Friday, May 02, 2003

It's Friday and that means it's time for another....Amputee of the Week.

In 1797, in an unsuccessful attack on Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Britain's greatest naval hero -- Admiral Lord Nelson -- was struck in the right arm by a grape-shot or musket ball just above the elbow. It shattered the bone so badly that amputation (without an anaesthetic) was essential. Nelson's surgeon wrote that "Nelson bore the pain without complaint but was given opium afterwards." I'd say he damn well deserved it. For the rest of his life, Lord Nelson experienced compelling phanton limb pains, including the sensation of fingers digging into his phanton palm. The sensations led the Salty Sea Dog to claim that he now had "direct proof" of the existence of a soul. If an arm can survive physical destruction, his argument went, why not the whole person?

For enduring amputation without analgesia and for single-handedly (geddit...single? hand? amputation?....oh, forget it) winning the Battle of Trafalgar, Admiral Lord Nelson is the new Amp of the Week.

Discuss "Beyond Northern Iraq"


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