The art of amputation

So, I had an injection into my shoulder this week. Bit of a change to be on the receiving end of a jab of power but just goes to show it all comes full circle. Raced up to the hospital, had a quick check to make sure the surgeons hands were steady, shirt off, lay still and then bit down. 2 inch needle, right into the joint space, x-ray to make sure all is well and then hardcore steroid – the drug of dreams – just where it was needed.

In fact it didn’t hurt half as much as I was expecting. Being a big girl I read with trepidation the fact I wouldn’t be able to drive after the procedure, unfortunately, I only read that bit after I had arrived at the hospital, so I was genuinely hoping for the best in any case. As it turned out, the rock steady hands of Mr Cox found the spot with well practiced ease and with the needle in situ, pausing only to ask me how best to clip out his recently acquired poodle cross shih-tzu, he cracked on the with the job.

Of course, as far as conscious hospital procedures go, I was getting away with it lightly. Anaesthetic gases weren’t developed until the 1840s, and whilst anyone injured in the American civil war was probably pretty thankful of that, before they came into play the patients of those times really had to tough up. A little injection into the shoulder joint would have been a walk in the park compared to say, having a limb chopped off with a rusty saw. A sobering thought is that in about the same time it took Mr Cox to inject me into my shoulder, a British Army Surgeon in the Napoleonic wars would have amputated a leg or two.

Of course the legend of amputations was none other than Robert Liston, who on 21st December 1846, performed a thigh amputation in a reported 25 seconds. Liston was a big guy with very sharp knives and aside from someone having a go with an axe, I think that record is going to last a fair few centuries yet. I was doing one on a dog a couple of weeks ago and estimated it would take me 20minutes. 40mins later there I was, still stitching it up. Liston would have been shaking his head in despair. Just goes to show, no matter how much medicine progresses there is always room for improvement – especially now I have two shoulders working again.