Sunday, May 13, 2012
anaesthetists and surgeons work together quite a bit, but they are very different creatures. sometimes it takes a bit of effort for them to understand each other and get along. some would say it takes effort from pretty much anyone to get along with a surgeon. so it is nice to hear a story occasionally of an anesthetic colleague that is willing to do what is needed to understand and get along with the general surgeon he was working with. these were the observations of a student during his rotation through the anesthetics department.
when the student in question arrived at work, he was quite excited to hear that he was dealt into the emergency theater.
"off you go," said the prof to him, "they are still busy with a trauma case from last night."
when he entered theater it was clear that there had been quite a lot of action. the floor was covered in blood which had been smeared around by the feet of the surgeon and the floor nurse, creating a macabre work of art with bold red strokes of the brush on the canvas which was the floor of theater. against the wall on a rack hung multiple blood soaked swabs, bearing testimony to the battle that had already taken place in that small room. the surgeon was still frantically busy working in the open abdomen, his arms besmirched with dark blood to his elbow. the front of his gown was similarly stained. the student looked around and took in the complete picture of this fight between life and death, yet immediately he noticed something that didn't seem to fit in with the high stress situation that met the astonished student.
off to one side, the anesthetist sat quietly in his chair with his arms folded and a calm expression on his face. he wasn't even looking at the monitor. in fact he sat slightly behind it. from this vantage point he glanced up, greeted the student and offered him a chair. the student sat down wondering at the steel nerve of this anesthetist in the face of such a tense situation.
then an alarm went off on the monitor. the student jumped up to get out of the way as his senior finally moved to see what was happening. but all he did was to turn the alarm off and sit down again. and so the student sat there with him, too nervous to speak and wondered what was going on.
after quite some time the intense concentration of the surgeon was broken. he turned to the anesthetist.
"how are things going up there?" he asked and then as an afterthought added, "the bleeding is now under control."
the anesthetist slowly looked up and spoke for the first time with a wry smile plastered across his face.
"well actually the patient has been dead for quite some time now," he said, "but i know how much you surgeons like to operate and it looked like you were having so much fun, i didn't want to disturb you."