Adventures in Anaesthesia

Time for a fun little story.

When I had my accident I spent nearly 2 months in the tender care of the John Radcliffe Oxford University Hospitals Trust, firstly in the Trauma Unit and then in the specialist surgery wards. I had an operation to take nerves from my leg to try and bridge the gap in my C5/C6 nerves (the ones that control the upper arm) and it was a fairly hard-core operation lasting 7 to 8 hours. I’d had general anaesthesia before but I’ve never been under for such a long time. I came round in the recovery room at the hospital but was kind of lost in a waking hallucination which is presented here for your hilarity.

According to my febrile imagination the John Radcliffe Hospital was actually a front for a shady cabal that ruled the world and they wanted me to join them. While it was a working hospital this was just a way to throw suspicion off this dark council that were pulling the strings of society. I can’t remember why they decided to choose me to join their ranks but after my operation they loaded me into a special lift that took me down into the garage where my friend Karl was waiting for me with his Land Rover. Obviously the cabal couldn’t take the risk that anyone would twig to these underhanded dealings so I was to be smuggled out incognito under some blankets in the back of Karl’s Landie.

Front for a shady cabal or purveyor of medical services – you decide. (

I had hospital gown on and a self administered IV morphine pump (not nearly as fun as it sounds) which had to be loaded in with me. The blanket cover my hospital gown so that was fine but the morphine pump was clearly hospital equipment and had to be disguised with stickers. At this point I decided that actually I didn’t want to join the secret society and demanded to go back up to the ward to recover from my surgery. I was taken back into the lift and wheeled into the side room on the Trauma Unit; by this point it was about 2am and on the way back to the ward I suddenly had a chilling thought that I wasn’t going to be allowed to just carry on with my life now I’d seen behind the curtain. I was suddenly absolutely 100% certain that they were going to off me by giving me poison in my IV or similar. I can’t quite convey just how absolutely vivid and real all this was to me especially not from a perspective of 4.5 years distance, but I was so frightened I burst into floods of tears.

The night nurse, a lovely woman called Kerry, came and held my hand and asked what was wrong so I haltingly told her the story and that I was frightened the cabal were going to kill me. She patiently told me that I was just having a bad comedown from the general anaesthetic and the hospital really was just a hospital and I had nothing to worry about and would see my family again. She said that she had to finish off her rounds but that she would come back and sit with me when she had done them. Just as she was leaving she handed me the control for the IV morphine pump in case I needed it while she was gone, and after she left the room I decided I would treat myself to a little morphine. However to my horror when I picked up the control it was sticky.

That meant it had had stickers on.

That meant I genuinely had been prepared for incognito departure via Land Rover.

That meant it was all real.

The cabal were going to come for me.

So…. I burst into tears again and when Kerry came back to my room she asked what was wrong now so I explained about the sticky hand unit and she struggled not to laugh as she explained that during the operation, in order to make sure the hand unit didn’t go walkies, it was Sellotaped to the base unit and the stickiness I felt was just tape residue.

Well I’m sure you can imagine how much of a muppet I felt, especially the following day when I woke up to find out that I hadn’t been poisoned by IV and that nobody was going to silence me for having seen shady dealings.

I haven’t had any further adventures in anaesthesia I’m glad to say, as the further operations I’ve had since then have all been relatively short. The next operation I’m expecting to have will be my amputation when the NHS lurches into action; if I discover any anaesthesia -related secrets behind the Aberdeen Royal infirmary I’ll be sure to let you know.

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