I was in an operating theatre recently, and yes, I was the guy they were operating on. It was what medical practitioners call a minor procedure; I was to get a screw pulled out of my ankle, which fractured about six months ago.
What’s important to know here is, be it major or minor surgery, the preparation to get into the theatre is almost the same. So after going through a lot of questions, filling forms, getting all other health conditions such as blood pressure and blood sugar levels checked and finally being wrapped up in hospital overalls complete with shower cap, I was wheeled into this very modern theatre, which without the general anaesthesia to dull ones senses, can be quite intimidating.
As a general rule, I think one must be unconscious in an operating theatre, but since mine was not considered a major procedure, I was only given local anaesthesia, therefore was quite aware of what was going on in my immediate surroundings.
That’s why I was surprised when, lo and behold, floating through this very clinical environment, I heard the wailing of a well know Sri Lankan singer. Nor was it mere piped music I was hearing but the well-amplified voice of Victor Ratnayake. I looked around at the masked men and women, and they did not seem to mind, in fact I thought there was a certain swagger to their movement (or was I imagining it?).
I am really not a fan of seventies Sinhala pop and certainly not a fan of this long-haired crooner, who is said to have had a very boisterous fan club. Victor is called ‘Sa’ by his friends and Wikipedia says that not only was ‘Sa’ highly popular, but Ratnayake has gained many fans following its inception.
One female fan is said to have written in a fan letter to the singer, “Do you know that I treasure 49 hairs of yours?” – alluding to how many times she has seen Ratnayake’s show. Critics are said to have described the show as ‘exquisite insanity’ and a ‘melodic lunacy’ because of the fervour shown by the singer’s fans, who would sometimes attack auditoriums he was playing at when they couldn’t get access.
However, as far as I was concerned, ‘Sa’ in the operating theatre was having a positive effect on the surgeon conducting my procedure and the attending staff. For the medical team, music was not just the food of love but another tool in their profession.
Which brings me to a point; we have come a long way from those old days when an operating theatre might mean death. Medical procedures have become so simplified in these modern times; so much so that there is a solution for almost any health problem we might encounter. For example open-heart surgery is not done the same way it was done 10 years ago.
With medical science advanced to such a degree, gone are the images of a surgeon with a serious look on his face, sweating away at an operation, and a dedicated nurse swapping his forehead during the long procedure. Instead operating staff is so relaxed in the theatre that their movements might be accompanied by a popular tune.
Now to a question I have – are we taking this simplification too much for granted? In my view, this advancement in medical science and its delivery has resulted in us almost sub-contracting our very existence to healthcare. Everything seems to be so easily done, most of our medical problems have some type of solution. So much so that our very lifestyle sucks; I get an SMS alert from a source called Lifeinshape done by the popular nutritionist and dietician Sigrid de Silva, who says, “Although affluent, many individuals do not meet the recommended nutrition standards, due to increased intake of foods lacking vital, healthy components.” Modern day life and its prosperity seem to be the road to perdition and our only saving grace – these experts in the medical field.
Of course kudos to the doctors and nurses in our hospitals, you can go on listening to ‘Sa,’ who certainly seemed to help my case. Although for me if it’s retro, I would rather have Lionel Ritchie doing his ‘dancing on the ceiling,’ but I suppose that would not have been appropriate for this particular theatre.
(The writer, a PR consultant and head of Media360, was previously a mainstream journalist in print and electronic media. He also edits a new media website.)
Source : Daily FT (http://ft.lk/columns/sa-in-the-theatre/4-76509)