View Full Version : So I want to cut off a toe...

09-12-2012, 01:22 PM
I've got an idea for a macabre short story which involves a group of people stuck in an elevator.
One of these people is a nurse/paramedic (that's flexible) and eventually he is going to cut off the smallest toe of another person in the elevator. The person who is getting their toe cut off is submitting to it willingly.

So, my questions: how difficult would this be, in terms of physical strength? Would it essentially be the same as cutting joints of chicken?
If the cutter knows where the bone joints are and has a sharp knife is it going to be relatively quick? Would stuffing a shirt against the wound be enough to staunch it? How much blood would there be?
From what I've heard it's not that great an idea to cauterise a wound (because of infection, greater damage, etc) does that apply in the case of amputations "in the field" so to speak? And if cauterisation could be justified to stop bleeding, would a cigarette lighter be able to handle it? (I'm guessing probably not)
Would the pain be unbearable, for an average office worker who has never before suffered more than a stubbed toe? Anything to compare it to?

That's all I can think of right now. Thanks very much in advance for your help!

09-12-2012, 01:46 PM
A more logical way (I'm assuming you need tissue for some, see if he's an alien, test) would be to use dental floss first around the base of the toe as a tourniquet. Let it get numb and then cut through the most distal joint

09-12-2012, 03:14 PM
Not sure how much force it would take, but my uncle cut three of his toes off with a lawnmower once. Well, I say 'cut' but it was more like 'chewed'

Pallas Athene
09-12-2012, 06:15 PM
A nurse/paramedic would know to cut at a joint, where only muscle and tendon hold things together. As to how to do it- does the medical person have any supplies with them? An anesthetic along with the sharp knife would make things much simpler and considerably less painful, at least until the anesthetic wore off.

The anatomy of the small toe and foot as a whole makes things a little difficult though- in many people the distal joint has fused due to lack of use. The only place then would be to cut the toe at the base where it connects to the foot, which makes tourniquet placement very difficult. It all depends on how badly you want your character to be off though.

As far as the tourniquet itself, a rubber band would work much better than dental floss because you can tie it tighter. Something very similar is used in DIY neutering.

Pain would probably be unbearable, yes. There would also probably be large amounts of blood, although I doubt enough to be life-threatening, especially with the application of pressure.

I'm not sure about cauterizing amputations effect on infections, but it would certainly make it more difficult to reattach the part. And it causes more damage in the process- a second or third degree burn on top of everything else. Personally, if I were the medical person, I'd use the lighter to attempt to sterilize the knife.

09-13-2012, 12:21 AM
There's some great info so far, thank you!
I think I'd better expand a little on the idea. It's supposed to be kind of a psychological horror. It's quite gross and involves cannibalism, so consider this a warning.

It's three people stuck in an elevator and one of them has a condition where they need to eat all the time just to stay alive (like this girl (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1290231/Girl-eat-15-minutes-Lizzie-Velasquez-weighs-8-year-old.html)).
She's going out with the nurse. They get stuck in the elevator with an office drone kind of guy. She runs out of food. They are all wearing synthetic clothes. No one has an extra stash of twinkies handy.

See where I'm going with this? Now, I know I'm pushing plausibility here to some extent, but I'm going to try and leave it somewhat ambiguous as to whether the girl is actually that sick, whether the nurse is all together stable and so forth.

I picked the little toe because I've heard it's fairly vestigial and I'm guessing Mr Drone has heard that too.
Mostly, I want to see if I can get one character to convince another character to cut off a body part to save the life of a third. To some extent it's a bit of a homage to Roald Dahl.

The nurse doesn't really have any equipment on him, only a pen knife (and possibly a rubber band and a lighter). But he's going to be (acting?) desperate by the time he manages to convince Mr Drone to go through with it. He won't be trying for best practice. So....

How long would it take to make the part go numb with a rubber band? Is there any point to doing that if you are planning to just cut the whole thing off at the base?
Would the toe actually be of any use to the girl with the condition? In the article it says that girl has to eat a lot of carbs and fat but I'm assuming protein could be OK as well (it does mention she eats chicken). To some extent it doesn't matter, as I just need Mr Drone to think it would be of use to her.

