The only surgery I’ve had was after some inattentive goon in an SUV made a wide right turn in front of me at a Boston intersection, which sent me flying off my Vespa and into a fire hydrant.
Shattered right ankle, mostly. What I remember most vividly about the incident is how the city ambulance seemed to have no suspension whatsoever, so the entire time between the accident scene and Boston Medical Center we were hitting Boston’s ubiquitous potholes. Everything in the ambulance — including my shattered ankle — would bounce violently.
What a relief it was when we arrived at the emergency room and they gave me a shot of pain killer. And then put me under for emergency surgery.
I was in that hospital bed for a couple of days and nights while they gave me shots of glorious morphine every four hours — I watched the clock closely, let me tell you.
And I remember thinking, “I cannot imagine that they used to do all of this without pain killers of any kind. Surgery without being asleep.”
Life before general anesthesia must have been grim and terrifying.
A 31,000-year-old skeleton missing its lower left leg and found in a remote Indonesian cave is believed to be the earliest known evidence of surgery, according to a peer-reviewed study that experts say rewrites understanding of human history.
An expedition team led by Australian and Indonesian archaeologists stumbled upon the skeletal remains while excavating a limestone cave in East Kalimantan, Borneo looking for ancient rock art in 2020.
The finding turned out to be evidence of the earliest known surgical amputation, pre-dating other discoveries of complex medical procedures across Eurasia by tens of thousands of years.
By measuring the ages of a tooth and burial sediment using radioisotope dating, the scientists estimated the remains to be about 31,000 years old.
Palaeopathological analysis of the remains revealed bony growths on the lower left leg indicative of healing and suggesting the leg was surgically amputated several years before burial.
Dr Tim Maloney, a research fellow at Australia’s Griffith University who oversaw the excavation, said the discovery was an “absolute dream for an archaeologist”.
The stuff of nightmares.