Updated 15 Aug 2015

Robert Palmer's autobiography -03

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Robert Palmer's autobiography 1964-1973

| Chapter 9 (1964-66)
| Chapter 10 (1966-68)
| Chapter 11 (1968-70)
| Chapter 12 (1970-73) |
special photos

Chapter 9

1964 to 1966

age 20-22


    Continued from 1962

    93 Chris Hutter in flat
    94 Roger Pearce and RJP on holiday
    When I started my clinical years as a medical student I shared a flat in Shepherds Bush with Roger Pearce and Chris Hutter (see photo of Chris and myself in flat April 1964, and photo of Roger standing next to me at St Brivael’s Youth Hostel in the summer of 1963). Unfortunately it did not work out too well (largely my fault) and Roger moved into Wilson House the St Mary’s Hall of Residence followed by Chris and then myself.

    The clinical work was not onerous and there wasn’t the pressure of 2nd MB which is the major hurdle in medical school. I was playing a lot of water polo including our summer tours to the west country in 1964 and 1965. I also played for United Hospitals, but was stopping playing for Richmond as I was living in London. I also went on a tennis club tour to the West Country and was playing tennis for the Mary’s team, although I was one of their weaker players. Girl friends did feature in particular a nurse I met when I was doing my paediatric attachment in Exeter under Dr Brimblecombe in the spring of 1965. She came to Twickenham for my 21st birthday party (Mum was not impressed, she never took to my girlfriends) and John Hunt (Hunt “The Cunt” from Ston), gatecrashed , took off with her, married her, I think they had children, and then dumped her. Round about this time I decided (foolishly) that I would like to do a stint with VSO (voluntary service overseas), and in November duly flew to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania and took the bus to Liuli, near Songea in south western Tanzania to a British Mission Hospital which was a collection of mudhuts on Lake Malawi (formerly Nyasa) not far north of the Mozambique border.
    In my diary for Wed 17 November 1965 I have written:
    "EXODUS!! Robert leaves for Africa.
    [I] got offer from Plessey, Poole, [Dorset] @ £1,450 pA"

    I left Twickenham for Dorset, and guessed Robert was
    leaving his home too.
    On the way I drank some unboiled water and had a severe case of NVD which went on for some time so it was a bad start and didn’t get much better. There was a lady British Mission doctor who was allowed to operate and was incompetent. It was also somewhat holier than thou and not my scene at all. Another Mary’s medical student Roger Atkins, who I was replacing, overlapped with me for a while. He had been a great success which showed me up in an even poorer light. I was at first allowed to drive a landrover, but after I got it stuck they wouldn’t even allow me to do that. After a while at Liuli I went to a German Mission Hospital, Peramiho, which was a couple of hours drive away. It was a fairly extensive brick building with far superior facilities than Liuli. There was a German doctor there who was multiskilled and a competent surgeon who could do C. Sections, eye ops, incarcerated hernias, abdominal surgery, you name it. He impressed me greatly. His wife, who was not medical, gave the anaesthetics (he had taught her). However she was not happy there so after a time back to Germany they went and so they had nobody.

    So back to Liuli I went. There was a Portugese gunboat on the lake shelling the no mans land just south of the border in Mozambique (it was still a Portugese colony and the “frelimo” were fighting the Portugese for independence). We got refugees in Liuli and they were completely uneducated (a Portugese policy). I also visited the local leper colonies. Endemic diseases were malaria, schistosomiasis, ancylostomiasis, tuberculosis, tropical ulcers, trachoma, bronchopneumonia secondary to measles in children, obstructed labour and so on. There were the UK equivalent of paramedics who were locals with a rudimentary knowledge of medicine, and nurses.

    Mum posted me a spear gun but predictably it never arrived. Quite rightly she had always been anti the whole thing.
    43 Murder plot 1966.

