She lay on the trauma bed staring at the ceiling, wondering where she was. Sand bags were nestled up against each of her ears and a plastic collar gripped her neck tightly. A mass of bodies surrounded her, some listening to her chest, others calling across the room asking the size of her pupils, and others still, plunging knife-like needles into her arms. Having been thoroughly poked and prodded everywhere imaginable, the doctors and nurses had discovered that aside from a few minor scrapes on her arms and legs and the gnawing discomfort of the collar eating into the back of her skull, she appeared to have no pain or significant injuries anywhere.
But she didn’t know where she was or why she was there.
“Do you remember what happened?”, the doctor asked.
“No, I’ve no idea. Why am I here? Where am I?”, the patient was puzzled.
“You’re in hospital – you were involved in a car accident. Do you know what day it is?”
“No… I’m not sure.”
“Its the 1st of March.”, said the doctor slowly.
“Oh… White rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits…”
As she finished speaking the patient noticed the barely contained quiver of a smile on the doctor’s face. She looked to a nearby nurse who grinned sympathetically.
The doctor spoke
“Sorry… We’ve told you the date a few times now – each time you’ve given the same reply!”
The patient laughed.
“Don’t move your head! We need you to stay still until we’ve scanned your head and neck…”
Like song that sweetens toil, laughter brightens the road of life, and to be born with a sense of the comic is a precious heritage.William Osler; Two Frenchmen on laughter. Men and Books. CMAJ 1912;(II):152
Chris is an Intensivist and ECMO specialist at the Alfred ICU in Melbourne. He is also the Innovation Lead for the Australian Centre for Health Innovation at Alfred Health, a Clinical Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University, and the Chair of the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society (ANZICS) Education Committee. He is a co-founder of the Australia and New Zealand Clinician Educator Network (ANZCEN) and is the Lead for the ANZCEN Clinician Educator Incubator programme. He is on the Board of Directors for the Intensive Care Foundation and is a First Part Examiner for the College of Intensive Care Medicine. He is an internationally recognised Clinician Educator with a passion for helping clinicians learn and for improving the clinical performance of individuals and collectives.
After finishing his medical degree at the University of Auckland, he continued post-graduate training in New Zealand as well as Australia’s Northern Territory, Perth and Melbourne. He has completed fellowship training in both intensive care medicine and emergency medicine, as well as post-graduate training in biochemistry, clinical toxicology, clinical epidemiology, and health professional education.
He is actively involved in in using translational simulation to improve patient care and the design of processes and systems at Alfred Health. He coordinates the Alfred ICU’s education and simulation programmes and runs the unit’s education website, INTENSIVE. He created the ‘Critically Ill Airway’ course and teaches on numerous courses around the world. He is one of the founders of the FOAM movement (Free Open-Access Medical education) and is co-creator of LITFL.com, the RAGE podcast, the Resuscitology course, and the SMACC conference.
His one great achievement is being the father of two amazing children.
On Twitter, he is @precordialthump.