Did you realize that doctors here in America still use cauterization as a method for closing incisions and wounds? What freak’n year is it? Do I live in America or Mozambique? We got rid of leeching but not cauterization? Perhaps there is still a place in society for it. I suppose reviewing the times I’ve experienced it would shed some light on its usefulness.
It is the spring of 1983 and I’m 12 years old and I suddenly found myself sneezing almost non-stop. I had never experienced something like this (but it’s continued for the nearly 30 years since). The last straw was when I woke up one morning with a bloody shirt, a bloody pillow and screaming my head off because I honestly thought I was dying. Turned out I had severe allergies and had ruptured my nasal membrane. What was the cure back in the 1900s for such a thing? You guessed it. Cauterization. I honestly don’t remember much of it because I have blocked most of it out, but it hurt like hell and that smell of my own flesh burning persisted for weeks. But hey, great news, it stopped the bleeding if not the sneezing.
Ten years later, Clinton was President (and still had a wasteline) and I found myself proudly holding my third child (and it was almost our 3rd wedding anniversary). We decided that perhaps 3 kids was enough. So I went in and got a vasectomy. Now back in those barbaric days with their backwards 20th century ways, they use to filet your sack completely open like a fish, cut the tubes and yes, cauterize the ends. This I have not been able to block out from my memory. I wake up most nights in a cold sweat remembering the smell of my burning flesh. How could I forget. It was as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. But no more kids (at least till I had the vasectomy reversed), so maybe medical cauterization works.
But that was so last century. Certainly we have left that all behind (at least till Obamacare fully kicks in) right? Right? Apparently not. In a previous review I reviewed cryogenic removal of skin tags and if you recall I did not recommend it. I strongly recommended at the time that you should insist on the “Just lop them off with a scalpel” method. So when I went in to have more tags removed, I took my own advice and insisted on them just cutting them off. And they did, and it hurt but I was content because I knew they would all be healed up within a week. She was almost done, and being completely numb in the area she was removing them I was blissfully unaware that she had closed the wounds with (you guessed it) cauterization.
I could not have been more surprised when she said “OK, I’ve got them all cauterized and those will scab over, turn black and fall off within a few weeks.” What the hell? She leaves the room and I rush over to the mirror and sure enough I look like someone whose father use to punish them by putting out his cigarettes on their neck. It hurt and it kept on hurting for weeks, and guess what? 6 weeks later I still have scars from it and I’m afraid I will have them forever. You know there is this stuff kind styptic powder that staunches the flow of blood instantly without causing additional harm.
Don’t doctors have to take some sort of oath about not causing additional harm? I don’t know. I’ve decided I’m not a huge fan of medical cauterization but I must admit it does work and for that I will give it one star. Why not more? Because it’s completely barbaric and stupid that’s why. If your doctor ever says they’re going to use it, go ahead and say yes and when they go to do it, grab the cauterizer and stab them in the frick’n eyeball and see how they like it. Stupid doctors!
Friday, October 14, 2011 JustJim