    After seven months there I just wanted out and so off I went. It was summer of 1966 and the world cup soccer was underway in England. I don’t think they were too sorry to see me go and they didn’t kick up a fuss. I didn’t tell VSO. Getting back to UK was not straightforward as I had decided to hitchhike. It was OK to Tanga, north of Dar Es Salaam and not far south of the Kenyan border. Then I had an uncomfortable experience which is chronicled in 43z, an article in the Richmond and Twickenham Times. Anyway I got to Mombasa and then to Nairobi. There I was stymied as I was not allowed in the Northern Frontier District of Kenya where Somali bandits were operating, so I was forced to fly to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. From there I hitched a lift to Asmara the capital of Eritrea. En route the driver of the petrol tanker I had hitched a lift with made off with my rucksack in the cabin of the vehicle. I managed to hitch another lift and caught up with him and got my rucksack back. My money and documents I always kept in a little bag round my neck which Mum had knitted. From Asmara I rode on the roof of a train to Kassala in the Sudan, then on to Khartoum, a Nile boat to Cairo and hitched to Alexandria. I hitchiked across Egypt and Libya to Tunis from where I got a boat to Marseille and hitched to Calais, across to Dover and arrived filthy dirty at Aunt Gert’s in Margate. [She answered the knock on her door with "Good God, come on in" - John]

    Subsequently I summoned up the courage and went to the VSO office in London to get my resettlement bounty. As expected I got a right real rollicking but came away with half of my bounty which was better than nothing.

Chapter 10

1966 to 1968

age 22-24


    Before I went on VSO I had joined the St Mary’s mountaineering club. When I got back from Tanzania to St Mary’s in the late summer of 1966 I found I had been appointed treasurer of the club in absentia. We used to go up to the medical school hut near Rhydd Ddu on a Friday afternoon and return Sunday afternoon. The drive was not much fun to put it mildly but once up there it was good fun with its moments of sheer terror. The fellow students who had introduced me to climbing were Mike Freeman and John Turner who were both in the year above me. Mike had been at Charterhouse and John at Worksop College. The secretary was Andrew McMichael, now a peer of the realm, who I also became friendly with. Andrew had a girl friend called Kate, and she in turn had a girl friend also called Cate with a C who I became friendly with. I remember Andrew and I asking Sir Roger Bannister, who was a Consultant neurologist at St Mary’s if he would be president of the club, but of course he was too busy. Mum, quite rightly as it had its dangerous moments, did not approve, but of course I went ahead anyway.

    Meanwhile I was getting better at water polo. Newer students at St Mary’s in the club who I became friendly with were Ken MacLeod and Geoff Talbot. A photograph of the St Mary’s water polo contingent is below (actually taken 27 years later).
    95 St Mary's water polo team taken in 1994. Back L to R:
    Rex Stanbridge, RJP, John Fox, John Sirs, George Tait, Denis Warnford Davies;
    Front L to R: Ken MacLeod, Phil Watts, Geoff Talbot, John Benjafield.
    I also joined Otter swimming club and started playing for their first team. Later I began playing for London University.

    In late 1966 I sat my mock pathology exam with the new year that I was unfortunately now in. I think I came dead last or close to it. That really shook me up and I worked flat out for several months and when I took the actual exam in the spring of 1967 I came top and had an honours viva which I failed (just as in 2nd MB). After that I regressed into bad ways again.

    There was an opportunity to do my surgical clerkship in Pittsburgh. Mum went to the Masonians who agreed to pay my fare there and back, but told her not to come back again for a handout. I went with Doug Leaming who was a chain smoker and played the piano. Sadly he later died of cancer. We travelled over by Polish tramp steamer on the cheap but flew back. The US medical students were terrified of being called up to go to Vietnam and some planned to avoid the draft by going to Canada. At the end of the clerkship Doug and I toured the US by greyhound, staying at one point with Angela and Euan MacLachlan near Vancouver.

