Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Singer

Airway management is an important part of anesthesia. We give drugs which cause respiratory depression and often, muscle paralysis. So the anesthesiologist must be an expert in maintaining a patent and functioning airway. Like many other technical subjects, the best way to stay out of trouble is recognizing the existence of a problem before it occurs. This is why the anesthesiologist will always examine a patient's airway beforehand. This includes inspecting the range of motion of the neck, dentition and the oral cavity. The latter basically means that the patient is asked to open the mouth wide, stick out the tongue and say "ahhhhhhhhhhh" (although there is some evidence that saying "ahhhhhhhhhhh" is not necessary).

At this point I have a running joke: I ask the patient if he/she is a singer. No matter what the answer, my reply is always applicable: "I can see that." Some patients ask wide eyed "really?" I usually just wink.
During the airway examination of a recent patient, I deviated from my usual joke and said, "I can see you are not a singer". As luck would have it she was a singer. So I explained the joke and she thought I was all the rage.
As I prepared to anesthetize her I asked what type of music she sings. She is a singer/songwriter of the folk-rock variety. I told her that I like almost all music but my favorite is jazz.

She began singing "Round Midnight" for me. She has a beautiful voice and is obviously a professional singer. As I administered the anesthetic she lost consciousness. This is the first time in my experience that a patient sang herself to sleep (with a little help from my friends ;P )

6 comments:

rutimizrachi said...

Very cute story... but the best part is that your patients must feel very comforted being transported into the scary world of public unconsciousness by someone who treats them with humor, and an appreciation of who they are as individuals. Thank you.

Chrysalis Angel said...

That was cute. I'm going in for surgery in 3 more days...all goes well. I reaalllly hate being put under. I never could understand those people that liked being "out of it," I like to be aware of everything around me. I hate knowing I'm laying there....helpless.

QuietusLeo said...

Ruti - thanks.
Chrysalis - Good Luck.

Chrysalis Angel said...

Thank you. Now I hope you'll keep posting. I'll be laid up for a bit and can read. I may not be able to comment, but reading is a great way to recoop.

Another gasman said...

this is really nice but if you do not mind I would like to know , how did she wake up ..was she smiling and singing asd well.
I found that patients who go to sleep relaxed ,they wake up in good mood contrary to histerical , uptight ones they wake up agitated..

QuietusLeo said...

She woke up smiling. I too have noticed that patients tend to wake up the same way they went to sleep.

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