I didn’t actually set out to write a book for general consumption. I was writing for myself. A career in medicine is anchored by various milestones as you progress through training. I had never taken a second to recognise each point on the journey and being appointed a consultant is probably the last major milestone, asides from retiring! So, for the first time in my life, I chose to keep a diary of the various interesting cases, interactions and discussions that happened to me or I observed in others each day in work, as I started my consultant post.
Amongst the inevitable stories of frustrating illness and recovery it is peppered with ridiculous conversations…
After a couple of months, I began to think that the most important people in the operating theatre, the patients, probably have no idea what happens once they are anaesthetised. Anaesthesia is often the thing a patient is most terrified of. This is probably because you are relinquishing control of your safety, or your child’s safety, to a complete stranger. Not only that, but you are delving into unconsciousness. We, as anaesthetists, are in a very unique position in that regard. So, from there, I decided to use the medium of the diary of a new consultant to explain what the hell anaesthesia even is and what goes on in an operating theatre when you’re asleep.
Don’t let that sombre description put you off, what I really learned is that the hospital, especially a children’s hospital, is one of the funniest and entertaining places to work. Amongst the inevitable stories of frustrating illness and recovery it is peppered with ridiculous conversations and profound social awkwardness. I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Colin Black is a Consultant Paediatric Anaesthesiologist at Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin, specialising in anaesthesia for congenital heart disease.