How to perform surgery on myself
How I did it: While spending a few days in an Iban longhouse on the Rejang River in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo, J1 and I thought we'd take a jungle walk. We followed a trail that the Chief's son, Pig Hunter, had told us was nice and relatively safe. About an hour into our hike, we came across a little stream with cool clear running water. We sat and took our boots off to cool our feet in the stream. As I got out of the stream to put my boots back on, I stepped right on a thorn. I jumped up and landed on the same foot, lodging the thorn deeper where it couldn't be pulled out. With difficulty, I put on my boots and tried to walk. The pain was excruciating, impossible to walk, but the few steps I managed to take only pushed the thorn in deeper. I saw there was no choice. I needed to be operated on, but I would get no help from my squeamish friend. This would have to be, "Doctor, heal thyself." My supplies were limited, having used most up on the medical needs of the tribe members. With a match, I heated the blade of my Swiss army knife. Not having the luxury of JD to ease the pain, I gritted my teeth and cut a half inch gash where the thorn went in. I probed around until I found it, then, with the blade, I slowly worked it out. That was probably the most painful part of the procedure. I applied the little antibiotic ointment I had left on the wound and patched it with a few small bandages. I put my boot back on and with the aid of J1, was able to hobble to a landing on the river where a canoe took us to a village for semi-professional help before heading back to the longhouse. Here's a shot of me and Pig Hunter.
Lessons & tips: In instances like this, in remote areas, with no help around, you've got to do what you've got to do. You can't just give up and die. Looking back, it doesn't seem that big of a thing. At least I didn't have to amputate a hand pinned under a heavy rock.
Resources: A Swiss army knife is a great tool. It has come in handy on many occasions. Always carry bandages. Have the nerve to get the job done.