Operating on myself: What could possibly go wrong?

As I have mentioned before, all surgeons think they are the best. Of course when we ourselves need surgery, there is a bit of a dilemma deciding who is the best qualified to carry out the procedure. So when I realized there was a strange looking skin lesion in my right inner thigh, I decided only the best would do to operate me.

In my rooms I informed the sister I would be carrying out a minor procedure. She immediately prepared everything as she had done for me many times before. Only once everything was ready did she look around suspiciously at the empty waiting room and ask where the patient was. I informed her I would be performing the procedure on myself. She was very nearly successful in suppressing a laugh.

Because the patient was a bit shy, and because of the precarious positioning of the lesion, I asked the sister to rather not be in the procedure room during the procedure but to wait outside, at least within earshot, just in case the surgeon ran into trouble.

Quite soon I had positioned myself in a sitting position, pants on the floor next to me and procedure trolley within easy reach. I carefully covered my important bits, just in case I would be required to call out for help, and got started.

Despite my severe needle phobia, the localizing of the area went well and I did not pass out, which I definitely viewed as a good thing. The only problem I had was that my left hand found it necessary to hold my block and tackle out of the operation area and this essentially left me with only my right hand free to do the operation. Fortunately I am that good that I could still remove the lesion with only one hand. Unfortunately, as I was soon to discover, I am not that good that I can tie surgical knots with only one hand.

I placed the first stitch without too much trouble, but I just couldn’t tie the knot. Every time I removed my left hand, my gear fell over the gaping wound making it impossible for me to go on. This is about the moment I discovered the walls in our rooms are surprisingly sound proof.

So, to summarize, there I sat alone in the procedure room with a large self inflicted wound in my inner thigh with one hand holding my wickets and the other trying to figure out how to close the wound, shouting in vain for the sister to come to my rescue. In the back of my mind I was a bit worried exactly what that rescue would entail. She would have to do one of two very important things. Either she would have to carry on with the operation and thereby deprive me the privilege of being operated by the best surgeon, or she would have to hold the family jewels out of the way.

Finally she heard my increasingly desperate supplications and came in. This time there was little laughter, what with my looking alone and forlorn with a large bleeding wound between my legs. Feeling a bit sheepish I explained my predicament and without too much pomp and ceremony, quite soon I could continue with the operation, my manhood totally at the mercy of my employee. I hoped then that I had been a good employer, but it was too late to turn back.

I threw in the sutures, amazed at the severe tremor my hands had developed. It may have been that I had been overcome with a deep concern for my patient, or at the very least his equipment. Whatever the reason, despite my shaking hands, I managed to get the stitches placed and close the wound with a plaster. Only once my pants no longer lay beside me on the floor, but had been returned to their rightful place and I felt less vulnerable did my hands stop shaking.

“bongi” is a general surgeon in South Africa who blogs at other things amanzi.

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  • sj0

    Great story, but don’t keep us in suspense! What did the pathology show?

    • http://twitter.com/Bongi1 Bongi


  • http://twitter.com/MedicalGirl Lori

    Priceless! Thank you for sharing lol.

  • ninguem
  • ninguem

    This one was back in the 1970′s.


    A medical student in Chicago, I believe, but it’s been some time. He had psych issues, to put it mildly. Feeling a need to suppress certain……urges…..he performed a self-castration under local anesthesia (orchiectomy).

    He went on, later, to feel a need to remove his own adrenals. That’s a tougher job. He dissected down, but experienced too much pain when he attempted to retract his own liver. He called paramedics, who brought him to a local hospital and the medical staff closed.

    It’s been a while since I read the story, so I might have some details wrong.

  • LastoftheZucchiniFlowers

    I too, believing I was best suited to the task, excised a dark, poorly marginated, flat albieit small (4mm), lesion on the volar aspect of one of my feet. Not quite the endeavour of your own effort, as I used a 5mm punch bx tool which was ideally suited to the task. But as I sat, cross legged on the table (at lunchtime with the door locked having told NO-one!) I began to feel a bit pre-syncopal and immediately thought, “NO! Am I THAT stupid?” The answer, of course, was “Yes” – and while I did not hit the deck. Forced one or two hasty interrupted bites into place, cleaned up my mess, thrust my sample into the formalin and have castigated myself ever since! I was a dunce for doing it but you KNOW how it is….am I REALLY going to ask a colleague to do this simple procedure which I’ve done hundreds of times?? Long story short: – B9 melanocytic spindle type which the bx fully excised

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