. Anaesthesia, The Gift of Oblivion, The Mystery of Consciousness . By Kate Cole-Adams . Text Publishing, Melbourne 2017 .
. . It is 7:20 pm on the 5th of August 2017. . I have just hung up the phone following a short conversation with my mother. . I needed to tell her I have just finished reading her book and to thank her profusely for buying it for me despite my initial lack of interest. . A book on anaesthesia. Big deal.
But it was a big deal. Of all the books and journals and articles I have read on anaesthesia over thirty years of anaesthetic and recovery nursing, this is the one which will affect me the most, personally and professionally. . Anaesthetics and Recovery, I have always told my students, is the perfect mix of physiology, pharmacology and psychology. . There is something profound in caring for someone when they are at their most vulnerable. At a time which, for them is a significant life event. . We take them to the very edge of their existence and back again and they watch us with the same eyes as does a novice skydiver watching the person who is folding their parachute. . That an anaesthetic is fraught with danger is no news to us. As anaesthetic nurses we contingency plan each case right down to the Can't Intubate Can't Oxygenate agorithm level. . We understand right down to our very core that each patient is the central focus of our every effort every time. . And yet we can't help being human in a hierarchal multidisciplinary communicative social team. . We talk, we laugh, we comment, we distract ourselves from our task at hand and at times we bully. . In essence, even as we subscribe to perform at the level of a high performance team we cannot help but be human. . We rarely consider the possibility of consciousness under anaesthesia and the effects our behaviour and words may have on ears we didn't know could hear. . We relegate the possibility of awareness under anaesthesia to a 'hardly ever' event, which then allows us to put our heads firmly in the sand. . So how refreshing to hear the tale from another angle, from the angle of a personal journey which has lasted a lifetime and which, because the perspective is untethered from the constraints of professional dogma, allows itself to explore unrepentantly an area we as veterans consider too pernicious to handle. . If everything we thought we knew about the mind, both conscious and subconscious, under anaesthetic was flawed, what then? . Certainly my practice will be influenced by having read this book. . What about yours?