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Anaesthetics for survival

Watching a cowboy film today where a cowboy needed some dentistry performed. Of course in those days it usually involved just pulling the tooth. The anaesthetic used then was either a bit of chloroform, ether, a bottle of whiskey or being knocked out.

I think we are quite a bit further advanced than that and we have the capability to repair and rebuild teeth and anaesthetics that will allow you to feel no pain. Either a local anaeshetic or a general anaesthetic depending on your needs.

Roll forward a few years and when our dental infrastructure is unavailable. We will be reliant on what we have stored. I already have a dental toolkit with the capability to put in fillings. Unfortunately it does not have local anaesthetic which you can use to numb your mouth nor a general anaesthetic for major work Thank you nanny state, again.

What does this mean for us? Well, we can perform dentistry, and other surgery, but we will have to improvise on the anaesthetics. After all we will probably be able to improvise some anaesthetics but I would guess they would be homemade ether, chloroform or good old alcohol based products. The problem we will have is none of these are going to be useable by everyone. They will require experience to use as you do not want your patient waking up in the middle of the work and you can’t go to far the other way or they won’t wake up at all. In addition getting drunk and knocking someone out doesn’t mean they will lay still. Drunks regularly flail around and knocked out people are restless so ether and chloroform will be the tools of choice. We had better learn how to make them, how to ensure their consistency and how to apply them. I can’t see local anaesthetics being available which will increase the risk for everyone as general anaesthetics are more risky than local.

I hope it is them anyway, I don’t fancy the punch to the jaw that this cowboy got as his anaesthetic. He needed two.

11 comments to Anaesthetics for survival

  • Skvez

    Ether and Chloroform kill people when applied incorrectly (which is all to easy for an amateur). I think you need the alcohol to numb them and straps to hold the patient in place.

  • Skean Dhude

    That is why we need consistency so we can calculate doses and experience of applying them.

    Alcohol won’t be any more consistent and not quite the same.

  • Dana

    Trust me, Anaesthesia is an area best left for the professionals. Anaesthetists are always backed up by lots of specialised equipment and also drugs to reverse the anaesthetic effects. General anaesthesia is way beyond the amateur, it is too dangerous to consider. This is why Anaesthesia is a medical specialisation for Doctors in its own right.

  • Skean Dhude

    Dana,

    Good point but needs must. Just like we will all have to do things we don’t want to we will have to learn things on the fly. At least we need to think about it and see what alternatives we have.

    People can die with alcohol posioing and they probably will die of whatever we wanted to do that we want the aanaesthetic for. It isn’t perfect but what will be then.

  • Dana

    The chances of getting hold of General Anaesthetics (GA) is slim to none, even post-sitx. I’ll be honest and frank here, but if one is needing a General, then there chances are slim anyway. Their chances would go down even more if someone is trying to do a GA on them.

    You would be far better off, providing a high dose of analgesics to mask their pain in their final hours and give them a dignified death, as you would assuredely kill them either under the knife, the actual anaesthetic or post surgical complications.

    We will have to accept that in a post-sitx scenario there will be a high mortality rate for medical conditions, especially surgery, that today we take for granted.

  • Skean Dhude

    Dana,

    I don’t disagree with you about accepting the number of deaths but I’m leaning towards trying to learn the skill rather than just accepting I can’t do it. I may save a life, albiet by luck rather than judgement, but if I don’t try I’ll have a 100% failure rate.

  • Dana

    Its not that simple Skean. Doctors take years to learn these skills and that is within a safe environment.

    When someone is having surgery done, not only is there a Surgeon or two present, plus scrub nurses, but also an Aneasthetist whose sole purpose is Aneasthesia and of keeping the patient’s airways open etc.

    As part of my training, I spent several months in an operating theatre environment, it does not make me an expert by any means and I have some knowledge of what they are doing, but I would certainly not even attempt general surgery let alone anaesthesia. even with all the best books in the world on the subject, there are far too many things that can and will go wrong – do no harm!

  • Skean Dhude

    Dana,

    I am not doubting what you say. In fact I accept it.

    What I am saying is that if we do not have that expertise after and event we will be forced to wing it. Deaths will undoubtably be high but what are the alternatives.Never to consider aneasthetics ever again?

  • Kenneth Eames

    In the Second World War the situation with regard to medicine was very bad. Many older doctors had to practice again. I remember an old doctor of 90 who carriede out ops using ether. Herbalists too, were recruited to do minor surgery. Last year, Tom Bartram died in his 90’s, and I remember him telling me that he worked in a Hospital doing minor surgery. He was a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists. I feel certain things could be done, such as suturing wounds. Remember not to close the wound completely to allow drainage. Kenneth Eames.

  • Saunders

    What about Nitrous Oxide? It can be stored in the form of Ammonium Nitrate (solid) and when heated with sand forms nitrous oxide and nitric oxide, if the gas is then bubbled through several peculators it scrubs out the nitric oxide leaving pure nitrous oxide. Remember to administer this with oxygen or the patient will die from hypoxia. It is a great aesthetic that is still used in dentistry, childbirth and other minor procedures today sold as Entonox (Mixed with 50% Oxygen) but this improvised version will also work. Or if you were prepared to keep a grow-bag with a certain type of poppy in it then you could go the whole way and administer opium. Many other anaesthetics and other medications can be made with things that can and will be found after SHTF (and I’m talking about in the UK, not in the US where you can go and buy anything from the “hardware store”). Chemistry is a good thing in which to be practised for long-term survival situations, especially if you’ve taught yourself with only things you can buy from Morrison’s or what is lying around in the garage.

  • tom

    i have been growing the larger variety of opium poppies for 3years now (papaver somniferum, giganteum), i dont extract the gum but they look good in our garden and on the roadside and i collect the seeds for more grows, but in a post sit-x environment there are several ways to extract opium from them, i have enough seeds to grow a field full and each year i get thousands more seeds, i like scattering them in unkempt gardens too beacause they make the estates look nicer. plus im still waiting for an allotment

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