Filed under history of medicine

A Bad Doctor

A Bad Doctor

John Aubrey is one of the great English writers and left a huge amount of diaries which range over a wide range of topics. They are chatty, he often qualifies what he writes by citing he’s not sure of this, or that someone told him, so provides insight into his life and thinking. This is … Continue reading

Iron Lung for Polio Victims

Iron Lung for Polio Victims

I am just old enough to remember the horrors of polio. A friend of mine had an older brother who was one of the last to be affected by it – he walked with a stick and his leg was in a brace so he was an object of pity for most of us. When … Continue reading

Imprisoning the Mentally ill

This is from Patrick Cockburn, award winning war correspondent with the i paper. It seems a far cry from his usual topic, but not really. The criminalisation of the mentally iill is one of the cruellest and most easily avoidable tragedies of our era. He discusses a number of cases of impending executions for the … Continue reading

Beyond Love

I’ve become a huge fan of Ira Glass’s ‘This American Life’ podcast, especially since it provides a welcome antidote to all the bad news coming out of the states recently. Last week i stumbled upon one of the strangest stories ever, in the episode ‘Grand Gestures’ which challenges so many aspects of what we are … Continue reading

St Thomas’s Old Operating Theatre

St Thomas’s Old Operating Theatre

This is a wonderful, haunting but small museum, a place that should make you fall down and give thanks to whoever you believe in that modern medicine exists. It’s in the attic to provide maximum light for operations. Everything is so small, especially the operating table which I doubt would be long enough for me. … Continue reading

DIY Surgery

One of the most horrific accounts I’ve read – posted elsewhere – is that of Fanny Burney being operated on for breast cancer in the 18th century. Surgery at the time was generally fro two things – kidney stones – the pain of which has been compared with that of childbirth – and for life … Continue reading

Public Dissections

Modern medicine tends to be divided between doctors in general practice, and those in hospitals who specialise in various fields. But for centuries there were two groups: Physicians who were educated, elite and well educated, and barber-surgeons who were mere tradesmen and often treated people by bleeding them. Apparently this in turn dates to when … Continue reading

Sir Walter Scott’s ‘Bowed Davie’

Yet another snippet from Highways & Byways n the Border: Near the junction of the Tweed and Manor Water was a cottage made famous by Sir Walter Scott: Bowed Davie” [is] the original of Scott’s “Black Dwarf” of Mucklestane Muir. Sir Walter was staying at Hallyards, on Manor Water, in 1797 with his friend Adam … Continue reading