DIY, Surgery Edition


I do more things to my body within my own home under no supervision than is probably healthy.

I wonder when it’s going to bite back.

A few years ago, I dropped a dish and it shattered on the kitchen floor. I swept it up and threw it out and that was that…until two weeks later when one small piece that hid itself somewhere under a cabinet door reappeared in a rare moment in which I was barefoot*. Having moved my toes just the wrong way, the shard lodged itself in the ball of my foot and disappeared under a thick layer of skin. And I had to get it out.

It isn’t really that disturbing or even unhygienic of a story. Since I walk so goddamn much it’s no surprise that my feet are thickly callused, and through half-assed teenaged rebellion I became quite comfortable sticking sharp things into thick skin. I dipped the tip of a needle and a pair of tweezers in some hydrogen peroxide and ripped through the bloodless chunk of flesh until the last remaining memory of a plate was removed.

And there are the inadvertant medical procedures. I have – or had, as the story is to tell – a small mole under my chin that had a short but thick dark hair coming out of it. Nobody would notice except for me, of course, but I still kept plucking that hair out despite rumours that it’s a terrible idea to pluck from a mole. Sometimes being sloppy with tweezers, a few nicks have come with the process over the years, but they have scabbed and healed like all of the other cuts and scrapes I’ve encountered through my own luck. And now the mole is gone. Since I didn’t do this intentionally, I can’t coach you through self-performed mole removal, so save yourself from asking.

Now I’m curious about another at-home dermatological task. I’ve had a skin tag on the back of my neck since probably my third trimester in the womb. It’s only noticeable to me and those who have a fixated hatred of skin tags. It doesn’t hurt, but thinking of how it could hurt if it encountered a sharp object brings out the occasional wince. There are, apparently, kits you can get at the drug store to do this. But unlike my ceramidectomy on this I’m reluctant.

I’ve seen worse examples of amateur surgery before. In my five years of working at a photo lab one of the brightest shining memories is, with some of the hilarious context removed for simplicity’s sake, a roll of film being developed featuring photos of an at-home toe amputation. I’ve cut off parts of my toes before (calluses of course, ingrown toenails and draining blisters) but this was a full big toe. It wasn’t for sport – in the before pictures this podiatric digit was not of a natural human colour – but this man and his friends sure jumped on the opportunity to make the best out of a gangrenous situation.

I will never go so far as to explicitly recommend cutting into your own body for whatever purpose. Whatever you do, try to stay safe. Perform the procedure slowly. Disinfect instruments first. (If you don’t have any hydrogen peroxide, clear liquors may do.) And if you’re doing this with friends, one of whom has a camera, make sure the photos are developed at a closed off lab, with staff who will be professionally discreet in handling them – at least, that is, to your face.


* This may be misleading given my habit of shoelessness, but I really do enjoy socks. They are much more comfortable on my feet than they are on the hands of men who think they’re funny.


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