An Account of the Early History of Surgery in Texas Page: 5
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nurses and scarcity of doctors, only then is one
able to understand some of these reports. I cannot
refrain from quoting one who recites with the frank-
ness of a Cellini without his vulgarity. The title
of this article is "Lithotomy-Operation under
Extraordinary Disatvantages." (s) I think you
will agree with me that the title is well selected.
"In December, 1871, I was called to see John
Frizzell, who told me that he had passed the tail of
a squirrel into the urethra, and the end had slipped
from his hand and passed into, or nearly into the
Frizzell was considered lazy and worthless,
and had married a young lady not long before.
I could not learn from any one that he had at any
time complained of disease of the urethra or blad-
der, and believing at that time that the vernicular
contraction of the urethra was from within out-
wards, I could not see how the accident he com-
plained of could have happened. However, I passed
a silver catheter into the urethra and found at the
neck of the bladder a substance that sounded like
a stone. He did not seem to be suffering very
much, and as I had an engagement the next day,
I appointed the day after to come and take it out.
I requested Drs. Oliver and Shaffer to assist me.
We met the day appointed, and in passing the
catheter in, it pushed the substance out of reach.
It was decided, as we thought the tail might come
out in pieces or by joints, not to operate.
In the spring of 1872, he came to me and said
that joints of the tail were passing but some lodged
against the glands, and if I would loan him a pair
of forceps he could take them out himself; this
I readily did.
In August, 1872, I was called to see a patient
at the house where he was then staying. I found
Frizzell very low and suffering very much, his urine
dribbling away from him continually. He begged
me to operate upon him at once, saying his suf-
ferings were such that he would prefer death to
life in such a condition. As it was then late in the
evening, I promised him that I would come back
the next day and try to relieve him. The next day
I solicited several of my conferees to assist me. It
was a long ride and the stigma of the "squirrel tail,"
as he was called, was such that no one would go.
I arrived there at eleven o'clock, P. M. He had
given me up and had been begging Mr. Wells to
try the operation.
I had no lithotomy instruments at all, and my
scalpel had been lost. I let him lie on a mattress on
the floor, and after having emptied the rectum by
enemas, I, assisted by three boys, put him under
the influence of chloroform, passed a silver catheter
into the bladder and gave it into the hands of one
of the boys to hold, whilst one held the chloroform
to the nose of the patient, the other holding a small
brass lamp, which was all the light we had. I then,
with a common pocket knife, cut into the catheter
about 15 lines above the anus and a little to the
left of the raphe of the perineum. I then passed
a probe-pointed bistoury into the urethra, holding
the button close to the catheter, passing it down to
the bladder; then off to the left, leaving the anus ten
or twelve lines. As soon as I got the cut suf-
ficiently large to get my finger in, I took out the
catheter and enlarged the opening a little more.
I found the stone present at the neck, and with a
pair of forceps removed it. It was about an inch
and a quarter long by an inch in diameter. I then
passed the catheter into the bladder and found a
much larger stone, but had no forceps long enough
to reach it. I turned around to find something
out of which to make an instrument with which to
supply the deficiency, when my atte::tion was called
to him as he seemed to be dying. Turpentine and
mustard were used very frequently to the extremi-
ties, and mustard applied to the wrists and abdomen.
As soon as he could swallow, stimulants were given.
Reaction soon set up, and with the usual treatment
he was soon well. I promised him at a suitable
time to operate on him again.
In the beginning of the winter I was informed
that he was much worse and wished to see me again.
I requested Dr. Oliver to get some lithotomy instru-
ments in Galveston. He could not buy any, but Dr.
C. W. Trueheart was kind enough to loan me a direc-
tor. I was then taken sick and confined for several
weeks. As soon as I could ride I visited him, and
with the assistance of Dr. Oliver, proceeded again
to operate. We passed the director into the bladder
and made an incision into the urethra, passed a
probe bistoury in, as before, and made a cut in the
same direction, to the left of the rectum. As soon
as the cut would permit the finger to pass into the
bladder, the director was withdrawn and the finger
used. The opening was enlarged very slowly and
carefully until we had extended it for about two
inches and a half; we then, with some difficulty,
drew out a stone one inch and a half thick by three
and a half long, and IN IT THE SQUIRREL'S
TAIL, of about five inches in length, one inch and
a half bent on itself. It was in good state of preser-
vation and looked very much like salted meat.
Owing to the great length of the cut we took two
stitches in it, prescribing the usual treatment, and
Here’s what’s next.
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Singleton, Albert Olin, 1882-1947. An Account of the Early History of Surgery in Texas, pamphlet, October 1932; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth143533/m1/9/: accessed April 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries.