An Anesthetist’s Diary
Anesthetists in those early days faced many situations that don’t exist today, thanks to development of safer techniques and equipment. Waking Up’s diary entries give us a chance to vicariously experience some of these difficult situations.
The story begins in 1972 as Emily, the anesthetist on call, awakens from a sound sleep and dashes to resuscitate a man in the Accident Ward. It is her boss, the Chief of Anesthesia, and he dies. The balance of power changes in the Operating room. A horrible conflict occurs between her and the new Chief, Doctor Panute and something unthinkable happens.
In the meantime, Emily is raising three children on her own, and just entering the dating scene after her husband left her. A desperate call from her former husband breaks up her budding romance with a Marine, but she has to offer to help him. Paul has malignant melanoma. He has surgery at her hospital, and it does not go well.
Her brother Jason seems to have gotten into a cult, so Emily travels into the mountains to rescue him. She has an experience of total ecstasy there, but blames it on their family’s history of mental illness.
Her anesthesia career careens when Emily makes a big mistake. She almost quits, but her brother at the ashram talks her out of it. She begins to chant every day. More and more, her meditation is giving her insights. One night after doing anesthesia for three craniotomies, Emily has a big surprise.
And then there’s the tractor trailer truck…