Picking through a Civil War book of which I'm quite fond I came across an atrocious image: masses of ravaged arms and legs, piled waist deep, gathering flies and rotting as a surgeon and his staff, covered in stinking, blood soaked leather and cotton aprons, began again on another poor soul.
The anesthetic being delivered came woefully from a single chloroform soaked rag and a prior heavy drink of whiskey. In the picture one of the men held the soldier’s head with that rag, covering his nose and mouth. This was the extent of anesthesia – and that being rarer as the war raged – that many a man received after having their limbs decimated by Minie balls, canon shrapnel, and grape-shot.
Surviving this extreme assault on an already destraught, damaged mind and body, the soldier faced the inevitable infection that would arise and hope, praying pitifully, that God would spare their lives. Many prayers were not answered and thousands died from postop complications.
We’ve made leaps and bounds in 140 years, people. As much as people don't understand anesthesia, I'm sure they're grateful that they don't have to undergo such horrors.