Also... would it be more plausible for Mr Drone to have a chunk of fat taken from somewhere else for her to eat? I know cutting off the toe involves cutting bone, and that's upping the stakes a lot.

Do you think an ordinary person would prefer to have a chunk cut out of their..., say the fat of their arm, or a toe cut off?
And if Mr Drone is really skinny, would that be possible? If a big patch of skin was cut off his arm (or somewhere else) would he bleed more or less than if a little toe was cut off?

Sorry about so many questions. I'm more interested in the persuasion and the atmosphere in the elevator than the details of the actual bits that get removed, so I'm, uh, not attached to the toe. I'd rather it made (a strange, terrible kind of) sense.
I'm also open to you guys telling me it's a completely dumb idea :)

Drachen Jager
09-13-2012, 12:47 AM
I picked the little toe because I've heard it's fairly vestigial and I'm guessing Mr Drone has heard that too.
Mostly, I want to see if I can get one character to convince another character to cut off a body part to save the life of a third. To some extent it's a bit of a homage to Roald Dahl.

Why wouldn't the guy tell the nurse to give her his own toe? Or give her her own toe?

For that matter, if nutrition is all she needs, then why not go vampire and just let a little blood?

I mean realistically the guy is going to try to come up with every possible solution that does not include cutting bits of himself off to feed some chick he doesn't even know. I know I would.

Also, I looked at the article and her disease doesn't really fit what you want. She 'has to eat every 15 minutes to stay healthy.' but that seems more figurative, she wouldn't die if she didn't eat for a few hours from what I can gather (certainly it mentions nothing about her having to wake at that kind of interval during the night), it just wouldn't be good for her. I was thinking you were going for some form of hypoglycemia. If your girl did have the sickness in the story one little toe wouldn't really do her any good anyhow. She needs not just food, but high calorie count food.

09-13-2012, 02:41 AM
Never mind what I wrote. I realize that you meant for the story to be the *convincing* and not that the girl is actually sick. Which she almost certainly isn't for the reasons Drachen Jager mentioned..

If you can pull it off (the story; not the toe), good. I hear psycho-paths actually *can* talk people into doing things like this. Though not being a psychopath, we probably would have a hard time writing about it convincingly.

By the way, am I the only person who thinks it doesn't count as canniblism unless the person being eaten is dead.

09-13-2012, 03:08 AM
Adipose tissue is very vascular. Cutting a wad out of someone's somewhere is going to bleed and be difficult in those conditions to bandage properly. Cutting off a toe would be easier to manage as far as Mr Drone goes. However a toe won't provide much in the way of nutrition. It's mostly connective tissue and not much else. Drachen is right, from a nutrition standpoint a good vamping is a more realistic scenario.

09-13-2012, 03:36 AM
Not only am I wondering why not drink a little blood, you might want to look at this thread: Forcing Open an Elevator Door (http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCIQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.absolutewrite.com%2Fforums%2F showthread.php%3Ft%3D198987&ei=FxhRUPydMOXj0QHb0YDYDQ&usg=AFQjCNHrIWxf9QnUDkipCCUOHaWCM1hzGg). Elevators aren't that complicated to get out of when they become stuck. If I was desperate enough to talking about cutting off somebody's toe, I'd be doing a lot more before getting there. You might want to look at TRAPPED IN AN ELEVATOR FOR 41 HOURS (Video). (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_bMhNI_TY8)

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

09-13-2012, 03:52 AM
You can cut off a little toe with a tin-snip. I don't know why a nurse would carry a tin-snip, though.

09-13-2012, 11:10 PM
Some wonderful information and ideas here. I'm really going to have to think hard to get around the blood letting idea (which doesn't sound nearly as difficult to talk someone into, you're right!).
Thank you all so much for helping me out with this and giving me several different aspects to think about.

09-13-2012, 11:20 PM
You can cut off a little toe with a tin-snip. I don't know why a nurse would carry a tin-snip, though.
But the workman in the elevator might. If you need a source for something, just write it in.

Though the story description, to me, falls in the "Are you freakin' nuts?" category. I'd be unable to suspend belief for this one.