Choosing Anaesthesia

Once in a while I join the tens of thousands of commuters for whom the daily grind into central London is part of their weekly routine. We live near the end loop of the central line rail track, the connecting loop between Hainault and Woodford, the two lines into which the central line divides as it comes to the end of it’s journey. The trains or rather tubes as we call our underground trains are not that frequent on this section of the connection compared to the main section. A quick google search tells me the train times and a short walk from home and I am at the station with a minute to spare.

Today I’m travelling to London to attend a study day at the Association of Anaesthetists.

The train arrives on time and I get a seat and settle in. It is peak time and soon the carriages are full. Most people have their heads in their phones, either checking messages or reading some book or the news. Some are reading the free ‘Metro’ newspaper. I doze off as I try to concentrate on my digital newspaper. In less than an hour I reach Oxford Circus station with plenty of time to spare. The Association building is about 10 minutes walk from the station. The AAGBI crest with it’s logo ‘in somno securitas’ (safe in sleep) on the door, reassures me that I’m in the right place.

A leisurely tea and registration later, it is time to attend the lectures. There is a museum of old anaesthetic equipment in the basement of the building. It was in the year 1846 that the first anaesthetic was administered. First in Boston (USA) and it was soon followed by a demonstration in London. The vaporisers used to administer ether and chloroform all form part of the exhibition.

My first full time job in the U.K. was as a senior house officer in anaesthetics in Sidcup, where Sir Ivan Magill used to work. Sir Magill was famous for his innovations and was also one of the founders of the Association of Anaesthetists. His innovations include endotracheal tubes, Magill’s forceps, anaesthetic circuits, laryngoscopes and the list goes on. One of the operating department practitioners showed me a bag full of old anaesthetic equipment from Sir Magill’s time when I was on duty there one night.

When I first started working in anaesthesia, my plan was to do a year, get the diploma and then move on to do obstetrics and gynaecology. The Dean at the RCOG advised me to do a year in a different specialty before taking up Obstetrics and Gynaecology full time.

That night my interest in anaesthesia was ignited. I felt privileged working in a hospital where anaesthetic history was created. I can still remember the joy as I rifled through the old rusty equipments. Thirty one years on and I think I made the right choice that night.

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