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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Butchered!

(Currently playing on the TV in my head, with warm scabby apologies to the fans of a certain Food Network staple…)

Hello, and welcome back to Butchered; I’m your host, Allen Ted. Today, we’ve asked four world-class surgeons from around the country to perform complex procedures on live patients — with just twenty minutes on the clock, and using only the surgical equipment supplied in their mystery baskets.

This round’s challenge was to complete a full non-laparoscopic open appendectomy, using:

  • one roll of extra-soft two-ply toilet tissue,
  • a pair of stylists’ pinking shears,
  • three ounces of Silly Putty, and
  • a bottle of rice wine vinegar.

Let’s visit the judges’ gurney to see how they did.

“Today, we’ve asked four world-class surgeons from around the country to perform complex procedures on live patients — with just twenty minutes on the clock, and using only the surgical equipment supplied in their mystery baskets.”

Before we commence with the judging, though, we should introduce the distinguished panel of judges joining us this evening. First, a man who taught the nation that both condoms and 18th-century seafarer beard styles could be cool, it’s former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop. Next, he’s the “incorrigible correspondent” who makes all of CNN’s medical coverage so compelling, Emmy award winner and practicing neurosurgeon, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. And last but not least, she’s gone under the knife herself more than seventy times, submitting to cosmetic procedures so often that she now resembles a cross-eyed mountain lion having a severe asthma attack, Ms. Jocelyn Wildenstein.

A warm welcome to our panel. Let’s get right to the judging.

Allen: You all know the rules here. If you performed a satisfactory surgery and the judges approve of your creative use of all the theme implements, then you’ll move on to the next round. But if you botched the job, killed the patient, or otherwise committed gross and negligent malpractice, then you will not be continuing in the competition; you will be butchered.

Allen: Our first surgeon today is Dr. Gilbert Hornblower. Dr. Hornblower, tell us how you approached today’s mystery basket.

Dr. Hornblower: Well, Allen, as you can see I went right for the pinking shears to use as scalpels. I used the vinegar to disinfect the blades, snipped out the appendix, and went with the bath tissue as gauze, held in place with Silly Putty. Judges, I hope you enjoy the patient.

Sanjay: Not bad, not bad. This is pretty nice work.

Jocelyn: I agree. It looks like those scars will be barely noticeable once he heals.

C. Everett: Hrmmm. I agree the procedure was all right — but I’m just not getting the Silly Putty here. You say it’s holding down the toilet tissue?

Dr. Hornblower: Um… yeah. I wanted to use a little more of it, but the time just flew by. Honestly, I felt like I’d just barely scrubbed up with the vinegar, and then the time was up.

C. Everett: Mmmm. I see.

Allen: Moving on, we have Dr. Gwendolyn Wu. Dr. Wu, it looked like you had some problems getting that tricky appendix out.

Dr. Wu: Yeah, Allen, I did. I decided the pinking shears weren’t going to be sharp enough, so I immediately broke the bottle of vinegar and went in with a pointy shard. But the precision just wasn’t there today, and I really struggled with the appendix. You know, my specialty is really mostly mole removal, so I was sort of out of my comfort zone out there today.

C. Everett: So you went with the shears as a clamp, instead. How did that go for you?

Dr. Wu: That wasn’t so bad. Once I finally got in there, I just treated the appendix like a big huge wart, and things started to fall into place.

Jocelyn: But the shards left a big gaping hole in the patient, didn’t they?

Dr. Wu: Yeah. They kind of did. Unfortunately, I used up most of the toilet paper in soaking up blood; there’s not much left in the dressing, but hopefully you can see where I was trying to go with that.

Sanjay: Mmm-hmm. I do want to commend your use of the Silly Putty in this challenge. Pressing it inside the wound to get a look around, like copying a comic from a newspaper — that was genius. Really well done.

Dr. Wu: Thank you. That means a lot. Is the… um, is the patient going to make it?

Allen: Our post-op care professionals say it’s a long road back for him, but he should pull through. You have not been automatically eliminated from the next round.

Dr. Wu: Oh, thank heavens!

Allen: Indeed. Next up is Dr. Reginald Douglas. Dr. Douglas, how was your experience with this challenge?

Dr. Douglas: Allen, I just wanted to show the judges my passion and heart for my work here today. I really put my soul into every incision and suture I make. Today, I present for your consideration an appendectomy performed with pinking shears sharpened with a rice wine vinegar bottle cap, featuring a fresh restorative poultice fashioned from moistened toilet tissue and thickened with a little Silly Putty. I also used the rest of the putty to hold the wound closed; please enjoy.

Jocelyn: So you didn’t actually use the vinegar at all?

Dr. Douglas: No, ma’am. But I did use the bottle cap, which I took to be within the spirit of the rules.

Jocelyn: Yeah, yeah sure. But do you think I could have some of the vinegar to rub on my temples? I hear the acid really smooths out the wrinkles.

Sanjay: Okaaaay. Back to the procedure, what gave you the idea for a poultice? That’s rather a unique take on these supplies.

Dr. Douglas: Well, that really goes back to my training as a voodoo shaman before getting into surgery full-time. I really feel like that gives me an chance to show you something the other competitors might not. If I’m able to move on, I’ve got some real ritualistic stuff I think you’ll like for the ‘local anesthesia round’.

Sanjay: Fair enough. Dr. Koop, anything to add?

C. Everett: Sorry, no — I’m still marveling at this knife work. These are the best incisions we’ve seen all day!

Allen: And finally, we have Dr. Olivia Brennan. Dr. Brennan, please describe for us your experience in this round.

Dr. Brennan: Well, I really wanted to think outside the box on this one, Allen. I also broke the vinegar bottle and started to use the glass to cut in — but when I saw Gwendolyn doing the same thing, I completely rethought my strategy. Her clinic is just down the street from mine in New York City, and I couldn’t stand feeling like I copied her here, I have to beat her on my own terms. So I got creative. I unrolled all the toilet paper, and sawed into the patient with the cardboard roll. That took a little longer than I’d hoped, but I finally got in there. I was able to fashion the pinking shears into a sort of spring lever, and — using the vinegar bottle as an anchor — grabbed onto the appendix and launched it out of there. I had a few minutes left, so I rolled the Silly Putty into little sutures, perforated with the shears, and sewed him back together. The TP made a nice post-op gown, and the vinegar bottle a makeshift vase for flowers from well-wishers.

C. Everett: Well, you definitely made some inspired choices. The range of techniques and skills displayed in just twenty minutes is impressive.

Jocelyn: Oh, absolutely. When that appendix shot across the room like a cork out of a champagne bottle, I thought fireworks were going off. Bravo for showmanship!

Sanjay: Yeah… I’m sorry, I’m going to have to disagree. The creativity was there, sure, but I really don’t like all this scratching and gouging around the incision site. And most of those Silly Putty stitches have fallen apart now. I just don’t see this is a coherent, fully-composed surgery.

Allen: So there you have it. Contestants, if you’d please make your way to the post-op tent to relax and console the various family members, the judges will discuss your performance and check the vital signs and white blood cell counts of your patients. We’ll find out who’s moving on, who’s going home, and who’s being slapped with enormous malpractice lawsuits when Butchered returns. Don’t miss it!

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