Self-surgery is the act of undertaking a surgical procedure to treat an injury by repairing or improving ruptured areas of the body – by oneself for oneself, out of survival necessity.
This skillset is extremely unlikely to be needed to most people in most cases but at the same time, it can be needed by anyone at anytime. When a severe bodily injury occurs and surgical intervention is immediately required but professional (or another professional than yourself) aid such as a doctor, medic, nurse or hospital is not available or situationally not ideal.
In such a scenario, self-surgery is not only the last resort but the only resort; gunshot wounds, deep lacerations, foreign objects embedded in the body.
Years ago in Baghdad I was stabbed in the thigh with a rusty screwdriver, of which a chuck of rusted steel was left behind inside. I couldn’t go to a hospital because of certain circumstances and walking was not possible without treatment.
Luckily, the hostile missed my femoral artery (it seemed he was aiming for it) but I had to assume further movement such as walking, might nick that artery and I would bleed out in minutes.
I tucked myself behind a dumpster and used my limited trauma kit to extract the metal out of my thigh, stopped the bleeding then sutured the puncture.
More recently, I was in a motorcycle accident in rural Vietnam. I fractured my forearm and hand in 2 places with a laceration on the palm, down to the bone. As it was raining and muddy, I had to clean out the wound and remove protruding flesh from my palm on the way to the hospital while in the taxi.
The hospital was barely that and they did a poor job on my stitches. Once I checked into a nearby hotel, I removed the stitches, better cleaned the wound and did my own suture procedure.
If I hadn’t personally intervened to self-surgery, I may have suffered a serious infection or at worse, death. Both wounds healed up nicely since.
This is one of the many reasons why even the most basic first-aid training and essential knowledge of the human anatomy can be so vital, regardless if you work in a cubicle or a war zone.
Self-surgery isn’t just about medical skills but the right mindset, to be able to open up and handle the insides of your own body and make a difference.
Fortunately, if self-surgery is necessary, most people’s minds can push through it.