12 of May is a special day. Sixteen years ago Costas had his heart operation in theatre 9 by JPM. I was feeling ‘under the weather’ that morning (one of those bad nights for no particular reason). Decided to carry on with the scheduled list (first man had been waiting since Aug 21 so I thought at least I need to do his operation): I did it (CABG) followed by urgent sutureless AVR (TAVI turn down)• we had beds that day. Towards the end of the AVR reg on call comes into theatre 9: ‘There is a dissection, 79. He is fit’. Hesham is my anaesthetist, locum newboy but good team player as he proved that day.
I met Paul’s wife at the A+E corridor: The picture of fragility and vulnerability• a little old lady who had brought her husband into hospital, devastating news, this may be it. We talked in a relatives’ room: 50/50 chances. High probability of stroke, uncertain quality of life. Do you think he would want to go ahead? She can’t answer. Paul is in pain his Rt leg is ischaemic, he is in no position to give a history. I ask the A+E doctors to give him some morphine, we are in resusc.
I escort Mrs Routledge to ward 4 relatives’ room. I carry the bag she has brought with her (?a change of clothes for Paul). Paul is brought outside the relatives room ward 4. We are able to have a basic communication: ‘Save my life’ he says when I give him the options. I get his wife to speak to him for one last time before we go to theatre 9.
After a few minutes I’m on my way to theatre 9 and I escort Paul’s wife to the exit. She is going home, no point waiting. I will call her if I need to speak to her… Outside main theatre doors opposite elevators its time to part ways: She gives me her hand and I feel she is transferring her hope and faith to mine. Her eyes plead with me: -Please give me my husband back. -I will do everything in my power, I always do.
We start 20:00 we finish 04:00. Ninad and Ashley and Ella have been with me since 08:00 that 12th of May. Operation went well. I go home I sleep till 07:00 it’s Fri 13 of May. I have a clinic I can’t cancel.
I speak with PK after the clinic on the phone in the car with Sayonara going to Radisson. -I saw your patient this morning he looked very well. Well done. -Thank you for the strategy. I fall asleep in the chair in the hotel lounge next to a glass of beer I haven’t touched. Sayonara takes a picture.
It’s all in the mind. Keep calm and carry on. The body will follow. You’ve worked hard to get to this point: To have the privilege of saving a person’s life. A lot of pressure. Great tension. You can’t lose that thrill: You’re lucky.