The Stethoscope

Go on, go to sleep now. God will see us through!


Anesthetists are acute care physicians and as such often provide intensive care techniques as they are the experts of airway management, intraoperative life support and provision of pain control, intraoperative diagnostic stabilization, and proper postoperative management of patients. They also help with postoperative pain and even chronic pain management as may be necessary.

The past
We have had some pretty shitty anaesthetists to work with in the past. There are those who cancel cases on a whim because they want to have time for the school run. Picking up their children from school on time was always more important than the patients they have sworn to look after. Some rush the operation and stress the surgeon no end. Some concentrate on their phone data rather than the data from anaesthetic monitors.

Let me tell you more.

One went to sleep after an operation and could not be found till the next morning. When we asked why he was not answering his phone, he said, ‘I did not hear it ring, I was sleeping in an airconditioned room’. This while the patient he had anesthetized was gasping for breath!

He was so bad, he never looked back. Never cared enough to know if they were alright postoperative or not. He would anesthetize a patient and not bother to ask or inquire after them. After all, he has already moved on to the next case because the money was always more important!

Another anaesthetist could not perform cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. He had no idea how to resuscitate a dying patient and had never used a defibrillator! Honestly, he had no clue where to place the pads and what comes next! If we never saw him again, it would be too soon.

The present
But, then we found Dr Olatunde Olawoye! He is the ideal anaesthetist, a dedicated and consummate professional and a human being. He is skilled in the practice but have it all infused with a huge dose of humanity. Dr Olawoye is an anaesthetist of repute here in Abuja.

Let me tell you more.

A husband
Dr Olawoye is married to a pharmacist and we think that helps a lot with his understanding of drug reactions. We are talking chemistry here. The man knows his stuff and that must be enhanced by the discussions at bed times.

A father
He has three young children and we have seen many days when they wait around while he wakes up the patients. Many hours have been spent in hospitals as they appreciate that lives matter and that ‘Dad’ is the man in the thick of it all.

A pastor
Oh yes! The Nigerian patient is highly religious and have a fear of anaesthesia and surgery. So, who better than a pastor-anaesthetist to pray for you to have safe anaesthesia. Dr Olawoye prays for his patients and relaxes the mind, body and spirit before the procedure.

The anaesthetist
The word “anesthesia”, coined by Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1846 means without sensation referring to the inhibition of sensation. Anesthesia removes the sensation of pain and feeling during the period of the anesthesia. Did you know that when anesthesia was discovered religionists opposed the use of anesthesia on the ground that God sent pain as a punishment for sin, and it was considered the greatest of sacrileges to use it!

Man seeks to relieve his fellow man from the suffering of disease and the pangs of mental agony. Do you know what it means to relieve man of his pain and suffering? Anesthesia is the most humane of all of man’s accomplishments, and what a merciful accomplishment it was.

For this great discovery we are indebted to Dr. W. T. G. Morton. Dr Olawoye has taken the art to another level, locally in Abuja. He reviews his patients, making them calm before the surgery. At the operation, he invokes the power of the almighty in prayers that offer comfort and peace, to relax his patients. In a country where there is so much superstition and fear of surgery and anesthesia.

Many anxious patients with high blood pressure suddenly feel at ease knowing that a caring doctor was looking after them. This has made the acceptance of surgery easier for our patients. Thus, he has been instrumental in making surgery easy and painless for our patients.

With him we have performed a wide variety of operations with patients awake or asleep as the case demands. Finally, he looks back and always asks after his patients, ensuring their continued wellbeing, even after the anesthetic has worn off. That we like and we truly appreciate.

Enough said.

Biodun Ogungbo, MBBS, FRCS, FRCSEd, MSc, a Contributor to Newspackng, is a neurosurgeon with Brain and Surgery Consortium at 8 Buchanan Crescent, Off Aminu Kano Street, Wuse 2, Abuja.

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