Stories of high adventure and backwoods emergency appendectomy

What kind of complications can come up from surviving an emergency appendectomy by non-physicians?

By way of example, there’s the celebrated case of Wheeler Lipes, a pharmacist’s mate serving on a U.S. Navy submarine in 1942, who pulled it off using surgical tools fashioned from spoons and, one presumes, ample amounts of chewing gum and baling wire. The patient survived the surgery, and was reportedly back on his feet within two weeks, but died two years later from an enemy attack.

It’s amazing to me that a pharmacist’s mate had enough training to do this kind of work. I would guess he at least had some field medic training, involving cutting out infections and tying off sutures, your basic “patching up bullet holes” kind of thing. Assuming Lipes had sufficiently-sterilized equipment, and assuming the internal and external stitches held long enough for the holes to close up, what kind of post-surgery complications could the patient have suffered from?

Tangentally, what other stories are there of emergency internal medicine performed by untrained personnel?

The most gripping passages in “Bore Hole” describe his various
attempts to complete the operation. They are also extremely gruesome,
and those who lack medical curiosity would do well to read no further.
Yet to those who might contemplate trepanation for and by themselves,
Joey’s experiences are a salutary warning.

Joey’s first attempt at self-trepanation was a fiasco. He had no
previous medical experience, and the needles he had bought for
administering a local anaesthetic to the crown of his head proved to
be too thin and crumpled up or broke.
Next day he obtained some stouter needles, took a tab of LSD to steady
his nerves and set to in earnest. First he made an incision to the
bone, and then applied the trepan to his bared skull. But the first
part of the operation, driving the spike into the bone, was impossible
to accomplish.

'After some time there was an ominous sounding schlurp and the sound
of bubbling. I drew the trepan out and the gurgling continued. It
sounded like air bubbles running under the skull as they were pressed
out. I looked at the trepan and there was a bit of bone in it. At

most deleted by mod

Okay, I supposed I should’ve excluded quackery in my question. :smack:

Tangentally, what other stories are there of legitimate, non-buffoonery emergency internal medicine performed by untrained personnel?

Tater, did you really type all that up in less than 12 minutes, or was it copy & paste?

The author must have been pretty high to come up with that kind of story OR if it is told/written as fact it sounds like a bellowing bull for of it.

The Incas or Astecs practiced trepanning using a flat tool with a rounded end to crush the skull bone by brute force and akwardness to produce four sided holes. It apparently worked as skulls have been found with two or more such procedures done over seveal years time. The researchers presumed the subject had more than alcohol to sustain him/her through the ordeal.

Aztec Trepanning Tool 1300 AD I happen to have a reolica of one of these from the '82 World’s Fair.

A cite for that charming story:

*Eccentric Lives & Peculiar Notions * by John Michell

More tales of self-surgery at

Aron Ralston and Lee Risler did some good work, but not in this guy’s league.

In one of the books by Alexander King (I forget which one), he describes an encounter in east Asia with a man who took a candelabra, sharpened the end and stuck it into his skull, and walked around wearing the thing all the time. When I read it, I could hardly believe it. But it’s true.