    When I got back I resumed regular trips to the climbing hut in Snowdonia and playing more water polo than ever. By this time I was captain of the St Mary’s swimming and water polo clubs, and a reasonable back stroke swimmer. I was in the London University first team (see photo below). I think the high point of my water polo career was a tour to Aachen in Germany in January 1968 for a knockout tournament which we won, beating the West German club champions Dusseldorf in the process. We went on to easily win the BUSEF championship in the spring of 1968 and our first seven were chosen en bloc for the British Universities team. Our star player was Jim Shekhdar, who later rowed solo across The Pacific Ocean. He was the the best player in Britain at the time.
    23 Cups and Blazer for Water Polo

    For my water polo exploits (I was voted the top defender in the BUSF championships), I received the Bannister Trophy from Sir Roger (see photo SB23, one of the cups is the Bannister trophy, also the British Universities blazer). Also photo SB16 selection for British Universities. I was awarded my London University purple (see photo SB15).

    My finals had taken somewhat of a back seat to water polo. I sat conjoint early in 1968 and passed thus becoming a doctor of medicine. I took my MB BS finals a little later and passed also, though I was borderline for surgery but they decided not to defer me, though I think it was a close decision. Thus my medical school days were over.

    The next step was applying for a house job.I put myself down for Carl Young’s medical house job at St Mary’s Hospital, Harrow Road (formerly Paddington General Hospital). Carl Young had been president of the swimming club and also was an Otter member which gave me an inside track, and indeed I got the job. Thus we move on to the next stage of my autobiography.
    96 London University Team 1967 to 1968.
    L to R back: John Littleton goalkeeper, RJP, Clive Rogers, ?, Graham Jupp, Dave Chapman.
    L to R front: ?, ?, Roger Marwood captain, ?.
    The first seven were John Littleton in goal, Graham Jupp and RJP defence,
    Roger Marwood and Dave Chapman midbath, Jack Gauldie and Jim Shekhdar forwards.
    Jim Shekhdar
    Jack Gauldie
    98 Swimming and medical revision regime

Chapter 11

1968 to 1970

age 24-26


    I started as a house physician to Dr C A Young at St Mary’s Hospital, Harrow Road in May 1968. It was a baptism of fire up to a point and for the first few weeks I had no registrar and had to contact the registrar from Daddy Green’s firm or heaven help Carl Young himself. Fairly soon though Bob Simpson started as registrar. One of the first things he said was “I won’t come in after hours but you can phone me any time” which I did and frequently. He was good to work with and decisive and once I got the hang of the job I think we worked well together.

    There were two notable events during the six months. The first was when I was selected to go to Rosyth to play water polo for British Universities against a Scottish Select team. Unfortunately it was scheduled for my weekend on (I did every other night and every other weekend on call which is over 100 hours a week, for an annual salary of £720 as I remember). I was determined to play but I did not dare ask Carl Young in case he said no. I talked to Bob Simpson and he suggested I got a senior medical student to cover me which was allowed. I asked Thelma Thomas and she agreed. She relieved me at lunchtime on the Saturday and I was back by 9am Monday morning I think. We won the match easily and I played. On the Saturday morning before I left I saw a rugby player in his late 20’s in Casualty who was very unwell with terrible tonsillitis, pneumonia, haematuria, and only a 2 week history of increasing tiredness. I sent bloods off and the technician rang me back to say it was acute leukaemia for which there was no treatment in 1968. I handed him over to Thelma Thomas. When I got back on Monday morning she told me he had died on the Saturday night. I told Carl Young on his Monday ward round and he said it was OK as I had made the diagnosis. He never did realise I had taken off.

