Monday, 26 September 2016

Red Thread



 Observing surgery at St. Mary's, a hospital in central London it felt as though I was going down a dodgy back alley to get there. Feeling tired and nauseous from the extremely early start, I am not an early riser by any stretch of the imagination.
  It was a labyrinth. Blank windowless tall walls, the backs of buildings but I get there. I watch as others enter this strange building with its coffee shop and shiny floors like a cross between a shopping mall and a train station. People arrive clutching A4 sheets of instructions and are redirected around the maze. Then it's my turn to enter and I go straight to the heart of it.
  Blues, all in blue cotton clothing and hair nets.
  I look at scans of people's internal structure and watch the beautiful undulations of contours, the waxing and waning as the mouse moves over the image. Light patches and black voids, these are read like words.Decisions,complex choices and frustrations with technology.
  Suddenly we are ready and we go straight into theatre. Gore.They cut through the thick white cocoon  of dressing ,dead flesh and live blood, two stitches.
 I am impressed by the scrub nurses' system and shall never look at hanging 'shoe tidys' in the same way. They seem to use the VAK system and it appeals to my sense of order.
   Another cocoon,it reminds me of when I bought some bumble bees and they arrived sleepy and wadded up for protection.Bursts of compassion through the routine like the blood bursting through,alive. I see the battle between the caring and the struggle with the system. I see emotional lightning as they carry each other,get each other through.
  Surgeons are frustrated when they can't work, like me.
Next a five hour replumbing. Complex, orderly, and intense. I can only see so much of the stitching but the room and it's workings are a dance of people with purpose. We wear radiation protection and the surgeons look like medieval knights going to do battle.
  White light, sea green paper, sky blue scrubs, orange stents and red thread. It ties the clean swabs together and is methodically counted and collected.
I leave after ten and a half hours and the outside world seems ridiculous.

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