Day 2 – SimMan and Laparoscopy

So, I was back at the SCSC on Wednesday 27th November, shadowing a Simulation technician training day and trying my hand at some virtual Laparoscopy. The latter was incredibly tricky, like trying to do precise tasks in the mirror, resulting in some very tense, crunched shoulders. I didn’t have chance to try the old school Laparoscopy training equipment, but it was interesting that elements of this were more realistic and I wondered if they would better serve the ‘psychological fidelity’ the centre is striving for. This included: torso shaped surface; skin-like material around the laparoscopic incisions; the graspers at the end of Laparoscope rods; and the potential haptic feedback that would result from picking up actual objects (haptic is being developed for the virtual machines, just not available in the demo model I tried).  

Virtual Laparoscopy

Virtual Laparoscopy

Laparoscopy Training Equipment

Laparoscopy Training Equipment

The training day included talks from a Laerdal technician about maintaining simulators, presentations about the SMOTS audio and video systems, which are multi-camera, multi-audio feed and a make-up session about creating realistic wounds. It was an opportunity to get hands on with the SimMan mannequin. This included discovering:

  • his ‘on/off’ switch

SimMan's on/off switch

SimMan’s on/off switch

SimMan's on/off switch

SimMan’s on/off switch

  • his skin feels better i.e. less sticky, when talc’d
SimMan being talc'd

SimMan being talc’d

  • he has a motherboard in his back, a router in his abdomen, a fan in his chest and he fits in a suitcase (Laerdal image)
SimMan in a suitcase

SimMan in a suitcase

  • his skin zips off

SimMan's torso zip

SimMan’s torso zip

SimMan's skin sleeves

SimMan’s skin sleeves

  • he has interchangeable genitals (he was in female mode that day)

SimMan – woman

  • if left on too long he gets warm enough to make trainees wonder if he’s simulating having a temperature! (Temperature control is not a built in feature of mannequins, neither is skin colour change or smell).

I’ll be back in December, putting some of this research into practice. Trying out the software that controls the simulators and spending more time getting up close and personal with the Sims.

Bauldelaire + Les/Le Revenants

One of my favourite programmes this year has been the French series ‘The Returned’ (in French ‘Les Revenants’). Set in a quiet, beautiful small French town in the alps?, the premise is that the dead have come back to life, “returned”, several years later, all at once. It’s exquisitely shot, connecting with the Zombie genre or ghost story premise but plays it out very differently (the character Camille mockingly says “je suis une zombie” but it’s the only mention of it). None of the “returned” look any different, they are not rotten, insubstantial or ghostly, but they do appear to have some special powers that are never completely explored, and they eat a lot. This openness is fascinating. Things happen but are never fully explained.

SimMan - Laerdal Patient Simulator

SimMan – Laerdal Patient Simulator

I’d been thinking of ‘The Returned’ in relation to the patient simulators. Simulators are also able to die and return, endlessly. Unless they break. Serendipitously, I came across the term “Les Revenants” in the recently exhibition “Witches and Wicked Bodies”, at Modern Two (The Dean Gallery), Edinburgh. It was mentioned in an old text, I think from the 1500’s, about witches, witches Sabbaths and other witchcraft practices, and so I discovered the term has historical relevance and currency. As a result, I’ve been researching the meaning and uses of the term “Les Revenants”.

Translations of revenant include:

“spirit, ghost, phantom, stranger….”

Interestingly, a poem was written by Baudelaire in the 1800’s entitled “Le Revenant”, as part of his “Fleur de mal” (Flowers of Evil) poetry collection .

Le Revenant

Comme les anges à l’oeil fauve,
Je reviendrai dans ton alcôve
Et vers toi glisserai sans bruit
Avec les ombres de la nuit;

Et je te donnerai, ma brune,
Des baisers froids comme la lune
Et des caresses de serpent
Autour d’une fosse rampant.

Quand viendra le matin livide,
Tu trouveras ma place vide,
Où jusqu’au soir il fera froid.

Comme d’autres par la tendresse,
Sur ta vie et sur ta jeunesse,
Moi, je veux régner par l’effroi.

— Charles Baudelaire

Multiple translations exist of this poem and the Fleur de mal website hosts a number of these. I’m looking for a text to hinge the performance on and maybe this poem with its multiple translations could be that text…