RANALD MACDONALD. ABC deal comes back to haunt the Government (Episode Two). | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations

Last week I began my summary of the Government’s complex negotiations aimed at getting its Media Reform Bill through the Senate with the words:   “Make a deal for political expediency a…

Source: RANALD MACDONALD. ABC deal comes back to haunt the Government (Episode Two). | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations

Anaesthesia by Kate Cole-Adams

Have you ever had an anaesthetic, and wondered about the experience?

Anaesthesia by Kate Cole-Adams

‘The gift of oblivion and the mystery of consciousness.’

What is anaesthesia and what impact does anaesthesia have on us?  I’ve experienced fifteen or so general anaesthetics over the past fifty years, and I also worked (as a student nurse some forty years ago) in both the operating theatre and intensive care environments.  A lot has changed over that period, but the intention of anaesthesia is surely broadly the same: to alter consciousness and reduce pain.  Well-trained (and empathetic) anaesthetists are critically important to success.  Why empathy?  Because patient confidence is also important, and an empathetic anaesthetist is far more likely to inspire confidence.

As Ms Cole-Adams writes:

‘This book explores perhaps the most brilliant and baffling gift of modern medicine: the disappearing act that enables doctors and dentists to carry out surgery and other procedures that would otherwise be impossibly, often fatally, painful.’

This book is about both anaesthesia in general and about Ms Cole-Adams’ own journey towards major surgery for scoliosis.  It includes accounts from those who were conscious under anaesthesia (where this was not intended) as well as referring to studies investigating situations where people have become aware under anaesthesia, but don’t have conscious memory of this occurring.  I’m interested in how those studies were conducted.  Some of the accounts had me shaking my head, and remembering advice I was first given in 1974: never assume that an unconscious person can’t hear what is being said.

‘It is odd where the mind goes, when it is off the leash.’

Two of the main objectives of anaesthesia are to ensure that the person is unaware of what is happening to them and that they will have no memory of it.  Ms Cole-Adams focusses on these objectives and on the complexity of consciousness.  Do we need to form a memory of an experience for it to be harmful?  And what about those (thankfully rare) cases where people become aware during surgery, and remember the experience?  How should such cases be identified and managed?  If consciousness is a continuum, then managing it through anaesthesia is surely both an art and a science.

There’s a lot of detail in this book, but it is presented in a way which makes it accessible to an interested non-medically trained reader.  It is clear, from the references and sources noted at the end of the book, that Ms Cole-Adams has done a lot of research. The book is both an explanation of anaesthesia and an account of patient experience.

If you’ve ever had an anaesthetic and wondered about the experience, you may find this book interesting.  I certainly did.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith


Dark Paradise by Catherine Lee

A novella from one of my most favourite Australian writers!

Dark Paradise by Catherine Lee

‘It was barely lunch time and Detective Charlie Cooper was already exhausted.’

And he’s about to find that rest will become even more elusive!  Cooper and Quinn find themselves on remote Lord Howe Island, after a contestant on a reality television show called ‘Transformation in Paradise’ turns up dead.  Is it an accidental death, or is it murder?  There’s plenty of pressure on Cooper and Quinn to find out what happened, and to solve the case quickly.  The reality show producers want the show to continue, as to the remaining contestants.  There’s a million-dollar prize on offer.

From the beginning, Cooper and Quinn find the case challenging.  Lord Howe Island doesn’t have immediate access to the resources needed for their investigation, and almost everyone they encounter seems to have something to hide.  No-one seems to have liked the dead contestant very much.

Ms Lee delivers another fast-paced story, providing just enough information to keep me guessing about what happened and why.  A couple of possibilities become red herrings (naturally!) and the outcome is neatly satisfying.  But don’t take my word for it, read the novella for yourself.  If you’ve not previously read Ms Lee’s novels, this novella could be read as a standalone introduction to Cooper and Quinn.  It could be, but I strongly recommend reading each book in the series.  Ms Lee has developed two very likeable main characters and each of the novels explores crimes set amidst topical issues.

Note: I was fortunate enough to receive a free Advanced Reader Copy of this novella for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith



JAMES O’NEILL. Australia and North Korea: Dangerous Illusions Place Australia at Risk | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations

The war of words between North Korea and the United states reached new heights last week.  US President trump pledged to meet any further threats by North Korea to the US “with fire and fury like t…

Source: JAMES O’NEILL. Australia and North Korea: Dangerous Illusions Place Australia at Risk | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations