An unbelievable book!
Ca 1840, generally:
None of the painkilling potions…significantly palliated the agony of operations. Pre- and post-operative suffering could sometimes be lightened, though never abolished. The searing pain of the knife and the saw were virtually anaffected. Almost iinevitably patients passed into a state of shock on the operating table. The shock was sometimes irreversible. This imposed an universal imperative. Speed was essential. Prolonged pain not only hurt. It also killed.
Breast-Operation of Mme d’Arblay (ca 1810):
‚Yet when the dreadful steel was plunged into my breast, cutting through skin, vein, flesh and nerves, I needed no injunction not to restrain my cries. I began a scream which lasted unremittingly throughout the whole operation – and I almost marvel that it rings not in my ear still! – so excruciating was the agony.‘
Caruso would not go on stage until he swollowed two aspirins.