Better Living through Trepanation for Fun and Profit… or Something…

I get epic sinus headaches. It feels as if my head is going to explode. When that happens, nothing seems to help. And believe me, I’ve tried almost everything. At the height of my pain I’ve been known to ask people to drill holes in my head so as to relieve the pressure. Fortunately no one has ever taken me up on the suggestion.

Imagine my shock, though, when a friend recently sent me a link to the International Trepanation Advocacy Group. Seriously? There are still people out there who think it’s a good idea to drill holes in people’s heads? And they have a newsletter! For crying out loud, how much activity can there be in the world of trepanning that it merits a newsletter?

Their belief is that “making a [sic] opening in the skull favorably alters movement of blood through the brain and improves brain functions which are more important than ever before in history to adapt to an ever more rapidly changing world.”

Proving that any lunatic concept can gain a following, they actually got 15 volunteers to come forward to be trepanned, and found a surgeon crazy enough to perform the procedure. The site claims the people were satisfied with the results, but that the data was inconclusive.

Well, duh. Always assuming that when you expose the dura matter in your head to bacteria and infection you don’t wind up getting meningitis or some other malady, and that your surgeon doesn’t accidently drill too far and scramble your brains, you would be hard pressed, in my opinion, to then demonstrate any benefits of this procedure other than the fact that by some miracle you were still alive.

There was a guy named Bart Hughes in the 60’s who drilled a hole in his own head with a Black and Decker drill. He said the increased blood flow would be as good for the brain as ginkgo biloba. He should know. After all, he was a librarian. The man should have been placed in a rubber room and never let out.

I firmly believe that nature has a plan, and that evolution is its brilliant handmaiden. If having a hole in your skull actually made you a more effective human, I strongly suspect that nature wouldn’t have elected to cover your fragile brains with a hard coating in the first place.

Yes, there is sporadic evidence of trepanning throughout history, but that doesn’t vindicate the practice. You can also find evidence of bloodletting by leeches and intentional cranial deformation, but I’m not going to run out and do those things either.



Who Was the First Person to Think Lobster Would be Good to Eat?

Don’t get me wrong. I love lobster. I’d slap my mama for some lobster right now. But I’m trying to imagine the first lobster/human encounter. Here’s this ugly, spider-like thing with these big claws. How crazy would you have to be to say, “Let’s eat this bug-like creature!” I have similar thoughts about clams and oysters, artichoke, liver, haggis, peppers, and anything that requires fermentation.

I’d also like to meet the first guy who thought rappelling off a cliff was a good idea. Actually, anything that involves rope is kind of a sketchy proposition. Tightrope walking, window washing, rock climbing…someone had to be the first person to do all these things.

And imagine this conversation: “Mr. Smith, your heart is kaput. But I have this idea that I’ve been dying to try. Let’s replace it with the heart of a pig and see what happens.” And there is actually still a trepanation advocacy group, because lord knows we’d all be better off with holes drilled in our heads. And I’m convinced that mammograms had to have been invented by men. And what kind of a sick individual came up with electroshock therapy?

How would you like to have been the first person to get a tattoo or a piercing? And that Chinese foot binding thing? Please!

Humans. You gotta love ‘em.