13. Excess Body Parts

by H. W. Moss

Humans are born with or grow body parts they don’t need. Throughout life we shed or have them removed. Some grow back, some don’t.

In addition to dripping skin cells everywhere we go, we dig out earwax, cut and dispose of our hair, pare our finger and toenails. And you really don’t need a uvula (that thing dangling in the back of your throat), appendix or spleen. Plus, most people have two kidneys which is one extra.

I mean, what’s an appendix for, anyway? Tonsils are expendable and adenoids are quite misunderstood.

“The tonsils and adenoids are composed of tissues that are similar to the lymph nodes found in the neck or other parts of the body,” according to the University of Miami web site. “Together, they are part of a ring of tissue encircling the back of the throat. A tonsillectomy and an adenoidectomy (commonly referred to as a T & A) are surgical procedures performed to remove the tonsils and adenoids, respectively.”

Funny, I have a wholly other vision of what T & A means.

You can live without your uvula. My friend John had his removed as part of his sleep apnea therapy. Snoring was his problem. The operation also removed “a good deal of my upper palate along with more inner nose. I just finished another overnighter at the General Hospital Sleep Apnea Center. I do know I will be having another surgery on my tongue and some other fatty tissue down there. It won’t be as painful or as long healing as this last surgery,” John told me.

The other day he admitted none of this did any good. He still snores like a banshee.

Then there’s the spleen. Located somewhere near your stomach, it is a ductless organ which produces lymphocytes. It’s nice to have, but you don’t need it.

There is a British term “to have spleen” which means, according to my Irish acquaintance Titch, “to have backbone.” However, one can be “splenetic” which means “given to melancholy,” according to my old Webster’s Collegiate.

These two definitions don’t jibe with one another far as I’m concerned. I believe them though.

Plus, you can vent spleen although at the website www.alt.spleen it suggests you should be careful. There are supposedly stories of “’armchair mechanic’ spleen owners venting their spleens and ending up with leftover parts afterwards.”

More misunderstood body parts include our shoulder blades. My friend Joe has a daughter, Jillian, who told me she thinks our shoulder blades are useless. “Some people believe that’s where our wings used to be attached,” she said.

Molars or wisdom teeth are often the source of dental problems. They are called “wisdom” because they come in at a time when you become “wise,” late teens, early 20’s. A wise Twenty Something. Hah!

You don’t need molars and can’t use them for much. Ever chew anything way back there?

I went to a dental college when I was in my 20’s and was told I had nine cavities. However, if I had my wisdom teeth pulled, there would only be two cavities. That was a no-brainer except I said, “OK. Yank the uppers. But I want to wait and think about having the lower ones pulled. After all, they are a part of my body.”

That was a spurious argument.

So they shot me up with Nembutal and tried to extract using a pliers-like device. The teeth were so impacted the professor demonstrated to the student, a pal I haven’t seen since, how a mallet and hammer work to essentially crush a tooth and make it fall out in little pieces. Bam! Bam! They finally got one of them out. The same thing with the other one. Bam! Bam! Then the doc says to me, “Y’know, while we’re in there it would be a lot easier to extract the other two now, today.”

I said, “No problem — if you give me another shot of Nembutal.” Which they did.

That extra kidney can be a real benefit to a family member. Some people have been known to give one to a friend or relative in need. Then there is the story of the destitute person who runs an ad to sell one of them to the highest bidder.

I like going into an organ bar and asking the bartender, “Whatcha got in a bladder?”

Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have, then dispose of them once a month until they are all gone. Men create sperm which they expend until they can no longer make any. Apparently it takes a lot out of a man to manufacture those motile little creatures, and that explains the difference in longevity between women and men. But you already knew that, didn’t you?

Little toes are superfluous. You can lose one and it hardly affects your gait. Lose a big toe, however, and you practically have to learn to walk all over again. Dogs have dew claws that are the equivalent of a human’s little toe. The claw is up the leg, not on the foot pad, and often it gets caught on things, so veterinarians cut them off.

Just thought I’d throw that in even if it has nothing to do with human anatomy.