In 1811, Frances Burney (later Madame D'Arblay) underwent a mastectomy without anaesthetic, leaving an account of the "most tortuous pain" she suffered in her journals. Although there are few records from a patient perspective for the charity hospitals like St Thomas' (patients were poor and usually uneducated), anecdotes of famous operations - including Burney, Samuel Pepys and Lord Nelson - can provide a picture of the patient experience in a time before modern medicine.
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