Gas Man by Colin Black

Gas Man by Colin Black

Author:Colin Black [Black, Colin]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 2021-07-14T09:46:51+00:00

156 – Have You Seen This Dog?

After I explain to both child and parents the process of anaesthesia and what to expect out of their experience on the big day of surgery, I ask if they have questions. More often than not, parents will have a query or two that can be easily answered. It’s rare that parents have a question that I struggle to answer. Regularly, though, the inquisitive nature of kids leads to some questions that are nearly impossible to answer, most of which aren’t remotely related to anaesthesia. I assume that some questions are repeats of those either avoided by parents or unanswered to the level of satisfaction of a seven-year-old. The best questions come from five- to ten-year-olds. A smart child usually seizes the open mike opportunity I present to hit me, another unsuspecting adult, with some of the hard-hitting issues discussed in the primary school playground.

‘Why is the sky blue?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Do you think Ironman lives in Dublin?’

‘Probably in a mansion in Dalkey, yes.’

‘My friend Amy doesn’t like this hairband. Do you like this hairband?’

‘Eh, yeah! Amy sounds like a complete bitch.’

OK maybe not, but you get the idea.

I got a toughie today:

‘Is Max in this hospital?’

‘I’m not sure. Is Max one of your friends?’

‘No, he’s our dog!’

I don’t like where this is going. I glance at the parents, who glare deep into my soul with frosty eyes.

‘I’m afraid we don’t have dogs in this hospital.’

‘He’s been in the hospital for ages.’

‘Your parents are lying to you, just like mine lied to me. Our dog, Patch, went to the farm and never came back. I suspect poor Max will be in the hospital forever. Never trust an adult, little one.’

As much as I wanted to tell the truth and expose the parents as unadulterated liars, I refrained. I was happy when Mum interjected and steered the conversation away from poor, clearly deceased and never-to-return Max.

The kids over ten start to get more serious. I like getting asked sensible questions by patients. If my life were in the hands of someone I had just met and in a field in which I had no experience, I too would ask some real thinkers. The best question I was asked was by a young teenage girl in London. She asked me, ‘How are you going to make sure you don’t kill me?’

To give this question some context, I was due to anaesthetise this girl for a heart transplant. Only two weeks prior, she had been due to have elective minor surgery in a different hospital. She was thought to be an otherwise healthy young teenager. Following a standard induction of anaesthesia, she had a cardiac arrest. She was effectively dead for 15 minutes while she was resuscitated but, obviously, the outcome was good. Due to the skills of those resuscitating her, she regained consciousness with no apparent neurological injury. The cause of this cardiac arrest was an undiagnosed cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle). Her heart was on its last legs and she was referred for a heart transplant.


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