My second book, The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth, is out later this year.
A sailor who swallowed dozens of penknives for a bet. A student who fought a duel in his sleep. A mysterious outbreak of dental detonation. A soldier who operated on his own bladder stones. And the Amphibious Infant of Chicago, a baby that could swim underwater for half an hour at a time.
These are just a few of the strange and wonderful tales I’ve collected from early medical journals – now available for a modern audience to enjoy for the first time.
Ranging from seventeenth-century Holland to Tsarist Russia, colonial India to the American West, these stories are by turns funny, bizarre, poignant and sometimes downright implausible. But they all have one thing in common: they are all entirely genuine case reports.
Some are perplexing illnesses – like the woman from Rhode Island who began to urinate through her eyes, ears and even her navel. Others document a few of the strange remedies used by early doctors – including crow’s saliva, mercury cigarettes and even the anus of a living pigeon. And you’ll also learn the unexpected dangers of such innocent activities as cycling, writing and wearing a hat.