I’ve added a new Category named Medical-Anesthesia.
A few notes about it:
1. I ran across a collection of old medical texts I hadn’t seen befoINre and got copies of them to look through. One of the things that really surprised me a bit were the number of books on Anesthesia dating back well into the 1800s.
While I remember posting a good bit in the past about the Medical book collection and discussing the impact of a serious medical emergency such as appendicitis in a post-collapse environment I think I did what all of us do when thinking about such things… I made the unconscious assumption that something as vital and (to us today) ubiquitous as anesthesia would not be an issue.
Rather I didn’t think of it as a non-issue as much as it didn’t even enter my mind as BEING an issue. After looking through some of these books I got a bit of a chill running down my spine. It’s one thing to contemplate having to perform an appendectomy on a family or community member in a post-collapse world. It’s quite another to contemplate having to do so without anesthetics.
These books are a compendium on 1800s and early 1900s anesthesia. Almost all of them focus on either Ether or Nitrous Oxide as the primary anesthetic and several of them write extensively about the production of them. In the Formulas Category there are several other books that I remember having information about the manufacture of both of those compounds so there is some overlap there.
2. As with any of the books on Medical topics in the Library I cannot stress too much that these are books from the 1800s and early 1900s. This was a period before the discovery of antibiotics, DNA and a plethora of other knowledge we take for granted today. It is virtually impossible to grasp the vast and overwhelming advances in knowledge that have occurred since then in our understanding of both the human body and the etiology, progression and cure of diseases. Indeed conditions that in the 1800s and early 1900s were simply dismissed as being caused by transient psychological problems (i.e. hysteria) we now know in many cases to be actual diseases with known and treatable causes.
The bottom line is that compared to modern medicine the information in these books is not only far less useful and effective than modern medicine but in many instances can be dangerous or fatal if used. The first rule for a Physician is believed to be “First do no harm.” While that is not actually part of the Hippocratic Oath it is still a good starting principle.
My advice is simple. Unless there is absolutely no other option than standing by and watching someone die in agony… don’t ever use any of the information in these Medical texts. Even then unless you are in a post-Collapse world where Attorneys and Liability Lawsuits are no longer a factor in day-to-day life don’t even think about using any of the knowledge in these books.
3. If there IS no other option and the Attorneys have all been devoured by true predators and there are no other medical resources available or the medical resources available require technology that no longer exists or functions then consider this… many of these texts are the result of the insane number of brutal injuries Doctors had to treat during the Civil War and WW1. Individual Doctors in those conflicts treated more injuries than most entire hospitals see in several decades of peacetime. While it is horrible to think about, the Doctors in those conflicts tried everything they could to save lives and sometimes, in desperation, found ways to save lives that no one had tried before. The bottom line is that they saved a lot of lives that would have otherwise been lost. It’s something to keep in mind. A Surgeon on the battlefield in WWI probably performed more surgery in a few years than a dozen modern surgeons perform in an entire career and under conditions that would leave a modern surgeon dumbfounded.
Bottom line is that the knowledge and skills and information in these books, in a post collapse world where there is no doctor is far better than standing by and doing nothing.
A post-Collapse world will, for a long time, be a brutal, savage, merciless and ruthless place. Simple survival itself, at both the individual, family and community level, will be a day-to-day struggle and not only will there be no guarantees but the odds will be strongly stacked against you. IN such an environment even the most rudimentary Medical skills could mean the difference between life and death.
4. Ideally it would be nice to have a wide personal Library of modern Medical textbooks covering everything from diagnostics through surgery through how to manufacture medicines and instruments. However, having a personal collection of modern medical texts myself and being married to a Nurse I am also faced with the stark reality that much of the knowledge in these books regarding treatment of injury and illness relies heavily on access to modern technology and manufacturing capacity. Those are both resources and materials that simply would not exist in a post-Collapse world. A book that prescribes a non-available medicine that cannot be manufactured in a post-Collapse world is somewhat less than useful. A surgical procedure that requires equipment that either is not available or does not function is just as useless.
A simple example suffices. Insulin since the 80s has predominantly been manufactured using recombinant DNA, a technology not likely to be available to folks in a post-Collapse world. The extraction of insulin from the pancreas of animals wasn’t discovered until the 1920s and once it became an industry relied on the availability of large numbers of pig pancreas. More importantly it relied on the existence of refrigeration since insulin degrades fairly quickly without refrigeration. In a post-Collapse world insulin production is not likely to be practical for a long, long time until a technological and industrial infrastructure is rebuilt. If it were manufactured it would require the widespread availability of refrigeration (which presupposes a functioning power grid) for practical distribution and storage. It would require rebuilding the infrastructure to a level comparable to the late 1920s or early 1930 to make insulin production and distribution a viable option.
Diagnostics techniques that require access to equipment much beyond the basic microscope or mechanical centrifuge are going to be problematical. We’ll be adding a Diagnostics Category soon.
So add the Anesthesia Books to your Library and then Pray to a Merciful God that you will never have need of them.
p.s. I also removed the NEW designation from categories that have been online for a while and have started afresh with this category and the Welding one added last week.