    The second was a one night stand I had with one of the nurses from the Republic, who of course was a staunch Catholic. Some weeks later a note had been slipped under my door from the young lady to say she was overdue. She wanted to get married but I said that was not possible. Termination of pregnancy had only just been legalised in the UK on 27th April 1968, a few weeks before. Being a Catholic she would not countenance a termination, but up against my stonewalling started to waver. I took a urine sample from her to Dr John Benjafield who was in the Mary’s swimming club and was a Harley Street pathologist. The test was positive. I asked him for help and he initially refused but as I was leaving he saw my distress and relented and phoned a friend of his who was a gynaecologist. I was mortified and terrified to tell anyone. She had a termination. I paid the gynaecologist his fee which was a princely sum to me at the time, but to my disgrace I never paid the anaesthetist despite more than one request. It put me right off girl friends for quite some time.

    After I finished my pre registration house job in medicine I went to King Edward V11th Hospital Windsor for my pre registration house surgeons job. The consultant I worked for was Mr David Bain. I took over from Ken MacLeod who stayed on at Windsor to do his medical job. It wasn’t nearly as busy a job as the medical job. David Bain did his ward round on a Saturday morning. The registrar was a Spaniard Senor Cabre. On one occasion a surgeon did a bowel resection and closed the abdomen without doing the anastomosis as he had been chatting with the anaesthetist. Mr Cabre who was assisting tried to interrupt but it wasn’t until the skin stitches were going in that he was listened to and of course the abdomen had to be reopened, and the anastomosis performed.

    I was forever driving up to London for water polo matches. I played for the Surrey water polo team which won the county championship in Cheltenham, I think in 1968 or 1969. Our team was John Towers, Maurice Skerman, Dick Baylis, myself, Mike Creamore, Bugsy Creamore, Ron Fluke and Charlie Thurley. Sadly at the time of writing Maurice Skerman, Charlie Thurley, Mike Creamore and Bugsy Creamore have all passed on. I have lost contact with Dick Baylis and Ron Fluke. I went out with a sister, Olive from Morecambe, who lived in the nurses home, but water polo took precedence.

    Towards the end of the job I went to Epsom for an interview for an SHO job in OB GYN. Ken MacLeod was on the platform at Windsor station waiting for the same train. He got the job and they said I could have a job when Ken finished his 6 months.

    When I finished at Windsor I went back to Court Way to live. I was doing a bit of blood transfusion work but didn’t know what to do for the next 6 months so looked in the BMJ and saw a casualty job at Kingston advertised. I phoned up in the morning and got the administrator. He asked me where I lived so I said Twickenham. He said could I come over to Kingston at 2.30pm that afternoon which I did. After talking with him he said could I start at 9am the next morning. I was a bit thunderstruck but said ok. I never met any doctor let alone a Consultant.

    It was a responsible job. I got no teaching except from fellow SHO’s and the nurses. I never saw a Consultant. After seeing a patient I would often excuse myself, go next door and look it up in a textbook! I did 24 hours on and 24 hours off. I often slept at Court Way when I was off. I met a nurse who’s father was an RSM in the army. She was a bit of a nymphomaniac but a nice girl. I regret to say that after several months I stood her up and she phoned Mum. Mum called me a “rake”.

      Some of my most memorable clinical cases were at Kingston.
    • A little boy was BID (brought in dead) after a RTA. The parents didn’t know. The sister put the parents into a side room and I had to tell them.
    • An elderly lady came in in ventricular tachycardia after a myocardial infarct. I gave her 1mg per kilogram of intravenous lignocaine (the textbook dose) and she fitted, could not be resuscitated and died. That shook me up somewhat.
    • I treated Veronica Lake a former Holywood sex goddess whose current husband was British. She had a severe drink problem.
    • A young couple who were not wearing seat belts were in a RTA. The 20yo girl in the passenger seat was catapulted forwards and struck her neck on the dashboard. She along with her boyfriend incredibly were able to “hitch a lift” to Casualty. On arrival she was moribund from a fractured larynx which obstructed her airway and could not be resuscitated. At this stage in my career I lacked airway skills. I often wonder if I had immediately attempted a cricothyroid or tracheotomy airway if the outcome could have been different, probably not.
    • A fellow SHO taught me how to give valium and pethidine iv and reduce Colle’s fractures of the wrist which was quicker than waiting for an anaesthetist!
    • A patient came in just before Christmas saying she had swallowed a large safety pin. The casualty sisters poo poohed it saying she just wanted to be in hospital over Christmas. I did a precautionary X ray and there in her oesophagus was an enormous open safety pin. She had to go to surgery and they nearly lost her trying to extricate it.
    • A young lady came in with an acute abdomen. I admitted her under the general surgeons. Of course it was a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. I couldn’t understand how I could have got it wrong as it had been drilled into us at medical school that any ill young woman was pregnant unless proved otherwise. The trouble was it was some time since I had done obs and gynae.
    Meanwhile I was playing as much water polo as ever for Richmond, Otter, St May’s even etc.

