Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. Don’t try this at home without expert supervision.
On Tuesday in the small storefront of the Best Made Company in Tribeca, a young ER doctor spent two hours leading a room full of professional New Yorkers in slicing open, and then suturing closed, a dozen pigs feet. Field Medicine: Suturing Workshop, it was called.
By nine o’clock, the room was relatively comfortable in the principles of stitching up flesh, in the event that any one of us find ourselves deep in the woods and in desperate need of medical attention.
I was there because of my interest in the quaint economy, the marketing of an antiquated lifestyle as aspirational (and generally expensive), not because I had any intention of ever cutting myself while alone in the deep wilderness. But I strangely found myself with the most experience of anyone in the class. I guess I hurt myself a lot.
Sutures? Had them plenty of times: in my face as a child, inside my mouth as a teenager, and most recently along the length of my left thumb after I broke it.
Staples? Yep, once in the back of my head after an unfortunate play-wrestling match.
Skin glue? Sure, that’s how my last surgical scar was closed.
About halfway through the class I realised knowing a bit about suturing is a lot more relevant to my life than I had ever realised. I embraced the quaint economy. I was even sort of excited about hiking through the wilderness? There’s nothing like standing in a room full of shiny $US300 axes to make you feel like maybe a rugged lifestyle is pretty chic.
I found myself aspiring to the outdoors. Or at least purchase a hunting jacket for a theoretical wilderness escape from the cacophony of the city sometime in the undefined future.
Whoever figured out that this was the way to get young urban professionals to open their wallets is a genius.
First we opened our box of materials. The suturing kit included scissors, a needle holder, a clamp, forceps, a scalpel, a syringe, suture needles with thread, and gloves.
We practiced some free-form sewing, then got down to business. The first step is to anesthetize the wound. We had syringes and used water in place of anesthetic, but alcohol works too, in a pinch.
Then clean the wound. We squirted an iodine and water solution in the wound using a syringe. Clean water is not great, but is better than nothing.
And now for the sewing! We started with a 'surgeon's knot,' which is sort of like a square knot, with the thread looped through itself one extra time. Then we added three more square knots on top of it.
We practiced a 'simple interrupted stitch,' which is where you tie off the thread after every stitch. According to the doctor, it makes for a prettier scar than a 'running' stitch, which ties off only at the ends.
After practicing with the big thread for an hour or so, I tried using the smaller thread that's used on face wounds. Harder for sure, but not so bad.
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