On Thursday afternoon I got to see my surgeon again. This was essentially a last chance for me to ask any questions that I might have about my coming operation. But of course, there wasn’t much more to discuss. We planned all the things we were going to try, and the order we would try them over a year ago. We’re just executing the plan we made then. There are no other options left for me to try now, so it’s really just a case of turning up and getting on with it.
But it did give my surgeon an opportunity to get my consent for the operation. I’ve done lots of these; it’s a large A3 form, in carbon-copy triplicate, full of pro-forma small print, with some spaces where the surgeon details what he is planning to do to me, what the outcome will hopefully be, and what might go wrong. We both get to sign and date it.
The thing that gave me pause this time was the “what might go wrong” section, especially as my surgeon expanded on the written details to explain in more detail what he actually meant by some of the rather brief phrases. Of course, I know that the nature of informed consent is that he must tell me about all the possibilities, even when they’re very remote. But even so, it was sobering to see things like “Death”, “Nephrectomy” (removal of a kidney), “Haemorrhaging”, “Sepsis”, “Loss of sexual function”, “Loss of bladder control” actually written down on the form. For once I find myself rather wishing I didn’t know about any of that stuff – I’d prefer someone to just reassure me that it will all be OK.
Ah well. Too late now; you can’t take knowledge away. So we signed the form and talked about our kids. As you do.