6 Horrifying Ways They Used To Treat Basic Medical Issues
6 Horrifying Ways They Used To Treat Basic Medical Issues published by Evanvinh
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Posted on 2016-03-12
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Historical medicine largely consisted of doctors doing things that today would be considered violent felonies. With treatments ranging from stabbing your asshole with heated metal to gargling a mouthful of human waste, it's a wonder we kept going back to doctors often enough to turn medicine into the most flagrantly expensive industry in the entire world.
#6. Curing Hemorrhoids Involved A Red-Hot Poker To The Anus
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If the sheer volume of relief creams and homeopathic remedies that people will slather on just to avoid going to the doctor are any indication, today's treatments for hemorrhoids are no walk in the park. Still, they couldn't possibly hold a candle to the accepted historical treatment, which was to fill one's asshole with red-hot iron pokers until the offending hemorrhoid burned and exploded.
"It smells like a slab of bacon just farted in here."
Clear back when being overly phlegmatic was considered a sign of good health, Hippocrates penned On Hemorrhoids, a seven-part treatise on the diagnoses and treatment of ass flowers. The preferred method of treatment -- apart from dousing the afflicted butthole with boiling water and urine, which was another acceptable remedy -- involved heating "seven or eight small pieces of iron" until red-hot, puckering the patient's veiny starfish as far as it would pucker, and going to town on it like a line cook at Sizzler. For more serious cases, a tube could be inserted, and a blazing iron fed in and out of it like an ass piston until, eventually, the hemorrhoids separated "like a piece of burnt hide."
Neither facial expression in this illustration seems appropriate.
"But Cracked!" you're saying. "You're talking about an era in which people thought mountaineering would result in bumping into a god or 12! Of course medicine was barbaric!" And in response to that, let's fast-forward a couple millennia. William Allingham's thoroughly named Fistula, Hemorrhoids, Painful Ulcer, Stricture, Prolapsus, And Other Diseases Of The Rectum, published in 1882, still describes riding the red-hot poker as the ideal treatment for the "piles." Results tended to range from "great pain, retarded recovery, and abscesses" clear on up to death by overdone butthole.
Of course, modern treatment for severe hemorrhoids has moved away from lancing them with hot metal rods -- today, we do it with lasers! Welcome to the future!
#5. Bladder Stone Surgery Was Like Childbirth (But Bloodier)
If you thought bladder stones were a modern affliction that popped up right around the same time as the discovery of Mountain Dew, think again: The earliest such stone on record was found in an Egyptian mummy, which is probably why they wake up so angry after their tombs have been disturbed. In the Middle Ages, cases of bladder stones reached such epidemic proportions that so-called "lithotomists" traveled across Europe with specialized treatment tables designed to immobilize people suffering from the painful affliction while the pesky stone was hacked out of their grundle. As an added bonus, the tables could be quickly packed up for hightailing it out of town in the event that the patient bled to death from his or her groin, which happened frequently.
Notice there are four men holding the patient down.
The surgery -- done without such pleasantries as anesthesia or antibiotics, because those things didn't exist -- began with a pair of assistants pretzeling the patient into the sort of pose that Clive Barker's Wishmaster would inflict upon a struggling gymnast. Then the surgeon ... um, probed the patient with his finger until he was sufficiently sure of the location and size of the stone, at which point he made an incision just above the anus and popped that sumbitch out like a champagne cork on New Year's Eve.
"Well I'm not going to kneel directly beneath him. I'm no fool."
Should the stone be particularly resistant to removal, a menacing metal hook might be employed to pry it out through the cloven taint, because this was a period of history in which hooks were considered acceptable medical instruments. If you've finished shrieking long enough to realize that the terminology we've been using sounds familiar, that's because modern medicine still employs thelithotomy position today, most commonly for the removal of another ultra-painful growth known as a "baby human."
#4. The "Rest Cure" Forced Women To Stay In Bed For Months
Not all afflictions are of a physical nature. The late 1800s, for instance, saw a rash of women develop a mysterious mental condition that caused them to spontaneously act out in insane ways, such as "refusing to eat dinner in the pantry" and "demanding the right to vote." Luckily, neurologist Silas Weir Mitchell came to the rescue with his "Rest Cure," which was considerably less restful than it sounds.
If you think about it, a corpse is quite "rested."
Touted as a cure for "hysteria," a standard session of Dr. Mitchell's cure consisted of absurd amounts of bed rest typically reserved for comatose and/or dead people. Patients were confined to their beds, in the exact same position, for up to two months. No talking, reading, drawing, or any other activity that could possibly stimulate their highly ill minds was allowed.
Additionally, women undergoing the Rest Cure were fed a steady diet of bread, butter, milk, mutton chops, and more butter -- by force, if necessary -- in order to fatten them up (Mitchell was convinced that plumper women suffered from fewer mental issues). Nurses were employed to prevent muscle atrophy by performing massages on the patients -- in the event of a nurse shortage, Mitchell just fucking electrocuted them.
"If it's good enough for Frankenstein's monster, by God it's good enough for you."
Some high-profile women who received the treatment -- including writers Virginia Woolf and Charlotte Perkins Gilman -- lashed out against its counter-productive effects and accused it of being a blatant tool for perpetuating the subjugation of women, because that's exactly what it was.
In fairness, the Rest Cure wasn't strictly limited to women. However, male patients were free to choose between resting and traveling out West to engage in therapeutic activities such as "cattle roping, rough riding, hunting, and bonding with other men in rugged frontier locations." Basically, women had to stay mute in bed for eight weeks, whereas men got to reenact the plot of City Slickers. One famous recipient of this so-called West Cure was Teddy Roosevelt, so we guess at least that version of Mitchell's treatment wasn't total bullshit.
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