Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Michael Ceraolo writes

July 24, 1881


An incision for drainage
‘Minor’ surgery with no anesthetic
Held still
Didn’t even flinch, 
no need to make things   
more difficult for myself


I did not flinch from what I saw  
as my duty to the country

Bell Scans Garfield -- Stephen Kroninger

[Michael has composed "Eighty Days," dramatic monologues for each day from July 2, 1881 through September 19, 1881 (from the day president James Garfield was shot until the day he died).]

1 comment:

  1. Garfield was shot twice, once in the right arm and once in the back. The 2nd bullet broke 2 ribs before lodging in fatty tissue behind his pancreas. Neither wound was considered particularly dangerous, especially if the 2nd bullet could be located and removed. He was treated by an expert in ballistic trauma, Dr. Doctor Willard Bliss (that's right, his name was Dr. Doctor), who continuously searched for the projectile with unwashed fingers and unsterilized instruments. In Boston, Alexander Graham Bell (already famous at 34 as the inventor of the telephone) developed an "induction balance" (metal detector) to help Bliss in his task. It consisted of a wooden handle, a battery, a condenser, and a telephone receiver. Bliss invited him to the White House to test his device on 26 July, 3 weeks after his wounding. But Bell assembled it improperly, causing it to make a sputtering noise. Bliss passed it over Garfield's back, while Bell held the receiver to his ear, but the sputtering made hearing difficult. Bell detected sounds but they were “uncertain and indefinite,” and he failed to locate the bullet. When Bell discovered his mistake he returned on 1 August but Bell only let him examine one side of the president's torso. Bell heard a weak noise that did not resemble the usual signal when it detected metal, and Bliss insisted that this proved his mistaken belief that the bullet was lodged in the liver, on the patient's lower right side. Bell returned to the White House the next day and found out that Garfield slept on a mattress made of steel wires; he tested an identical mattress and once again heard the weak signal he's heard the previous day, but Bliss wouldn't allow him to examine Garfield again and continued to probe for the bullet in the wrong place. Bell continued working on his device and eventually developed a machine that battlefield surgeons used for decades to find hidden bullets.


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