the second time. My first surgery was also performed by Dr. Haglund. I returned to Dr. Haglund for the second surgery because of the confirmed success of the first surgery.
One year after my first cervical spine surgery was performed, I was T-boned by a young girl who was distracted. My first concern was for my neck. The following morning I was in the offices of my family doctor. An X-Ray showed that my spinal fusion was still intact. My doctor said, "Whoever did your surgery, did a great job. It is pristine." I was relieved. The girl who hit me was a teenager and I wasn't looking forward to being hurt both for her and for myself. It is my opinion that the high quality work of Dr. Haglund not only benefited me, but also the girl who hit me. Had the surgery been poorly done, both the girl and I would have suffered much more.
A neurologist treating me for migraine headaches also confirmed that the cervical spine fusion that Dr. Haglund performed was "pristine". He was able to view the fusion on MRI films.
My second cervical spine surgery was performed because bone spurs developed below the spinal fusion that were pressing into the nerve tissue. Once again, Dr. Haglund performed surgery with an expertise I have come to appreciate.
My care at Duke-Raleigh Hospital was outstanding. I don't remember my rest being disturbed by pulse readings and pin pricks. What I do remember was the smiles on faces, the warmth with which I was treated and the respect I was given when I had a need or a concern. Each and every time, I was addressed promptly and with an esteem and courtesy that all patients should receive. I recommend Dr. Haglund and his full medical team if you are facing cervical spine surgery. My prayer is that you roll into surgery laughing just as I did.
Duke-Raleigh Hospital is a warm, personal hospital that is smaller, cleaner and more impressive than Duke Medical Center in Durham. The atmosphere supports healing. Staff members are met in one of two ways: smiling or smiling back. The environment is refreshing because no one seems over worked. The attention received is competent, complete and compassionate. Family is treated with the same dignity and respect as the paying patient.
Pre-op registration is smooth, almost effortless . In the main lobby, coffee is available to make waiting comfortable, however, I did not wait more than five to ten minutes. I had just began to sip my coffee when a nurse arrived to guide me through the complete pre-op/registration process. The pre-op registration personnel were proficient at turning monotony into smooth transition. The efficiency of their well planned work reduced anxiety. Three days later, I was back for surgery without hesitation. I had been well prepared.
The day of surgery, everything was ready. Again, the wait was non-existent. Arriving at a private cubby, I received a remote to a television that I wouldn't have time to watch. My family was ushered in to sit with me without my having to ask. We were treated with great dignity and respect.
Duke-Raleigh Hospital provided several memorable moments. The most remarkable occurred when Dr. Michael Haglund walked in. He inquired about how I was feeling and spoke with my family as if they mattered to the process. And then, the amazing happened. The doctor said, "Let's pray." He took my hand like a friend, bowed his head and spoke to God. The memory brings goose pimples. My husband, who is skeptical of everything and everyone, was confident that I was in good hands. Behind the doctor's back, he said, "You will come through this just fine. That is the first surgeon I've met that spoke to God rather than having a God complex." We all felt good that he placed his faith in a higher power. You do not have to be a believer to appreciate the power of positive thought and preparation.
Minutes later, my surgery nurses arrived. These two awesome ladies rolled me down the hallway with ease and laughter. They assured me that they would be with me the whole surgery. The information was comforting. We laughed all the way to the operating room and when I wheeled into what should have been an intimidating room laughing, all the staff present seemed relaxed and appreciative of the skill of these two wonderful ladies. I never even knew the anesthesia was coming. The next thing I knew, I was in my room.
Never have I enjoyed going into surgery so much. During my laughter, I remember thinking how joy and laughter was healing and I felt totally safe and cared for. I wish that I knew the names of these two ladies because I'd write a letter of outstanding conduct that would give them total job security at any hospital they chose to work in. They complete Dr. Haglund's operative team like angels in scrubs.
Throughout my hospital stay, the nurses were obviously the best in the business. Not a single nurse was hurried, harried, gruff, or rude. Each and every person that crossed my path smiled and chatted. No one woke me to stick me. No one was slow when I had a need. Everyone seemed to love their job. I observed them helping each other rather than bickering or complaining against one another. I got caring attention that was healing by the very nature of the devotion. I felt completely cared for by the staff of Dr. Michael Haglund.
Before surgery, I was being hooked up to an IV. Of course, as soon as I was hooked up to all those tubes, I decided I had to urinate. My nurse was unavailable so another nurse took me to the restroom without hesitation or complaint. Then she was so kind as to inform my nurse so I wouldn't have to be catherized. The nurses seemed aware of details and the patient and I am grateful.
I don't remember the recovery room, but I remember arriving at my room and the thoughtful staff already had my family there waiting for me. My room was a private room both times that I had surgery though it was not requested. I am not sure they have double rooms.
The night before I checked out, the radiology staff picked me up for a post-op X-Ray. I should not have been surprised at the professional service the team offered. Again, there were friendly smiles and pleasant small talk that so entertained me that I did not even realize my X-Ray was completed. Not once was I pushed, pulled, or prodded up against a cold machine. It was the first time I have had an X-Ray with such painless ease.
The check-out nurse, Carla Sinclair, is an expert at sending people home from surgery. Perhaps this is one of the highlights of the stay. My husband arrived early to find out what to expect. He needed to be at work. He was fully prepared to leave and return, but Ms. Sinclair made check-out so effortless that there was a low impact on his work day. Carla, thank you. Your efficiency mattered in ways you cannot comprehend without explanation.
And a thank you to the lady that rolled me to the exit door. She was a friendly joy. We weren't sure if my husband knew what door to pick me up at so she kindly pulled out her own cell phone and called him for me.
Other than the prayer prayed over me, God was not mentioned or crammed down my throat, but I was blessed many times that day. I can't help but feel all of it contributed to my quick recovery. Having surgery is never pleasant or easy to plan for, but the Duke-Raleigh Hospital and Dr. Michael Haglund and his staff made the preparation easy and effortless. Without a doubt, I would return to Dr. Haglund's care.