Fontanelle

So, this happened this week:

Well, not The Treacherous Brain live. Nor my own trepanning, trepanation, trephination, or trephining. Both of those events happened a while ago, now.

[You need this week’s Apoplexy Newsletter like a hole in the head.]

But I did get round to listening to episode 2 of the new series of Out Of The Ordinary, called – of course– Hole In The Head. It was about elective – and DIY – trepanation.

Now, this was pretty interesting to me. I was trepanned in the immediate aftermath of my hemorrhagic stroke, so it was a thing that happened to me. In fact, the whole consent process around trephination can be quite interesting. But that’s another story. Point is, getting a burr hole in the head isn’t something most people choose.

Nice badge, though.
Self-Trephination Pride Week ends badly

But there is a class of people who do opt for elective trepanation where it wouldn’t seem to be medically indicated. And since Out Of The Ordinary is, apparently, a series of documentary stories “out of left field,” Jolyon Jenkins went off to find them.

The reason Spanish politics has recently been surfacing in my writing?
Out of left field?! I’ll give ye out of left field!

It seems that a trio of now-septuagenarians have been behind the promotion of elective trepanning for many years, and their story is pretty far out.

A sybarite, according to Ian Wiki
“It’s further than far out” – Mr. Natural

Yeah, that’s almost exactly how it went down. Except nobody really seemed too fussy about finding the right tools. The programme kicks off with an interview with nominative determinism’s Joey Mellen.

In the 60s, Jolyon Jenkins relates, Joey Mellen’s parents wanted him to into The City. But he didn’t want to be a stockbroker, and went to Amsterdam to smoke pot then trepanned himself with a hand trepan (which, according to the show, looks like a corkscrew).

Makes sense. My doctors ended up siphoning stuff out of my head
More wine, Vicar?

Apparently, it took Joey four goes to get it right. He was using local anaesthetic, and by the time he “got through” with the hand trepan, the drill was going in at an angle. In the end, he used an electric drill, and the process took about fifteen minutes.

You might get a better idea of the process by viewing the documentary Joey and his later wife (then ex-wife) made about her trephination, Heartbeat In The Brain.

Yeah. I got nothing.
Heartbeat In The Brain (dir. Amanda Feilding, 1970)

But be aware, more than one audience member fainted during the final scene of Heartbeat In The Brain when Amanda Feilding screened the movie at the Suydam Gallery in New York in 1978. Even though the surgical scenes alternate with motion studies of Feilding’s pet pigeon Birdie?!

I’m kinda of disappointed now that nobody fainted during Nerd Bait’s live performance of The Treacherous Brain. The audience just looked horrified.

Don't try this at home. Settle in with a classic comedy instead.
Don’t worry, Kevin. It was only *fake* blood. Neither Stroke Bloke nor Nerd Bait endorse self-trephination.

Amanda Feilding previously had an affair with the bloke who had inspired Joey to self-trepan, Bart Huges. Bart had been a medical student at the University of Amsterdam, but was refused his degree because of his marijuana advocacy.

Apparently, Bart met a bloke called Titi at a party who got high by the method of standing on his head.

Step 2: go and have a pint instead – it's Rose Street!
Step 1: fill bucket with liquid LSD

Oh yeah –  apparently Bart was also a big fan of LSD. Nevertheless – or, because – he did persuade Joey of his theory of the benefits that trepanning provides through getting more blood into the brain. That it “fixes the problem of being bipedal,” whereby we “lose higher consciousness.”

That and the problem of our fontanelle fusing into the adult skull so that we lose cranial compliance (skull elasticity) and cerebral-spinal fluid flow.

Children are higher. That’s why we want to take drugs. The fall of man is not a moral thing. It’s a physical thing – Joey Mellen

I WAS PROMISED SQUASH AND RICOTTA FRITTATA!
Oh. That explains *a lot*

Well, that’s all very well, but let me tell you from experience – getting too much blood into the brain is a terrible idea. And leads to trephination. Which in my experience, ain’t so much fun.

That is to say – have a fun week, and don’t self-trepan.

Find out more about these left-field folk and why surgeons don’t take them seriously in Out Of The Ordinary – Hole In The Head here.

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One thought on “Fontanelle

  1. So, as they say, people be cray.

    But wow, even adjusted for my relatively dim view of human kind, you’d think there would be some sort of “lets not do this” instinct in the lizard brain which would kick in when considering voluntarily drilling a hole in your skull.

    And while the libertarian streak in me says “you do you”, I can’t help but think that the idea of causing physical harm to yourself for fun and art is perhaps one of the more extreme expressions of privilege I’ve heard recently.

    “I’ll just put this drill in my head and if I end up fucked up, someone else is around to bail me out?”

    That’s terrible. Especially when people who legitimately need to have said holes and recovery don’t get the treatment they need.

    So my reaction is a hearty “boooo” to them.

    But “yay” to you and your bag of fake blood. That worked so well!

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