    Looking back I sometimes wonder if together with my SHO OB GYN job if these weren’t the most responsible jobs I have done as a doctor, and I still marvel at the lack of senior supervision.

Chapter 12

1970 to 1973

age 26-29


    Towards the end of my six months in Kingston I decided not to take the Epsom OB GYN job, but rather to do anaesthetics. I was influenced by the fact that two of my friends (Geoff Talbot and Chris Hutter) were either doing or going to do anaesthetics. Back then it was a bit of a Cinderella specialty, but it was easier to get on in as a result and I was not keen on the very difficult exams and the competition were I to choose a surgical specialty. Also I felt that I was better suited to a procedural specialty rather than a predominantly cognitive one. Also the lack of continuity of care was an attraction rather than the opposite. Hence I applied for and got an SHO anaesthetic position as a novice trainee at the Westminster Hospital. There were 3 positions and only 3 applicants (the other 2 were Aussies) so we were all appointed.

    Anaesthetics was quite different from the other medical jobs I had done and took a bit of getting used to. I remember about two weeks after I had started I had an afternoon ENT list with a consultant anaesthetist who shall remain nameless, but suffice it to say he was president of the faculty of anaesthetists on a A plus merit award. It was an afternoon list with an ENT Consultant surgeon and the first case was a trans nasal hypophsectomy. My consultant anaesthetist excused himself before the list had started saying he had an important engagement (private case maybe?). I really hadn’t even learned to intubate. The lady ODP virtually did the case. Such was the state of play 45 years ago.

    I did alternate nights on call but was generally not badly supervised apart from occasional glaring examples like the above.

    Of course I was still playing water polo with Otter at every opportunity.

    Not long after starting I met Hilary at a party. We went out for quite some time. She once said to me “there is something missing in you, but I don’t mind”. I think she wanted to get married but I wouldn’t take the plunge and she went to the antipodes for a year, though before she went said I could stop her going.

    After some months at Westminster I went to the hospital in Roehampton. While I was there Mum had a gynae operation for a prolapse and the surgeon was Mr DeVere. Her anaesthetist “Freddie” Mills told me off for not getting her flowers.

    There was a summer water polo tour to Malta (either August 1969 or August 1970, probably the former). Water polo was very popular in Malta and we got more local newspaper coverage than Manchester United football team who were there at the same time.
    97 Malta Tour 1969.
    Back row L to R:
    Phil Brayford (Poly), Dave Last, RJP, Roger Looker (Otter), John Towers (Otter), ?.
    Front row L to R:
    Terry King (Penguin), ?,?,Barry Turner (Poly)
    It was an Otter tour but not all Otter first team, those from Otter first team who didn’t go were Bob Burn, Tony Milton and Peter Stevens.

    Towards the end of my year at The Westminster I sat and passed first time the primary anaesthetic fellowship exam.

