Anesthetists From HellThursday, August 09, 2007
Of late I have been going twice a week to VGH for physiotherapy on my left elbow. I broke it a couple of months back and I cannot stretch the arm to 180 degrees. I am off by 20 but the good news is that a month ago it was by 30. In order to reduce this difference I must go through agonies where my pleasant physiotherapist (either Steve or Maureen) bend my arm in ways that seem to have been inspired by the techniques of Torquemada and his sponsors, the Catholic Kings. The difference may just lie in Maureen and Steve's smiles. They are genuine. They are trying to help me. After avoiding the hospital for 32 years I wonder if this new frequency spells a trend in my life. If it does it could not happen in a better place. I find the facilities and the people of our local hospital to be professional, efficient and in a positive way, easygoing.
It is easy to contrast it with my one experience with a Mexican Health Service hospital in the late 60s. I went to visit an uncle, Román Forment. He was in a ward with other sick men. I was having a chat with him when a nurse appeared and quite rudely, "I would appreciate some silence as the man in the next bed is dying." If I had been in the place of the dying man I would have died right then and there.
On the other hand, when the morning of my day surgery (a hole was made on my outside left elbow to retrieve and take out a bone chip lodged on the other side) my surgeon asked me which elbow it was and then marked it with a pen I kind of wondered. He was very quick to explain that this simple procedure would help to prevent one of the most common ocurrences in operating tables around the world. This is the operation or the (perhaps?) amputation of the wrong limb.
Until my recent operation the closest I ever got to one was some years ago when I photographed a couple of anesthetists at VGH for an article in the Georgia Straight. I lay on the table with fish-eye equipped camera to take this photograph which to me was a possible nightmare from hell.
Before my operation a month and a half back I told the anesthetist to not put me to sleep. Such was the feeling of lazy euphoria that came over me with his partial application of the tool of his trade, that it ocurred to me that I should book a friendly operating table soon.
An added bonus of that first anesthetist photograph was that I learned to appreciate the excellent use of VGH scrubs as pajamas for going down to the kitchen to look for a bedside snack. By hook or by .... I own three pair of middle blue scrubs that say Property Of Vancouver General Hospital. Someone should market them and sell them in stores.