The patient has Thai mystical tattoos all over his chest back neck and arms. Cool. Painful. Ouch. Not for E@L
Our anaesthetist for this session is a very fat man. He has stretched out his green scrubs, scrubs that would be loose on E@L. With chubby, baby-fat fingers, unexpectedly, he handles the syringes and needles and connectors and ampoules with an amazing felicity - he is deliberate, accurate and precise, and his pace of action nicely measured, never rushed, never hesitant. Measured as if it were timed on a steady, beta-blocked systole. The task of lightly* anaesthetizing the patient runs with a smooth ease E@L doesn't think he has ever witnessed before. It makes E@L smile to see this.
The anaesthetist's large hands (indeed his entire body) have no wasted motions. In latex gloves that cut into his wrists, those hands move smoothly into position like they had been programmed for a carbon-based industrial machine, or as it is if he has been doing some anaesthetics-dedicated medical Tai Chi with his extremities for as long as he has lived. Every attitude of his pudgy fingers is predetermined and choreographed. And so too, the paraphernalia of his tools, their packages and protective covers fall exactly open, part perfectly as designed and then the connectors connect, the ampoule top safely* cracks off with a soft pop, the needles pierce, the fluids run out or drip in as though according to a divine plan. Gravity's persistence, the adhesion of a packet edge's glue, the resistance of a rubber stopper, the reluctance of skin to permit entry unless the needle held with the bevel at just this angle, the pendulum arc of a length of cloth-tape that is flicked with the ring-finger across the arm to land on the junction of cannula and skin and have the optimum pressure applied to make it adhere as the fore-finger follows it down in one continuous motion: all of these vagaries which would catch E@L, or any other human, at first, at any attempt, he anticipates perfectly and executes flawlessly.
And this is the images that gets E@L, that defines the experience: He holds his thick pinky aloft, like drinking a cup of tea, as he turns a syringe end into a 3-way stopcock.
He chats amiably to the patient and everyone else in the small theatre throughout this (questions for E@L: Where are you from? Wow long are you in Bangkok? etc... Bar-girl chatter) without losing concentration. He is a most unlikely perfectionist, and the nicest person.
The thin surgeon seems to know what he is doing as well, but who gives a fuck about thin people, they always consider themselves perfect, they don't need E@L to sing their praises.
Heston on How To Poach The Perfect Egg: a) water at 80deg b) use an inverted plate to keep the egg from the bottom of the pan (it might poach unevenly, heaven forfend) c) freshest of eggs (preferably with chicken shit, rooster cum and matted hay still on the shell) d) break egg into a slotted spoon and allow the excess fluid to drain (it would only form those fairy-wing stuff) e) place the egg carefully onto the bottom of the upended plate, f) cook for six, or was it four, minutes, yes, it was four minutes.
Meanwhile; coffee, Vegemite on toast. Then plop on perfect poached egg - perfect breakfast.
E@L is now in Izzy and D's kitchen in Den Haag. He cricks his neck, as he has slept on the couch [it's a brilliant couch for sleeping on actually, no neck stiffness at all, that line about cricking his neck was a joke - crriiiiickk], and his coffee from the elaborate Impresso machine in hand (in a cup), ready for breakfast. It's 11am, D is already at work, Izzy and E@L about to cook - it's just the old team back together.
OK, poached eggs it is. Let's follow the recipe, why the fuck not?
Find a plate that fits into the saucepan. This plate is too big, that one maybe too small. Maybe it's the saucepan than is too big, too small. This plate, a tea-cup saucer, it'll have do. Already with the compromises. Heston NEVER compromises. Water is already 80deg, wow, they have a temperature guide on their kettle, awesome. Gas on, water in, saucer in. A bubble is trapped under the saucer and it won't sit flat. E@L goes to put a finger in to turn it up - stupid child! He catches himself in time and uses the slotted spoon instead! The water in the pan cools quickly according to the thermometer - a large nail on a long wire to a digital readout that Izzy holds. With her other hand Izzy adjusts the flame, monitoring, adjusting, monitoring, the thermometer dutifully beeps at 80. She moves around him to get the slotted spoon and E@L sees the mystical Thai tattoo on the nape of her neck. They keep tripping over each other in the small kitchen, but poaching an egg takes two people, right?
Egg one: E@L cracks the egg and already there are drops of albumin on the bench-top, already a mess in the making. The slotted spoon lets the thinnest fluids drain away, tick and the egg slides in and there is not enough water - the top of the yolk is exposed. Izzy turns the kettle on again. E@L spoons water over the top of the yolk as the albumin, slowly, ssslllooooooowwwlllyyyy whisps towards coagulation over the yolk. A bubble burps from under the saucer, Izzy adjusts the flame, the thermometer beeps, the kettle clicks off, she adds the water, E@L stops spooning.
Egg two: E@L holds the slotted spoon this time, and he tries his patented one-handed egg-crack and shell-split manoeuvre but some sort of surface tension threshold is breached and ALL the albumin slips from the shell through the slots of the spoon, leaving, plop, only a naked yolk. Mmmmm, obviously not fresh enough. Slide it in.
Egg three: crack OK this time, drain OK, slide into the water OK, but there is another bubble fart from under the saucer and, still amorphous, the egg slides like a plasmatic ghost escaping an exorcist over the ridge of the bottom of the saucer to rest on the forbidden bottom of the saucepan, at the edge. It soon starts to set in the shape of a croissant (a buttery pastry in the shape of a Muslim flag's crescent moon, I suppose you knew that), but E@L cannot coax it back up onto the saucer.
Egg four: see egg three, damn.
Ka-chunk: toast pops up, butter, Vegemite (in Den Haag! Awesome!)
Izzy's iPhone egg-timer beeps. Four minutes: first one out. Let it drain on slotted spoon. It seems very wobbly, maybe because the yolk was exposed early (like a teratogen to a fetus) and couldn't cook. Shit maybe it WAS six minutes (we are working on the memory of a TV show watched last night, maybe on dope). Second, the yolk, out. Not much to drain. Another minute and then E@L scrapes the two croissant eggs of the wall, drains them and slips them onto Izzy's plate. She has some watercress decoration.
The first egg was indeed nicely done. The white set in a nice oval and was firm but not chewy, the yolk was yellow on it's outer orb and deep orange inside, runny but not liquid, almost perfect. The yolk-only one good as far as you can expect a yolk to be, very runny too but somewhat embarrassed. E@L enjoyed them, despite the mess on his shirt from the runny yolks.
Izzy's two are overcooked and misshapen, obviously, the whites were over-firm, the yolks pale on the outside and not very runny. Maybe it should be less than four minutes if the egg rests on the saucepan's surface...
Only one of our four patients' operations went as planned, Dr Izzy. Not quite a perfect session. But there'll always be more googy-woog patients from where they came.
Izzy nudges clumsy E@L in his fat belly. Perfect in other ways.
* we are doing some day-surgery stuff, various endoscopy things