Caesarian

Seven people go into a room and eight people come out.

Anaesthetists don’t just work with unconscious patients. This¬†expectant mother is being guided through a magic trick.¬†Sitting beside her, the anaesthetist asks questions, tells her what is happening, and what she can expect to feel and hear. His team help bridge the gap between her emotions, and what is happening to her numbed body.

 

Patient Experience

From my own experiences, I’m aware of the intimacy and vulnerability in handing yourself over completely into the care of someone else.

Everyone remembers having a general anaesthetic. They won’t remember the operation; but they’re likely to tell their friends all about the process of slipping into unconsciousness. The anaesthetist is their guide and protector into and out of this netherworld. For the clinicians the process is routine, yet the anaesthetists and nurses I photographed were always aware of the importance of this moment to the patient. They used charm, humour, calmness, eye contact and a genuine interest in the patient to help them navigate what is at the very least a disorienting experience.








Anaesthetists

Consciousness is a tricky subject, debated by philosophers and scientists for hundreds of years. But anaesthetists turn it on and off and otherwise manipulate it every day. Photographing people losing consciousness is an odd thing. Like a benign and reversible death. One moment they’re there talking as I snap away and the next minute they’re absent, yet still the centre of attention. They are there and not there.
My commission for the Royal College of Anaesthetists took me to hospitals around the country to photograph all aspects of anaesthesia.
I’ll cover other aspects of this extraordinary profession in future posts.