It's and I'm on nights once more. There are no emergency operations to do, so I'm in the intensive care unit, helping out as best I can. Bindhu is the registrar on call tonight and is my direct senior for the shift. We’re walking round the unit and she’s giving me a brief handover of all the patients as we do so.
We pause at the end of one of the beds and I recognise the lady in it. It’s Mrs Campbell. Last week, I’d pre-assessed her for her emergency operation and then handed over her care to the anaesthetist on call during the day time. I smile at her and receive a tight grin in return.
"You won't get much out of her," says Bindhu. I give her my best "quizzical" look, so she elaborates. "It's a bit strange. Every time I try to speak to her she won't answer me, or even acknowledge me, but when I watch her with the nurses, she seems to be completely different. Mind you, she's apparently been a bit better today. In the daytime, they made the surgeons come down and explain to her what went on - or should I say, what went wrong - with her operation and explain what they're planning to do about it. I mean, it's only fair isn't it? I don't see why we (anaesthetists) should have to take the flak, when really the cause of her problems is nothing to do with us."
"Indeed." I reply. "I'll bet you that I can make her smile though."
Bindhu throws her head back and gives one of her lilting little laughs. “Good luck with that,” she says and we move on to talk about the next patient.
It’s now and Bindhu and I have done all the pressing things for all our patients on the intensive care unit. The nurses have just turned down the main lights, so the room is illuminated by soft glows coming from the lamps at each patient's bedside.
I walk up to Mrs Campbell’s bedside.