June 12th, 2011 by Bernadette

Started R&D for the brilliant Penny Dreadful's new show "Etherdome",
although I  started researchng a couple of weeks ago, and visiting
museums filled of objects that should be used to slice eggs, but were
actually used for surgical operations.

I managed to worm my way in to watch an operation at a hospital (won't name
in case they get in trouble)
I am a person who can't look at their own finger if I have a paper cut, even
typing INCISION makes my stomach turn, so this seemed as good a time as any
to rid myself of this lily-livered attitude towards blood and guts. This
opportunity may never arise again. (As my good friend Sophie Russell said:
"You see, that's where we differ. You see it as an opportunity, whereas I
see it as something to be avoided at all costs").
As I turned out Mr Barnfather (director of the play) and I witnessed a
fairly low key night on the wards: a man coming round from anaesthesia after
a urethroplasty (yep, glad I ain't a man for that one), and a young girl who
was having a central line incision, so not much blood, and lots of looking
at the ultrasound and working out what was what on the fuzzy screen.
It's a bit like staring at clouds, after a while everything looks like
dolphins, although there were no dolphins of course that'd be ridiculous.
There were veins, arteries and muscles (ugh ugh ugh) At one point someone
said "OOPS!" and everybody laughed so I laughed too although I'd no idea
what had happened. There were loads of people in there, popping in and out
and playing pop music, it was surprisingly cavalier, their attitude. Someone
had tweetie bird on their hospital hat thing, and I thought I really hope
that nobody wears novelty scrubs if I ever have to have an operation, I
don't want to come round to that, I'd prefer it if they all dressed like
Florence Nightingale, even the men. Much more stylish.
The window of the largest operating theatre looks right out the Radisson
hotel opposite. Imagine that: As you get up for breakfast and have a morning
stretch by the net curtains, you see a man in a mask smathered in blood
handing another man a severed finger, for example. No full English after
In the name of research I had a bit of nitrous oxide out of the tube (smells
of nothing) ether (they said it seems of pears I think it smells of evil
mixed with glue) and banana gas, which they give to children (not it's
scientific name, smelled like pears)
I had quite a lot of the Ether as it's not often I get a free hit of
anything these days and I waned to see what it'd do. Didn't do much, but I
was already quite tired.

I wanted to see something much gorier after that. I know it's morbid. The
anaesthetist said later a man was having his leg removed but that I would
find that a bit much, as he did.
He said that at the end of the op they just chucked the leg in the bin "a
clean bin though" he said. Bit Sweeney Todd, that. I asked "Does the leg go
in the incinerator?" and he replied "sometimes..."
Which means that there are other times when the leg doesn't go into the bin.
So my next short story is about that leg.


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