No AnesthesiaSubmitted by RoadSong at 2009-03-12 17:55:12 EDT
Rating: 1.42 on 33 ratings (33 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
Jane Todd Crawford was dying and she knew it. She lived on the Kentucky frontier 200 hundred years ago, and was a slight woman, 46 years of age. She rode her horse 60 miles to reach a town that had a doctor, his name was Ephraim McDowell. He had no degree to practice medicine, but was known on the frontier as a fine surgeon. He diagnosed an abdominal tumor, this was a death sentence.A hopeless condition, the abdominal cavity was off limits to what could safely be explored in 1807.
McDowell told her he was willing to experiment on her, to open her abdomen and attempt to remove the tumor.
Jane agreed ...she had no alternatives.
Ephraim turned his kitchen into an operating room.
All laid out on a small stand nearby.
Operation proceeded with five men attendants to hold Jane down.
1.Long incision to left of mid line extending to rib margin above to pubis below.
2.Tumor in full view-movable.
3.Tumor not deliverable thru incision in abdomen, it was opened and gelatinous contents evacuated, whereupon the intestines rushed out of abdomen and were exposed for the rest of operation. Tumor weighed 22 pounds.
Jane kept her focus and stayed out of shock by singing songs.
Within 5 days Jane was making her own bed, and in 25 days she went home. She lived another 33 years, outliving her backwoods surgeon with the pioneer spirit by 33 years.
Her case proved the curative potential of surgery in the previously hopeless cases involving opening of the abdomen.
Jane Todd Crawford still has a presence in my mind, her house still stands and I pass by it often.
I have done photo documentation of her house, it is a wonderful house still, sitting back from the road with a large tree in front, there is even a bench there under the tree that looks as if Jane herself last sat there. There are many fireplaces and large rooms graced with windows. The barn out near the pasture is as big as a football field.
The house sits empty and waiting and I have been spending some time alone in it. I wish to commune with Jane and laud her courage. Perhaps she will share her story with me. Will she communicate and tell me how it was that Christmas day 200 years ago when with no anesthesia she felt the scalpel slice, and her intestines rush out of her body?
Photo documentation of her house has to this point been done during daylight hours, but tonight I go to her house alone to spend the night. I will see if the things I have captured during the day with my camera are real. There is a persistent mist in several photos, forming a shape and looking rather solid. Curious methinks. I have asked several people to come with me and spend the night,
An entire family disappeared from this house recently, and they are not the first.
Not seen or heard of again.
Jane Todd Crawford had courage, I salute her and her surgeon Ephraim McDowell.
I also salute the horse that carried Jane 60 bitter miles that cold December morning.