Life in a World Without Anesthesia
The 19th century saw many advancements in the area of medicine, but none were
more welcome than the discovery of anesthetics. In fact, living with pain and
being fully conscious during surgery was an established fact before the 1840s.
Here are two letters written first by a man describing his leg being amputated
and the other a woman having her breast removed. Both patients were fully conscious
during the operation and as their letters show, surgical skill in this pre-anesthetic
age was more a skill of speed than nuance.