This journal is from Martin's POV and starts with Martin in surgery just as the phobia overtakes his life. Read on and enjoy.
March 8, 2004
I woke up this morning and my head aches. It still hurts despite all the analgesia prescription and over the counter that I have used within the past twenty four hours. I looked in the mirror and there is a ghastly bruise on my cheek with a black or more like purple eye. Seeing my mangled face made the memory of my head meeting the operating theatre floor come flooding back.
Yesterday began like any other day until I saw hard floor hurling toward my forehead. I got up as usual and prepared to make my way to the hospital. I was scheduled to do an open abdominal aortic aneurism repair. It is a procedure I have done hundreds of times. I could do it in my sleep. I felt perfectly normal getting frustrated with the London traffic.
On my way to the operating theatre, I was on my usual strict schedule. In my blur of motion I spotted my patients wife in the waiting area. I had already explained the procedure to her last evening ad nauseum! I saw no need to go into it again. I deliberately avoided eye contact. I soon heard a shrill shriek of "Doctor!" as I walked briskly by her. I refuse to answer to just Doctor. There were other Doctors whisking past me. One cannot be sure which Doctor one wants when a person does not specify! Just as I thought I was out of ear shot she threw in Ellingham. DAMN! I had no choice but to stop and talk to this hysterical woman.
She ran hysterically to me and literally clawed at me. I tried to calmly tell her that the procedure hadn't changed overnight. Then Dear God the tears started! I finally told her that the longer she kept me detained the longer it would take me to reach her husband on the operating table. This caused her to back away from me with a very cold stare.
I finally made it to the operating theatre without further detainment. The usual pre-operative procedure went smoothly. I assembled my operative team with the usual assembly line like precision. The patient was marked, prepped, and ready to cut.
This is where my day took a most bizarre twist. I picked up the scalpel in my right hand and looked at the patients exposed abdomen. I carefully made a midline incision and the normal minimal blood loss occurred.
I suddenly felt cold and clammy and out of my body. The room around me became blurry and spun out of control. I could hear blurry blended voices but I couldn't place them. I could hear my name yelled out. I wanted to say something anything but alas my voice caught in my throat. The last thing I remember was the hard floor hurling towards me followed by blackness.
Next thing I knew I woke up in accident and emergency. At times A and E is filled with bumbling first year house officers. I'm afraid my visit was no exception. I was getting very frustrated with the ineptitude of the house officers. To make the situation even worse some of my former house officers were on duty. Obviously they did not learn from my teaching while on my team! One of my former officers responded to my presence with a shocked, "Dr. Ellingham, what are you doing here?" I cut him down to size by saying "What am I doing here? What do think I'm doing here? I had an accident! I do not take pleasure in just visiting A and E to witness your ineptitude! I would have thought that my mangled face would have tipped you off!" His intelligent response was "AH AH AH, yes Dr. Ellingham sir!"
Much to my horror I had visitors in A and E. Of course, word spread around like wildfire. Doctor Edith Montgomery had the nerve to pay me a visit. She actually had the nerve to ask me what happened. She acted as though I planned this! I angrily replied, "How the devil should I know what happened! I did not wake up this morning thinking it would be brilliant fun to have a date between my head and the theatre floor. I did not actually plan to knock myself senseless in the middle of surgery! Where have I heard those words before? Oh I remember you told me that you didn't 'plan' to be fall for little house officer on my team shortly after we became engaged!" She stormed out in response. I won because I wanted to get rid of her anyway.
Once they were sure I had suffered no head or brain trauma I was released from A and E. My pride, reputation, and position have been damaged more than half of my face. The truth is I couldn't wait to get out of there. I was tired of so called well-wishers that were just dripping phony concern. At that point I was ready to strangle the next visitor that asked "What Happened?" I suppose if there is going to be strangulation in the hospital A and E is the best place for it!
Well now I must go and wait for the inevitable calls to come in. In the meantime I'm going to apply ice to my mangled right face and take some of the analgesics from A and E to relieve my blistering headache.