    In the late spring of 1971 I applied for a registrar position in anaesthetics at Brighton, as I was fed up with London. At the interview I was asked if I would consider a job at Guy’s. This was totally unexpected and feeling somewhat intimidated and overawed I stupidly said yes. I duly started the job in late summer of 1971, and I did not enjoy it. It wasn’t helped by a near miss in the radiology suite, a remote setting, with no ODP, and the patient an older lady who I had intubated and ventilated and there was a problem with the anaesthetic machine and nobody to help me. I had to blow down the tube. Anyway not long after I resigned. The chairman of the department was flabbergasted and it was a potentially career ending move.

    I applied for an SHO OB GYN position in Chichester, and this time I was successful. I was thinking at this time of going into General Practice. My consultant was Mr Lynn Evans, a small Welshman. The only time I saw him in the maternity unit was when he had a private patient. He would do hysterectomies through a small abdominal incision using a corkscrew like pulling a cork out of a bottle. He took me to King Edward V11th Midhurst occasionally to assist with a private patient. One day I was called into the administrators office at St Richard’s and asked why I had absented myself from NHS duties and moreover claimed travel expenses to Midhurst. I replied I had to comply with my Consultant’s instructions and why were you raising the issue with me and not Mr Lynn Evans. I heard no more on the matter.

    The maternity unit was at St Richard’s and theatres were at both St Richard’s and The Royal West Sussex in Broyle Road. The anaesthetists were Ozzie, Cyril Prideaux, John Bennett and Eileen White and Judy Wilson were staff grades. The other Consultant obstetrician was John Gibson and I had an experienced registrar from abroad, who I did receive some instruction from, as well as from the midwives and the textbooks. I learnt how to do vacuum extractions and there happened the worst case of my medical career.

    The patient was an elderly primip (by the definition back then). I had learnt how to do vacuum extraction (Ventouse). I forget who taught me, maybe the registrar with input from the midwives, and certainly from the obstetric textbook. I had by this time performed quite a few by myself and had reached the overconfident stage probably. I do remember that back then it was viewed as a safe technique unlike mid cavity forceps. I also remember the textbook saying you could pull for up to 25 minutes. That certainly is not the case now, a few pulls and if no progress straight to LSCS. Anyway I pulled for about 15 to 20 minutes and then called the registrar. It was John Gibson’s registrar. She said she would come over but in the meantime to continue pulling. By the time she arrived I had been pulling for the 25 minutes. She sat down in the delivery suite and told me to continue pulling, so I did. After I think about 30 minutes the baby was born. It subsequently died from a cerebral bleed secondary to a tentorial tear. I had to talk to the mother after her precious baby had died.

    I was playing water polo for Southampton who were in division 2 of the National league. Although a defender I was their top goal scorer. I also was still playing a bit with Otter (before I came down to Chichester I had been Otter water polo secretary.

    I had been going out with Julie. We went to the climbing hut in Snowdonia in March 1972. When I got back I went to a mess party at St Richard’s on Saturday 18th March 1972. I hadn’t gone with Julie, who was a bit noisy for me, but didn’t meet anyone at the party. I was on call but as was the case back then had had a beer or two at the party. Around midnight I was beeped to the gynae ward by a battleaxe night sister. While in the ward I saw a very pretty student nurse and read her name badge (Valerie Nunn). When I got back to my room I tossed around for a while and then summoned up the courage to phone the ward, planning to hang up if it was the battle axe. A young female voice answered and I asked if she was Valerie. She said no but did she want me to get her. I said yes and after a while Valerie came on the phone. I explained who I was and she said yes she had seen me on the ward.
    42 RJP in the yellow MGB convertible in France
    61 Valerie Nunn's photo which was in all the buses
    in Chichester at the time as she was the poster
    girl for the hospital.
    I asked if she would like to come out and got a muted response. I said I had a yellow MGB convertible. She seemed a little more enthusiastic but I thought the chances of her turning up at my suggested time and place (6.25 pm Monday 20th March 1972 outside the then main hospital entrance by the roundabout) were 50% at best (without the MGB would have been considerably less). She did turn up and as we drove out of the hospital by sheer bad luck passed Julie. The rest as they say is history.

