The BBC recently reported the discovery of the skeletal remains of a young person from Borneo who had survived the surgical amputation of their lower left leg over 31,000 years ago making it the oldest example of humans performing a successful complex medical procedure.
This report was on my mind last Friday as I waited in pre-op for my hernia surgery to begin. If you are curious, the hernia came from too many Saturdays spent cutting, splitting, and hauling firewood after my dad along with many other people in the Dark Corner declared their own version of energy independence in the 1970s. Back then, land was cheap and hardwoods were plentiful. No one gave much thought to handing a chainsaw to a 13-year-old and turning him loose.
Back in pre-op, in between the ubiquitous visits of orderlies, nurses, and doctors repeating the same questions, I thought about how far we had come and how well our healthcare system performs. During my surgery research, I discovered that the NHS wait time for hernia surgery in Great Britain is 57 weeks from the date of referral. Compare that to the two weeks wait that I experienced. And I am sure that the 31,000 year old teenager from Borneo did not wait 57 weeks for an amputation. So much for the progress promised by socialized medicine.
During the two weeks wait, I was offered a choice of surgical procedure between an open incision or robotic assisted. I chose the open incision route because it did not require general anesthesia (with its unknown cognitive effects) and it did not involve robots. I don’t like robots and I don’t like seeing robots taking over the jobs of American workers . . . anyway, pardon my sidetrack into the political nonsensical.
Along with open incision, I chose the bio-degradable mesh option as the material for hernia repair. Between the implants in my brain, the battery in my chest and the mesh in my abdomen, I am well on my way to being a transhuman (not to be confused with a transgendered human) or a cyborg. Which may explain my aversion to robots.
As luck would have it, my recovery time corresponded with the death of Elizabeth II. I was able to watch her entire funeral guilt free on Monday. Not that I am much of a Royals fan (British nor Kansas City), I admire the Queen for her role in keeping the Soviets at bay. The very presence of a functioning European and openly Christian monarchy posed a constant challenge to communist doctrine. Plus, you cannot beat the Brits for royal funeral pageantry. They elevate it to performance art.
I also admired her work ethic. She was working, greeting Britain’s new prime minister, just two days before she died at age 96. I wonder if she called the new PM’s attention to those NHS wait times.