Anaesthetics on the agenda for the Brechin Probus club

AT THE Brechin Probus Club meeting held in the Northern Hotel on Tuesday, November 11, the proceedings were opened by Bob Berrie in the absence of chairman Hector Masterton.

Bob first of all took apologies and welcomed two visitors. He then went on to remind members that the Christmas lunch will take place in the usual venue on Tuesday, December 11, and asked that names of those attending be submitted to the treasurer Brian Titmus as early as possible.

After completing the rest of the club business, Bob introduced the speaker as Doctor Charles Allison, consultant anaesthetist (now retired), who served in the operating theatre at Stracathro Hospital for many years. He was born in Fife, attended Madras College, and is currently the President of the Scottish Society of Anaesthetics, the oldest society for anaesthetics in the world.

Dr Allison’s talk, ‘The Gas Man Cometh’, has caused confusion for him during talks to other organisations where on one occasions two old ladies attending brought their gas bills to the meeting. He then showed ,as part of his slide presentation, a humorous cartoon drawn by Maureen Smith of anaesthetics at work, and also a slide of the Mansion House in the ground of Stracathro which was use for junior medical staff accommodation.

The earliest historical beginnings of anaesthesia Dr Allison said, date back to Hypnos and Morphius, the Greek Gods of sleep, and the even earlier reference in the Bible where it is stated that God rendered a “deep sleep upon Adam”, illustrate how far back the practice of anaesthetics can be traced.

In more modern times, mandrake and opium were used to limit pain as was mesmerism, and Dr Allison went on to say that anaesthesia began in the Music Hall, where an entertainer, as part of his act, induced members of his audience into a deep sleep. At this point Dr Allison highlighted the names of some of the people who experimented, and others who pioneered the use of anaesthetic in surgical procedures, such as Horace Wells, a dentist in Hartford, Connecticut.

The first operation performed under anaesthetic took place at Dumfries on December 19, 1846, two days before Robert Liston, who is recognised at the pioneer of anaesthetics in surgery, first performed an operation under these conditions.

Dr Allison drew on what he sees as similarities between anaesthetics and golf. They are, he said, firsts for Scotland being considered the oldest structured activities in their fields in the world.

During his talk Dr Allison recounted a number of humorous stories, finishing with a slide of Rory McIlroy driving his ball off the tee at the Belfray, and hitting a bell tower.

The Vote of thanks was give by Frank Scott, when he thanked Dr. Allison for giving Probus members such an interesting, illuminating and entertaining talk.