I recently had to undergo surgery myself, an old skiing injury came back to haunt me having previously undergone a ligament reconstruction twelve years ago in my right knee. I had to have an arthroscopy to sort out some badly torn cartilage in my knee which was starting to become painful and limit my sporting activities. They say that every doctor (especially a surgeon!) should experience being a patient several times during their career to remind them of just what it is like to put your trust in others, relinquish control and put yourself in a vulnerable position – whilst this is not something I would wish on my colleagues, it is something I wholeheartedly agree with!
I really started to consider this as I was being taken into the anaesthetic room and I was chatting and joking with the anaesthetist and nurses for those few minutes before being put to sleep. There was a certain irony, that I myself was the operating surgeon in the same operating theatre only five days previously, and one of the nurses who I was chatting to assisted me whilst I was operating those few days before!
Not for one moment did I have any doubt in the trust or confidence I was placing into my colleagues the nurses, and their assistants…but I have the advantage of knowing what goes on, on the other side of those doors…through the anaesthetic room into the operating theatres. For most people, of course, apart from glimpses on television or stories in the newspapers, this is quite an unknown and therefore can be a very daunting prospect to consider. The strange thing about an anaesthetic sleep is that it is almost as if no time has passed, one minute you remember having an oxygen mask being put on your face and the next thing you are in the recovery room as if no time has passed, yet of course several hours have gone by which is most easily brought home when glancing at the clock on the wall, and feeling like someone has stolen several hours of your life!
A glimpse under the blanket, the bandage on my knee and the dull ache coming from it reassured me that something certainly had been done – and I imagine it is much the same for many of the operations I perform; whether it is glimpsing under the covers at the result of a breast augmentation or reduction or waking up with the tightness that some people can experience around their jaws and neck after a face or neck lift. Surgery rarely goes unnoticed as someone wakes up. However, hopefully, as in my case, it is more of a discomfort and ache than pain. I am now well on the road to recovering from my recent surgery and will indeed be back operating myself within a short space of time.
Having placed my full trust and confidence in my surgeon and his team brought home to me the trust my patients put in me day in, day out. This was something I wanted to write a blog about, as I never lose sight of this enormous privilege that is granted to me on a daily basis.