What is Trephination?
May 10, 2017
Scissors Crossing to Barrel Springs
Pacific Crest Trail Thru-Hike: Day 6
Twenty-four miles of monotonous switchbacks. I stuck needles into my toes at the end of the day to relieve pressure. One geysered. This practice is called trephination. What's trephination, you may be wondering?
Trephination (also known as trepanning or burr holing) is a surgical intervention where a hole is drilled or incised to relieve pressure.
Yes, I also think it sounds disgusting but it was completely painless and quite fun to do as all the other thru-hikers gathered around during mealtime to watch. Plus, the instant relief from drilling a red-hot needle through your toenail is worth any amount of squeamishness.
It was executed quite elegantly. Alex fashioned a needle-holder out of a long-dead twig, and by fashioned I mean the twig was soft and he shoved the needle into the center of it. This served the purpose of allowing the user to hold the needle over a cook stove and bring it to a red-hot temperature without burning one's hand. Neosporin is used to sanitize the puncture area, and the needle (best if done while the metal is still glowing orange) is lightly twisted atop the nail. LIGHTLY!!! It does not take very much pressure to sear a hole through a toenail. And yes, surprisingly, it is totally painless. Kind of like getting a tooth pulled with novocaine. Maybe because the needle is so hot it kills the nerve endings? I'm no doctor, so I'll avoid postulating and stick to puncturing. My toenails quickly drained, I patched them up and reveled in the release of pressure.
We played a new game today, called the question game. It's a made-up game, played at the dinner circle. I make up questions, and we go around the circle and answer them. Like, what is the best science fair project you ever put together? The game lasted for at least an hour, and many great stories came out of it. Thirteen of us played: Beaver, Rise & Shine, Dana, Land Mammal, Gary with the MC Hammer pants, Cake, Colten, Alex, Sam, Sonya and a handful of others. A simple and pleasant way to make new friends and wind down for the evening.
In other news, I passed mile 100 today. I feel very sticky. The weather is perfect, but it would be great if the frogs could STFU so I can get some sleep. Warner Springs tomorrow and the first official resupply.