Came across this gem today: in ancient Rome, they treated inflammation of the tonsils with a tonsillectomy. So far so good, right? Until you read how this was managed:
‘….removal should be attempted by scratching round with a
finger and drawing them out….”
Did ya catch that? The medicus removed the offending tissue by scraping it out with his fingernail!!!!
Oh, ack. The ancient writer telling us this graciously points out that if the fingernail scraping didn’t work, ‘it may be necessary to assist this operation by seizing them with a sharp hook followed by excision with a scalpel.”
Remember, there was no germ theory then, so hand-washing was an iffy thing. Think about it.
Ack. Uck. Cough. Oh. My. Gorge.
There’s been a lot about ancient living/medicine that has grossed me out but, for whatever reason, this one has really stuck in my craw.
Source: Celsus, from Roman Medicine by Audrey Cruse.
Elizabeth O. Dulemba says
So you’re telling me it really choked you up?
I wonder which modern medicine our predecessors will get totally grossed out over…..
Amalia T. Dillin says
*shudder* yeah that is pretty awful.
Vicky Alvear Shecter says
@ Trisha, Exactly! I’m sure it will be something that seems perfectly reasonable to us.