Posted on April 18, 2014 at 12:33 PM
This is how Fanny Burney described the mastectomy she received in 1811, a long time before effective anesthesia was available:
I mounted, therefore, unbidden, the bed stead. When the dreadful steel was plunged into the breast – cutting through veins – arteries ––flesh – nerves – I needed no injunctions not to restrain my cries… O heaven! – I then felt the knife rattling against the breast bone – scraping it!
If I had read that paragraph to my wife, she would respond by saying: “How do you think listening to that paragraph improved my day?” A fair point, no doubt. I guess I can only hope that sometimes remembering how bad things were helps us appreciate how good they are now.