Updated to add:
I chatted to the lovely anaesthetist who looked after me yesterday, and he assures me that ether and chloroform both rapidly fell into disuse after the discovery of the drug Halothane in the mid-1950s, and by the time he was training in the late 80s, no-one ever learned how to use them, and by then, even Halothane was being superseded by newer drugs such as Cyclopropane.
I've been busy packing my suitcase and preparing my things to get ready to go into hospital this afternoon in preparation for my operation later this evening.
We really are incredibly fortunate to be living in the age we do, even if we may not think it at times!
If it were not for modern medicine, I would not be able to have this surgery; although not necessarily a life-threatening problem, it is an uncomfortable, debilitating, unpleasant problem and it limits my normal functioning. It is treatable, though not always completely successfully, and that is a small risk I am choosing to take.
Like all surgery, there is also an element of risk in undergoing anaesthesia and a risk of post-operative infection, but if there were to be a sudden major disaster scenario or major economic collapse etc, modern medicine as we know it would most likely grind to a halt and we would see a very rapid reversion to the fairly primitive medical provision of at least a hundred if not two hundred years ago.
Would I want to undergo this surgery without any anesthesia ? No, I would just put up with my current level of discomfort and inconvenience and manage as best I could.
How many people have the knowledge or the ability to be able to produce even basic anaesthetic drugs such as ether or chloroform? How many doctors have had any experience of ever using these drugs to safely anaesthetize a patient for surgery ? I would imagine that only quite elderly doctors or those who have had experience of working in Third World Countries would have this knowledge or expertise. Many operations would be completely unthinkable without having safe blood transfusions readily available and mortality rates would be high.
It is a sobering thought, isn't it ?