Netlore Archive: A harrowing (but true) story from the annals of self-administered first aid.
Description: Urban legend / Forwarded email
Circulating since: 1991
Email text contributed by F. Rose, March 13, 2000:
When a 40-year old man arrived at a hospital asking to see a doctor specializing in "men's troubles", he was shown to a cubicle. There, he gingerly unwrapped three yards of foul smelling, stained gauze from around his scrotum, which had swollen to twice the size of a grapefruit.
On further inspection, it was discovered that his left testicle was missing completely and, embedded within the swollen, tender and weeping wound, were a number of dark objects which the patient confessed were one inch staple nails from an industrial staple gun.
It transpired that the man spent lunchtimes alone in the workshop, where he regularly enjoyed the sexual thrill of placing his penis on the moving canvas fan belt of a piece of machinery. One day, the excitement had caused him to lose his concentration and the fan-belt had snatched his scrotum into the fly-wheel, throwing him several feet across the floor and removing his left testicle. Rather than go to hospital, he self-administered first aid using a staple gun and then continued work when his colleagues returned. It was two weeks before he got around to visiting the hospital.
Analysis: It's tempting to dismiss this grisly tale as a prurient joke, but we have it on good authority that of attending physician Dr. William A. Morton, Jr., who penned a now-famous journal article on the case in 1991 that the incident did indeed really happen. The text of Morton's article has circulated via fax and email ever since, spawning shorter variants over time such as the one above.
Thanks to the Internet, "Scrotum Self-Repair" has enjoyed such a wide distribution that Jan Harold Brunvand saw fit to include it in his 1999 omnibus of urban legends Too Good to Be True, citing word-of-mouth variants (e.g., "the scrotum is said to have swollen to the size of a basketball") spun off from the original published text.
Among the most frequently asked questions about urban legends is whether they ever turn out to be true. I'd be hard-pressed to come up with a better affirmative example than this. Users (and abusers) of power tools beware!
Example of Dr. Morton's original article, as typically posted around the Net
Commentary by David Mikkelson contains personal confirmation of the story from Dr. Morton [Urban Legends Reference Pages]
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Last updated: 07/14/11