Not for the faint of heart
The most common surgical procedure in America is cataract surgery. The number one cosmetic surgery in America is breast augmentation. If we want to save money on health care perhaps if we didn’t do so many eye surgeries we wouldn’t have to do so many cosmetic surgeries to help us all look better. However the most common procedure in any health care facility today is something a bit more subtle. The wallet biopsy is deftly performed by any well-trained receptionist as you are checking in for your appointment. Without a successful wallet biopsy you likely wouldn’t make it inside the exam room door.
It is interesting to read about gifted surgeons who have saved lives with heroic actions. “Gifted Hands,” is the story of Ben Carson, one such individual who has changed the lives of many with difficult procedures. However amazing the accomplishments of Ben Carson, there are many other well-trained and gifted individuals that help to improve the lives others every single day. These are people that make a difference and we all tend to take their accomplishments for granted. Eye surgeries, joint replacements and cancer surgeries all rely on a vast quantity of training and technological advances and we all just assume a perfect outcome and the resumption of a normal life. But what if the surgeon wasn’t available? What if we were faced with a terrifying situation in a remote location? What if we were called upon to make the cut?
I happened upon an article that outlined the top 10 self-performed surgeries. That’s right, surgeries performed by the individual on themselves. Don’t let Medicare get wind of this, it may become a new idea to save money: no referrals unless you tried the surgery yourself and failed. Talk about a fixer-upper!
We have all heard the amazing and gut-wrenching stories about how someone’s arm or leg became entrapped and with heroic effort they amputated the limb in order to save their life. I can’t begin to imagine the effort and courage this requires. I had a hard time cutting off my own skin tag. I think cutting my arm or leg off would require some real grit. As incredible as these stories are, I have found others that will curl your toes.
Dr. Leonid Rogosvwas was a Soviet physician stationed in Antarctica. When he recognized the signs of appendicitis, rather than waiting for the appendix to burst and possibly cause sepsis and death, he performed surgery on himself. With the help of the meteorologist he successfully removed his own appendix. Apparently he passed out partway through the surgery but awakened and was able to complete the operation. The doctor recovered and was back on the job in two weeks but the meteorologist was a bit foggy. Workmen’s comp denied the claim.
I once knew a farmer who couldn’t urinate so he used a length of gas line from the farm supply story to relieve his distended bladder. For 20 years this worked, until he ended up in the hospital with a life-threatening infection. However a blacksmith from the Netherlands took this one step further. Joannes Letheaus, a blacksmith who lived circa 1620, suffered from a large bladder stone. Sending his wife to the fish market, he engaged the assistance of his brother. Using a specially prepared knife which he himself made, he held his scrotum to the side and with the knife he made an incision that he continually enlarged until he was able to remove a stone the size of a hen’s egg. Once the object of his torment was delivered he sent his brother to find someone to stitch him together. Whether he lived a long and productive life from that moment onward was never revealed but he did get rid of the stone.
The most amazing self-surgery occurred in 2000 and was performed by a 40-year-old mother of seven in a rural Mexican village. Alone in her rural home she went into labor. After nearly 12 hours of painful labor and no child she took matters into her own hands, literally. Taking three drinks of strong liquor, she used a large kitchen knife and performed a C-section on herself. After nearly an hour she finally reached into her own uterus and pulled out a living baby boy. She cut the cord with a scissors and promptly passed out. Awakening some time later she sent her 6-year-old son for help. Several hours later help arrived and she was taken by car to a hospital nearly eight hours away. She had further surgery to repair the damage she had inflicted upon herself but she made a full and complete recovery. In 2004, her case was recorded in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Suddenly the removal of my own skin tag seems rather trite.