(he lost it in a dual)
and he died of a ruptured bladder from a kidney stone, not mercury poisoning.
more at Neatorama...
read the whole thing, especially the part about his drunken pet moose...
and a PDF about the history of Bladder stones and treatment can be found here.
Pepys had his removed surgically...
and the surgical treatment is ancient: Which is why it is mentioned in the Hippocratic oath.
The ancient Greek Hippocratic Oath includes the phrase: "I will not cut for stone, even for the patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners," a clear warning for physicians against the "cutting" of persons "laboring under the stone"; an act that was better left to surgeons (who were distinct from physicians at that time in history). Operations to remove bladder stones via the perineum, like other surgery before the invention of anesthesia, were intensely painful for the patient.more here.
and wikipedia has some very nice descriptions of how they used to smash or chisel the stone to get it small enough to take out.
And yes, this position today is still called the "lithotomy" position, although we use that position for Pap smears and some childbirth.
cross posted to my Xanga blog.