Paperwork: Warning: This story involves lots of body parts and bacon

Lonny Cain

I am a member of the gall bladder club.

The primary price of admission is your gall bladder. I paid my dues about 10 years ago.

This is a huge club. A Google search tells me half a million people have their gallbladders removed each year. Being eligible for this club had a lot to do with my eating habits, but it’s a better family story if I blame my youngest son.

The short version goes like this: My dad, the son and I had spent the night at my cousin’s house in Southern Illinois. The guys were going fishing so we were up early. I woke up to the smell of bacon.

No. 3 son was in the kitchen cooking breakfast and saw me shuffling to the table.

“Hey Dad, want your eggs cooked in bacon grease?”

Of course I did. Yummy. Shortly after breakfast we were on the road and soon at the shoreline dropping lines into the water. I spent the rest of the day fishing – in pain. Abdominal pain.

The day ended fishless with me moaning on the couch as my cousin handed me ibuprofen. She had done some research online and said, “If this doesn’t work, we’re taking you to the ER.”

It worked enough to get me through the night and the long drive home the next day. A doctor visit and tests followed soon after revealing that my gall bladder had transformed into a creature that needed to be exorcised. And so it was removed.

I had been reassured by the doc and fellow club members that I really didn’t need my gall bladder.

Now this bold statement I think should raise eyebrows and perhaps some existential questions such as: If I don’t need the gall bladder, then what was it doing in there for 65 years?

Well, funny thing. There are many body parts I guess that are not necessary. I know this because told me so under this headline: “7 body parts that are more or less useless.”

I was not surprised to see No. 1 on the list: “The appendix, a small pouch attached to the large intestine, is perhaps the best-known useless organ, doing little except occasionally getting infected.” I guess there is some debate about the role of this little dangle, but you don’t really need it.

Also on the list were: your tailbone, wisdom teeth, those ear muscles that allow some people to wiggle their ears and muscles attached to hair follicles that give us goose bumps when chilly, scared or excited. Also, most animals have a third eyelid but humans have pretty much lost theirs. And we have lost or are losing the palmaris longus muscle that stretches the length of the forearm. Twist your hand and wrist a bit and you might be able to see if you still have yours.

Seeing this list is what reminded me of my gall bladder adventure. But hey, look what is not on this list – the gall bladder.

No doubt the list could be much longer. People give up a lot of body parts besides gall bladders. It’s actually pretty amazing how the body machine functions without some of its parts. Plus there are extra parts such as two kidneys and lungs.

I’m fine without my gall bladder. I guess. (Losing most of the hair on my head has been more painful.)

And I still have my appendix. Oh boy. (I’ve always considered it a ticking time bomb.)

A complete list of body parts we don’t need might be interesting. But … for now … I am not eager to join any more clubs. Or eat bacon.

Lonny Cain, retired managing editor of The Times in Ottawa, also was a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet in the 1970s. His Paperwork email is Or mail The Times, 110 W. Jefferson St., Ottawa, IL 61350.