Solutions for Self-Reliance

DIY Surgery or a $1,000 Medical Bill? Which One Would You Choose?


I have more than my fair share of scars.

Hockey, soccer, rugby, boxing, martial arts, and a childhood spent climbing things award them for participation.

With this background, I immediately identified with this helpful letter and video from Justin.

Let me know what you think.


Hey John,

Just posted this video of some DIY medical care I did for my brother after a snowboarding crash and immediately thought of your resiliency newsletters.

We both have some baseline health insurance (~$100/month, $10K deductible) that doesn’t cover emergency room/urgent care visits and we were quoted “at least $1000” out of pocket to stitch him up. Called a doctor friend in NM and got this idea. Worked great!

“Better than stitches,” says my brother. It was so gratifying to solve the problem ourselves. Super glue is now definitely a must-have item in my first-aid kit for backpacking, etc.

The video is meant to be funny too, but I think it also illustrates one area where most people are completely dependent on the system–health care.  Most people like me grew up with health insurance from their parents that covered the whole family for pretty much anything. Cold? Go to the doctor. Hurt playing sports? Go to the doctor. Need stitches? Definitely go to the doctor.

The past few years of living un-insured or marginally insured has taught me just how much we can manage on our own when we don’t have much other choice.

Showing the video to friends and family has gotten extreme and mixed reactions. Dad (who grew up really rural) thought it was great, resourceful; others thought it was crazy to do anything but spend the $1000+. Strikes me that it might be a bit taboo (for some people) to even suggest they take any aspect of their medical care into their own hands.

Curious, what you and the Resilient Communities members think of the idea of DIY medical care?

Thanks for all you do.



I followed up with Justin about what happened to the superglue and the wound after a week. He replied:


Hey John,

The scar is clean, comparable to stitching/sutures. The glue actually just flaked out naturally after about 2 weeks. Took a little manual pinching of the glued hair, but he didn’t lose hardly any of it.


Would be harder to pull off and hide with shorter hair, but no one even noticed it.

Pretty easy for sure. Though, I spent some time trying to double-knot it before realizing it was easier to basically do one knot, hold it and glue it. Hair just doesn’t knot tight like string.

Thanks.  Justin.


Again, let me know what you think about this.  Is this the type of step people need to take to improve their resilience in today’s world?

Resiliently Yours,



JR Small


PS:  In general, it’s always a good idea to take a hard look at the things done reflexively, out of habit.

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