Pulling teeth.

Written By Heather - February 23, 2012

More proof that Amundsen is a generally jolly fellow:

Lieutenant Gjertsen, who had a pronounced aptitude both for drawing teeth and amputating legs, went through a “lightning course” at the hospital and the dental hospital. He clearly showed that much may be learnt in a short time by giving one’s mind to it. With surprising rapidity and apparent confidence Lieutenant Gjertsen disposed of the most complicated cases — whether invariably to the patient’s advantage is another question, which I shall leave undecided. He drew teeth with a dexterity that strongly reminded one of the conjurer’s art; one moment he showed an empty pair of forceps, the next there was a big molar in their grip. The yells one heard while the operation was in progress seemed to indicate that it was not entirely painless.

This is the first I’ve read about somebody on an expedition being sent for medical training. In many of the others, there’s some mention that somebody has some medical knowledge – a bit like a field medic, I think, or somebody who seems to think that they know what to do but end up dosing people with whatever they have in the medicine bag. Clever of Amundsen to have somebody learn how to pull teeth – I mean, that’s something really important to know how to do if you’re going to be at the bottom of the world for a year or so. It sounds like Gjertsen is quite good at it. Though it also sounds like you probably don’t want to find out how good he is at it…

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