OF all the terrible places to wind up during this week’s blackouts — and boy, were there a few — lying on an operating table surely had to be among the worst.

That’s what happened to Adelaide woman Dee, who was just about to go under the knife at Flinders Medical Centre on Wednesday when the lights went out and everything suddenly turned into a B-grade horror movie.

“Everything just went black, and my blood pressure, I’m sure, went completely through the roof,” she told the ABC on Thursday.

“So I lay there on the table for about an hour while we waited for the Bureau of Meteorology to give some advice as to what was happening.”

What fun that must have been. I mean, I know it’s currently very trendy to do things “the old- fashioned way”, but I think even typewriter-toting hipsters draw the line at doing surgery by candlelight.

As we later found out from SA Health deputy chief executive Vickie Kaminski, Flinders’ back-up generators worked for only about an hour after the power went out because of a broken fuel pump.

That one fuel pump, the failing of which we have been told was apparently unforseeable, forced the relocation of 17 patients to Flinders Private, and delays to other patients awaiting surgery.

My friend’s mum is one such Flinders patient who’s been stuck on a waiting list, fasting for surgery, since Tuesday. They let her have a sandwich on Thursday night, the first food she’d eaten in three days.

She told my friend it was the best thing she’d ever eaten which, if you’ve ever had a hospital sandwich, is really saying something.

For her, and presumably many others at Flinders, what was going to be a routine in-and-out operation has since turned into a mild form of torture for the best part of a week.

And yesterday we learned a number of embryos at Flinders Fertility had died after the incubators lost power, devastating potential parents already going through a fraught and exhausting IVF process.

Rather puts your worries about the milk going off into perspective, doesn’t it?

I say “your” worries, but I’m referring to myself as much as anyone. I spent most of Wednesday night lying on the couch in the half-dark, listlessly swiping my phone and complaining that Twitter wasn’t working.

I was perfectly comfortable with a roaring gas heater, dinner cooked in a gas oven, a battery-powered radio and so many IKEA tea light candles my living room looked like the 1997 vigil for Princess Diana.

But without the TV, or Facebook, or email, or even the ability to call or text anyone, all I could think about was how annoyed and bored I was. It was like being a grounded teenager in 1995, but without the benefit of not knowing what you were missing out on.

Meanwhile all over the state businesses were - and still are - losing millions of dollars as stock spoils. Cows are in pain from going unmilked for days. Restaurants and cinemas and theatres have shut their doors as people stay home.

The last thing I want is to come off like one of those sanctimonious types who harps on about “first-world problems” whenever anyone complains about a power outage.

Blackouts are a major inconvenience; you’re allowed to complain about them even if the only disruption they cause you is not being able to update your Facebook status - particularly given how much we pay for our electricity.

But while you’re doing it just remember there are sick people still waiting for operations, business owners wondering how to rescue their financial futures, and country South Australians who are still without power three days after the rest of us got it back.


First published in The Advertiser on October 1, 2016. CLICK HERE to read the original article.