Do-It-Yourself Surgery: The Uninsured

...my proclivity for performing surgery on myself began when i was eleven years old...i'd contracted a plantar wart on the heel of my left foot, probably from walking around the yard without shoes, and because i didn't know it was a wart i thought i could simply scratch it away...i dug at the wart constantly, pulling at the disgusting mound of skin that seemed, the more i dug down, to get larger and larger...finally, i resorted to taking a safety pin, sterilizing the tip over the flame of our gas stove, and piercing the open sore...by then it was not exactly the size of a dime, but it was getting there, and until i used the needle it hadn't bled...

...that's what caused Grandma to notice it, the blood...i left little stamps all over the carpet...at first she blamed her dog, an ancient sheltie who, the year before, had bitten into her own stomach because, the vet told us, she thought she should have been pregnant...but when a thorough inspection of the dog turned up no evidence of a bleeding wound, i was next for the magnifying glass...i held up my left leg, balancing on the kitchen counter, and showed Grandma the blood-crusted crater in my heel...a few days later my mother took me to the doctor and i was given a vial of caustic-smelling liquid...i was to drop a little of it into the hole in my foot each day...it turned the blood black and when it dried it flaked into what looked like little seeds that deposited themselves on my white socks...after a few weeks of more digging and medicine, the wart left me with a small pock mark and the desire to dig into my skin with a sterilized safety pin...

...but i didn't become a cutter, or a person obsessed with piercings...instead, whenever i--or anyone i knew--had a splinter or hangnail, i grabbed the nearest safety pin and offered up my services...

...a few months ago, i began to have nearly dibilitating pain in my jaw coupled with what felt like the end of a toothpick poking into the very back of my tongue...what i thought was a toothache was actually necratic bone...according to my dentist, when i had my wisdom teeth removed (yes, i went to a surgeon for this, i didn't do it myself) a part of the root was left behind...for some reason, these fifteen years later, that part of bone wanted out of my system...but instead of dissolving into my body like that unwanted twin in the womb, my jaw bone was now making its way through my gum and out of my body..."You're the third person I've seen this week with this problem," he told me. "That's a tip of the bone you're feeling with your tongue. I'm going to give you a prescription for a painkiller and mouthwash for the open sore, but you'll probably be able to break it off with your thumb nail."

"Really?" I said.

...he nodded...it was the first time i'd ever been encouraged to perform surgery on myself...


...a couple of days later, the tip of the bone was larger, causing the side of my tongue to bleed...i couldn't take the pain anymore so i stuck my thumb in my mouth, got the nail caught on the bone, and scraped...it took a couple of tries, but finally a small piece of bone--perhaps the size of a sea salt granule--broke off into my mouth...a few minutes later the pain began and i promptly inhaled some vicodin...i called my dentist to explain what happened and he was pleased he wouldn't have to schedule me for surgery...i kept the piece of bone in a napkin for a few days until one of my cats pounced on it and my bone particle was lost forever...

...recently, my mother called with news of her own do-it-yourself surgery...apparently, my step-father had a subcutaneous cyst under the skin between his thumb and finger...after a quick search on the internet, my mother not only diagnosed my step-father, but had also found a way to remove the cyst at home:



...since my mother and step-father are retired and don't have medical insurance (don't get me started) this option was perfect for them as my step-father was nearly crippled from not being able to open and close his hand...

...out came the exacto knife...my mother sterilized it over an open flame and wiped it with rubbing alcohol...she prepped my step-father by watching some more video:



...so...after watching these myself, what i find most interesting is the fact that the smell was the most disgusting part of the procedure, according to the self-proclaimed doctors...never mind the gaping holes left in the skin, the bare hands, the questionable operating rooms, or the fact that the second guy and his doctors seem to be drunk (i love the vomiting sounds in the background)...

...my mother told me, "I cut into that thing and it was like a volcano of puss."

"That's disgusting," I said. "Not to mention dangerous. You could've cut a nerve or tendon."

"It was just right there on the surface. We knew what we were doing. I filled up the hole with Neosporin and we bandaged him up. He's fine."

...and so he is...type two diabetes didn't keep his hand from healing and he's been pain free for weeks...i'm not sure if i should applaud my mother or insist that she find a healthcare provider...

...for a few years now, i've had what's known as a Gideon's Knot in my right wrist...i've been hesitant to see a doctor about it because i'm right handed and any surgery in the wrist will curtail my writing...but after watching how the nuts on youtube resolve this issue:



i've decided that my list of do-it-yourself surgeries should not get any longer and i will be calling my doctor...although now my husband, just because he wants to be amazed, thinks we should try this: 

Comments

  1. I did not watch any of those. I am fine with poking at myself, in fact it's satisfying to squeeze puss once in a while... but I am not good at seeing other people pussing.

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