    In the summer of 1972 I finished the obstetric and gynaecology SHO job and started a six month SHO paediatrics post and chest medicine post at St Richard’s Chichester on 1st September 1972. The Consultant paediatrician (there was only one), was Dr Bud Robinson. Valerie and I had had a holiday together in Scotland (of which Mum, who I had introduced Valerie to, did not approve; "a flock of Baptists" she said, but there again she disapproved of all my girlfriends).

    The paediatrics job was not my metier, though it was less busy than the maty job. I remember having a newborn who needed an exchange transfusion in the middle of the night for erythroblastosis. I phoned Bud Robinson and he asked me if I had done one before, to which of course I replied no. He came in and we did it together. I also worked at Bognor Regis chest hospital, and that was part of the job.

    I had a heart to heart with Valerie’s father. It did not go particularly well. He was a Baptist missionary who had worked in Southern Sudan. In the end I said to him "I have no idea what you are talking about". We never repeated the topic of religion, though he did give a “sermon” at our wedding reception 2 years later.

    On 30th October 1972 I passed the DRCOG exam in London.

    In mid December Valerie went to Tennessee for over 7 weeks.

    I had decided to get back into anaesthetics. On 22nd January 1973 I had an interview at Poole for a registrar job in anaesthetics and was successful. Somewhat ill advisedly I bought a bungalow, 6 Springdale Avenue, Broadstone before the interview, but it worked out alright. I started work at Poole on Monday 26th February 1973. I was starting to play a lot of squash at The Arndale Centre and Meyrick Park.

    Valerie and I were living together in the Springdale Avenue bungalow.

    There follows details of my most memorable case whilst at Poole.
    July 1973. Anaesthetic Registrar, Poole. 8pm Saturday evening.
    Emergency bleep to Casualty for 2yo little boy who had inhaled top of pen.
    Rushed to theatre where completely obstructed, unconcious, deeply cyanotic, periarrest.
    Alan Bracewell appears in pyjamas....
    Below is a letter from Alan Bracewell the ENT Consultant.
    "Your letter arrived this morning. Thank you for showing me the account of our joint adventures with the pen top. My wife read it and said that she knew the problem was desperate as Peter our laid back Australian registrar was very capable and if he said it was desperate it really was. She says I was still dripping water as I left the house. I suppose with the excitement and the running up the stairs I had more or less dried off by the time I reached theatre. The technical problems of getting the pen top out were partly due to inadequate equipment. The pen top would not come up the scope as it was too narrow and the forceps were not strong enough to get hold of the edge of the pen top and allow it to be pulled through the cords and extract it. Eventually with a small pair of adult laryngeal forceps I was able to get a good grip of the pen top and pull it up against the end of the scope and 'railroad ' the scope and the top through the larynx and out into the upper airway. I was afraid that this traumatic procedure might cause laryngeal oedema - hence the tracheotomy but he was OK when we scoped him under a GA 48hours later and we closed the tracheotomy. Two good things came out of it. His mother gave me £100 which I donated to the children's ward fund and I bullied the administration into letting me get a decent set of paediatric scopes and forceps. I went to a conference in Venice a few months later and Stortz had just produced a new range which we bought. As far as I am aware they are still in use. Please do not feel that you have to alter your account in any way. I do not want that to happen. I just thought that some of the details might be helpful in embellishing the story when you tell it to your friends. Recently I had to write a sort of obituary about my old colleague Peter Adlington who died about a year ago. After collecting as much information as I could from family and colleagues I wrote it and had it published before showing it to anyone else. I knew that if I sent it around for approval every one would want their say and it would become a committee rather than a personal view - so keep you piece 'personal'.
    With best wishes
    AB "

    Continued in 1973

Conceived, written and copyright © 2014, Robert PALMER, All Rights Reserved.

Compiled, formatted, hyperlinked, and hand-coded 2014 by John PALMER, .