You may have heard of the phrase – ‘bite the bullet’. It is used to describe the act of doing something unpleasant or difficult, which you have been putting off.
American physician Crawford W. Long noticed that his friends felt no pain when they injured themselves while staggering around under the influence of diethyl ether. He immediately thought of its potential in surgery. Conveniently, a participant in one of those “ether frolics”, a student named James Venable, had two small tumors he wanted excised. But fearing the pain of surgery, Venable kept putting the operation off. Hence, Long suggested that he have his operation while under the influence of ether. Venable agreed, and on 30 March 1842 he underwent a painless operation. However, Long did not announce his discovery until 1849
Before Anaesthesia patients who had to undergo surgery were made to bite a leather belt, and in the field of war – a bullet. The term is born out of there; undergoing surgery in the absence of anaesthesia!
Now you know.