Tuesday, December 12

A Broken Needle

George Wright, aged 24, Seaman;
Disease or hurt, Punctured wound
Taken ill 7 January at sea.
Discharged to duty 30 January

While laying out on the fore topsail yard to reef the sail a large sewing needle which he had stuck in the breast of his frock run into the sternum and he says that it is gone quite thro' as he feels it pricking him. In attempting to pull it out it broke nearly about the middle, and while he came to me, he held the piece in his hand it appeared about one inch in length and pretty thick.

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He appeared to be in the greatest apprehension and probably pain - for large drops of sweat fell from his face in profusion and his countenance was quite pallid and dejected. I could see the orifice where the needle had entered, but could neither see nor feel any part of it - altho' he had assured me when I touched the part that he felt the needle prick him inside.

The external orifice appeared about an inch above the joining of the Cartilago Ensiformis. With Mr. P. I agreed to lay the parts externally sufficiently open so as to endeavour to find the remainder of the needle. I immediately made and incision about an inch and a half in a perpendicular direction above and below the orifice but altho' we inspected most carefully we could not discover the slightest vestige of the needle nor where it had got to, all this time the Lad kept telling me that he felt it within him and seemed in very great agitation, and I believe if he had not been supported would have fainted.

After a fruitless search I brought the edges of the wound together and retained them with adhesive straps expecting if suppuration should take place that the piece of the needle would soon appear. I got him put to bed and have administered an anodyne and recommended him to lay in the posture which he finds most ease in.

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8th - He still assents that he feels the needle prick him when he moves, but appears not so much alarmed and I have an idea that he must be in some mistake. I have ordered him to remain quiet and repeat the anodyne.

13th - He is able to walk about without any great uneasiness but the needle has never been found, the incision has suppurated. He says still that he can feel it prick him under the left Breast now - but I can not perceive it. Dress the wound daily.

16th - The incision heals, he does not feel the needle now at all. ------ -------

25th - The wound heals rapidly but no part of the needle has been since seen or felt.

Originally Recorded by: Mr. Thomas Simpson, Surgeon, HMS Arethusa, 1805
Transcribed for hmsacasta.com by Albert Roberts
Journal images and text from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

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