Dear oh dear

In 1829 a fifty-year-old labourer, John Marsh, was knocked down and run over by a cart laden with bricks.  He was conveyed to Winchester County Hospital, where the doctor who examined him recorded that his scrotum, on inspection, was found to be of most enormous size, extending two thirds downwards between the thighs, and measuring … Continue reading Dear oh dear

The child that cried in the womb

Remarkable news reaches The Medico-Chirurgical Review (June 1822) from Prussia:  Crying of the Foetus in Utero.  A lady, during pregnancy, had experienced some distresses of mind, and had had several discharges of the liquor amnii.  In the eighth month of pregnancy while in bed, and while several of her friends and relations were supping in her bed-room, the cries of … Continue reading The child that cried in the womb

Injured by the imagination

Forget drinking in pregnancy; here’s something far more dangerous.  From the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 1695: A lady was delivered of a girl, with a wound in her breast, above 4 fingers long, extended obliquely downwards, over the whole breast.  I found not only the wound outwardly in the skin, but after a nearer … Continue reading Injured by the imagination

Skipping-ropes: the silent killer

April 29th, 1905, and the ‘Minor Comments’ section of the Journal of the American Medical Association has a stark warning: Even among the apparently milder forms of children’s athletics there are some that are capable of producing injury or are even deadly at times.  The newspapers have recently reported the death from heart failure of three … Continue reading Skipping-ropes: the silent killer

A case of hiccups

Towards the end of May 1797 Miss A.B., a young woman from the Isle of Man, was afflicted by a particularly tenacious bout of hiccups.  It sounded like the panting which occurs after violent exercise, or like an aspirate pronunciation of the interjection Ha!  The pulse, respiration and speech were not in the least disturbed….It … Continue reading A case of hiccups

The case of the poisonous pheasants

In the month of February, 1791, several persons in Philadelphia were seized, in about three hours after dining upon pheasants, with giddiness, violent flushing of heat and cold in the face and head, sickness at stomach, and repeated vomiting. Some of the afflicted Philadelphians became delirious, or lost the power of speech.  Some recovered after … Continue reading The case of the poisonous pheasants

The incredible sleeping woman

The first issue of Medical Observations and Enquiries, a medical journal founded in London in 1757, contains this sad little tale: Elizabeth Orvin, born at St. Gilain, of a healthy robust constitution served the curate of that place for many years very faithfully, till the beginning of 1738, that she became very sullen, uneasy, and so … Continue reading The incredible sleeping woman