“You’ll like this one”

August 16, 2012

When I was a junior anaesthetist in the dim and distant past, there was no European Working Time Directive or any shit like that. We worked for as long as we were needed. My rota was technically a one in three, but it always works out a bit worse than that becuase you have to cover each others holiday and study leave.

So one in three means that you work every day Monday to Friday as normal – technically described as 8 hours a day but for anaesthetics morning lists usually start at 830 so you would have to be in setting up by 810. Assuming you had managed to see all your patients for today’s list last night. If not, then you’d need another hour or so to check them out before coming to theatre and preparing for your day ahead. Afternoon lists finish around 5 usually, but obviously this can vary enormously depending how things go. And you can’t just ‘clock off’ and leave your patient unattended.

After the surgeon has finished though, you can’t waltz off as you have to take the patient to recovery and wait for them to be well enough to go back to the ward before you can scoot. And then you have to go see the patients for the next day’s list. So that’s routine Monday to Friday. On top of that, for a one in three you work every third night (all night) and every third weekend. So if you were working Tuesday night you’d come in to work Tuesday morning say 730, work all day, work all evening, work all night. Hope to snatch a few hours sleep but no guarantees. Then straight to work Wednesday morning and afternoon until home time hopefully about 6 pm. Depending how busy you’d been overnight it could be OK or complete shit.

But it was the weekends that got me. You’ve worked all week (including Tuesday night), and then Friday 6pm everyone else buggers off home except for those of you on call. And you will be there working or waiting to be called to work, until Monday evening. Friday morning straight through till Monday evening, snatching sleep where you can. In crappy little on call rooms.

Saturday nights would usually be livened up with car crashes, drunken fights and emergency stuff like that which would be interesting and  challenging. At some point there would be Emergency Caesarian sections. Or epidurals if you were covering labour ward. Sunday afternoons often quiet. Desperate times in soulless hospital messes with no sky TV or DVDs or computers to while away the hours. And often I’d be studying for postgraduate exams so time would be spent poring over textbooks if not actually anaesthetising.  The anaesthetic co-ordinator would try to make sure Sunday evening/night was quiet – trying to defer cases if at all possible until the follwing day. But sometimes of course things just can’t wait.

As was the case this particular sunday night where I had had one hell of a weekend. Stabbings a go-go and lots of other operations. But I had gone to bed about 1 am. Shattered. When the co-ordinator  rang at 3 am I took a while to stir out of my coma. I was near to tears with fatigue. “No Sarah, you’ll like this one I promise you”. I had no idea what he meant but got back in my scrubs and went to theatre. To be met by the ODA (brilliant folk who help in theatre) smiling at me whilst he checked the details of the male patient lying on the trolley between us.

As it happens I remember the patient’s name as it is a diminutive for penis so I also thought it was funny. Anyway, I picked up the notes and started talking to the patient when I heard a noise. A faint buzzing sound. “What’s that noise Mark?” I asked the ODA. He choked, unable to speak and turned away.

And then I opened the notes and saw the consent form “Removal of vibrator”.

“Do you want to tell me what happened?” I asked. Apparently this was his best dildo and he was having such a good time he simply let go and then couldn’t get it back. His friend had tried too but no luck. Then a doctor in casualty had tried to no avail. So here he was, waiting for a surgeon to try.

I put him to sleep and as he drifted off he frantically asked “You will let me have it back won’t you?”

I pulled back the covers and there he was. Looking like nothing was wrong.  Lovely flat tummy.But then when you looked closely, you could see his tummy wall was vibrating as the vibrator  pushed it’s way further up the colon. The surgeon tried initially with long forceps but couldn’t get a decent grip so he ended up opening his tummy and squeezing it down and out through the anus. It was fucking enormous. At least a foot long. Even the Duracells had given up by the time it was removed.  But it stood up proud on its end -pale pink and glorious as I took him in to recovery.

The co-odinator was right. Of all the cases to have to get up for at 3 am on a Sunday, that was one I did like. It had been fun. But probably not as much fun as the guy had had who got us there.


One Response to ““You’ll like this one””

  1. […] when I had come in – it may even have been the infamous weekend that involved the stuck vibrator – and I was very tired. As the anaesthetist I would sit or stand at the head end of the patient; […]

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