Dr Ellie Zaremba working as an anaesthetist

Dec 2, 2017

Dr Ellie Zaremba

This month one of our own members, Dr Ellie Zaremba, kept us all wide awake as she delivered a most interesting and stimulating talk about her work as an anaesthetist at Musgrove Hospital in Taunton.

She started off with a comprehensive history of anaesthesia, which can be defined as ‘reversible lack of awareness’. The word derives from the Greek, ‘an’ = without, ‘aesthesis’ = sensation.

We were shown pictures of one of the earliest uses of anaesthesia, an Egyptian painting of men being circumcised. One of the men underwent the procedure without the benefit of any type of pain relief, and his expression said it all, whereas the second man had a local anaesthetic applied, and looked much happier as a result.

The modern use of anaesthetics began in 1846 in Boston, Massachusetts, when William Morton, a dental student, performed a dental extraction using ether. Queen Victoria was at the forefront of using anaesthetics in this country, when she was administered chloroform for the birth of Prince Leopold in 1853, and this royal patronage encouraged the wider use of anaesthetics, leading to their routine use today.

Ellie has undergone extensive training, and now holds an Associate Specialist post. She explained how, originally, she wanted to be an orthopaedic surgeon but then felt that anaesthetists had more variety in their work, and she loves the immediacy of the effects her work brings to people.

Her job has many aspects, from pre-operative assessment to post-operative care, support in intensive care, transport of acutely ill and injured patients, resuscitation and stabilisation and working in the emergency department in the hospital. She also spends one day a week on the labour ward providing lumbar punctures, epidurals, and pain relief for the surgical procedures which are needed in some cases.

Her role also includes psychological support to patients, as pain brings a variety of emotions. Ellie also does some teaching and training, as, after the notorious GP Harold Shipman’s use of drugs to commit many murders of his patients, keeping up to date is essential for all medical staff.

After Ellie’s speech, members’ time was spent making paper pompoms with varying degrees of success but great enjoyment.

We were very pleased that our displays of poppies in the park and Monmouth Gardens for Remembrance Day had received lots of positive comments from the British Legion and members of the public.

At the Somerset Federation of Women’s Institutes AGM earlier in the month, we were presented with our fifth anniversary certificate. We are still a comparatively new branch, and it was proposed that we should put together a series of scrapbooks recording our past and future activities, so we will have a permanent record for future members.

Our December meeting will be our Christmas meal, so our January meeting will be the next time we are able to welcome new members and guests.

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