Struck dumb

Extinction of voice caused by lightningToday’s likely tale comes from the Canada Medical Journal, where it appeared in 1870.  Dr Chagnon from the wonderfully-named St Pie in Quebec submitted this curiosity, with tongue firmly in cheek:

In July, 1868, came to my office a woman with the following history: Two days previous, during a thunder storm, she, according to her own expression, swallowed the thunder! A very hard thing to digest indeed.

lightning bolt

She was stooping through a window, when, in the act of gaping, she felt a stunning shock all over her throat. She dropped on the floor half suffocated, without being unconscious, remained about two minutes in that position, when her throat suddenly resumed its former condition, less the loss of vocal power.

Medical training equips doctors with the knowledge to deal with all manner of swallowed foreign objects, poisons, etc. Thunder is not one of them. Dr Chagnon was not fazed. He went straight to his medicine cabinet. And his cruet stand.

At the time I saw her, she felt yet a burning sensation through her larynx, especially when swallowing warm drinks. As she was weak, I prescribed tonics and stimulants, with local application of mustard to the throat, and she was able to speak loud three weeks from date of shock.

Must have been the mustard that did it. Dr Chagnon seems a little embarrassed about this triumph, however:

Remarks.—I present this case to the medical profession more on account of rarity than special interest.

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