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medicine

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Five Minutes from Lorraine

July 7, 2017

During the period affectionately known as the Baby Boom, routine amniocentesis and maternal sonograms were still years away. And while the 50s and 60s can claim fame to some of the best music in the history of the universe, its struggling medical practices offered no help to new parents trying to choose a name for their children. That being the case, one would think the prudent thing to do would be to spread your bets equally across two columns of names: one for boys and one for girls. But my parents were so convinced that I was going to be a girl, they put everything on pink and let it ride. When I finally did appear, I was a surprise to everyone—even me. I wasn’t a girl.

Nowadays, new parents can avoid some of the stress of choosing a name by asking for the sex of their new baby weeks or months ahead of his or her arrival. While it does narrow down the naming choices by 50%, it still doesn’t make the task any easier. In Germany, new parents get help from the government by requiring strict conventions that insure that a child’s name is consistent with the baby’s gender. The name can’t be interpreted as being offensive or ridiculous (a practice the United States has yet to embrace) and its spelling must be conventional, probably to avoid any little Adolfs running around Marienplatz in dresses. read more

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Great Achievements in Medical Fraud

April 20, 2017

If you were diagnosed at the turn of the century with lumbago, puking fever, black vomit, consumption, decrepitude, falling sickness, milk leg, ship fever, softening of the brain, St. Vitas dance, trench mouth, dropsy or heaven forbid, dyscrasy then chances are you were in big trouble. Not only did the “modern” medical community misunderstand most of these diseases, they were also clueless as to how to treat them.

To the Rescue

Facing a life of interminable pain and suffering, many sufferers of these diseases resorted to hundreds of unfounded medical treatments – sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn’t. Here’s a brief list of some of the more popular medical treatments and the claims by their originators:

  • The Magnetic Mug – Magnetic forces have long been used to cure everything from fatigue to lower back pain. A Colorado firm stated in their 1998 catalogue of products that their Magnetic Mug stores material between the stainless steel exterior and porcelain interior that magnetizes any beverage contained in it. By magnetizing the liquid, space is created between the beverage’s molecules, adding alkalinity to it. The alkalinity in beverages was refuted to facilitate absorption, minimizing dehydration and flushing out body toxins.
  • The Battle Creek Vibratory Chair – Many people who enjoy a bowl of Corn Flakes in the morning are familiar with their inventor, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg of Battle Creek, Michigan. Dr. Kellogg also designed a number of therapeutic devices, including The Battle Creek Vibratory Chair. After strapping the patient into the chair, it would shake violently and “stimulate intestinal peristalsis” that was beneficial to digestive disorders. Prolonged treatments were also used to cure a variety of maladies from headaches to back pain.
  • The Toftness Radiation Detector – If the Toftness Radiation Detector looks suspiciously like the PVC piping and couplings you bought last summer at the Home Depot, it’s because it is. By passing PVC tubing outfitted with inexpensive lenses over the patient’s back, Chiropractors listened for a high-pitched “squeak” that meant that the device had detected areas of neurological stress, characterized by high levels of radiation. The device was widely used until 1984 when it was deemed worthless by the Food and Drug Administration.
  • The Foot Operated Breast Enlarger – In the mid-1970’s, silicone breast implants were still in their infancy so, many women pining for larger breasts spent $9.95 for a foot-operated, vacuum pump and a series of cups that promised “larger, firmer and more shapely breasts in only 8 weeks”. As it turned out, over 4 million women were duped into buying a device that produced nothing more than bruising – even if they bought the entire kit that included a 1-ounce bottle of “Cleavage 6 Breast Enhancement” capsules.
  • The Crystaldyne Pain Reliever – One of the most popular pain relievers on the market in 1996 was nothing more than a gas grill igniter. When the sufferer pushed on the plunger, the device sent a short burst of sparks and electric shocks through the skin to cure headaches, stress, arthritis, menstrual cramps, earaches, flu and nosebleeds. After being subjected to FDA regulations for medical equipment, the company disappeared with thousands of dollars, telling their consumers that “their device was in the mail”.
  • The Prostrate Gland Warmer and The Recto Rotor – Even someone without the slightest imagination would cringe at the idea of inserting a 4 and a half inch probe into their rectum while connected to a blue light bulb and a 9-foot electrical cord. However, for thousands of adventurous consumers the gland warmer and recto rotor (that’s not rooter) promised the latest in quick relief from prostate problems, constipation and the piles.
  • The Radium Ore Revigator – In 1925, thousand of unknowing consumers plunked down their hard-earned cash for a clay jar whose walls were impregnated with low-grade, radioactive ore. With no more radioactive material than that found on the dial of an inexpensive wristwatch, the Revigator promised to invigorate “tired” or “wilted” water – “…the cause of illness in one hundred and nine million out of the hundred and ten million people of the United States”.
  • The Relaxacisor – For anyone who hated to exercise but still wanted a lithe, athletic body, the Relaxacisor was the answer. Produced in the early 1970’s, the Relaxacisor came with four adhesive pads that were applied to the body and connected by electrodes to a control panel. The device would deliver a series of electrical jolts to the body, taking the place of regular exercise – while reclining on a sofa. All 400,000 devices were recalled for putting the consumer at risk for miscarriages, hernias, ulcers varicose veins, epilepsy and exacerbating pre-existing medical conditions.
  • The Timely Warning – In 1888, one of the most embarrassing and debilitating experiences a man could endure was an “amorous dream” or “night emission”. Fortunately, Dr. E.B. Foote came up with the “Timely Warning”, a circular, aluminum ring that was worn to prevent “…the loss of the most vital fluids of the system – those secreted by the testicular glands…”. For better or for worse, no diagrams have been found to support exactly how the device was worn.
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    The Adrian X-ray Shoe Fitting Machine

    April 20, 2017

    During the 1940s, people were concerned about their feet. Mothers, fathers – even the U.S. Army. As a result, the guardian of modern foot care was born – the “Adrian X-ray Shoe Fitting Machine.”

    A Star is Born

    Although there are a number of conflicting stories about its origin, the first x-ray shoe fitting machine has generally been attributed to Dr. Jacob Lowe, a Boston physician who was looking for a fast and efficient way to analyze soldiers’ feet during World War I. Dr. Lowe was concerned with the number of poorly fitting boots worn by military recruits and was interested in a way to cut down on their foot-related injuries.  In addition to providing the good doctor with a superior view of the foot, the x-ray shoe fitting machine allowed Dr. Lowe to speed up production by not requiring soldiers to remove their boots.

    The x-ray shoe fitting machine was a simple design. A fluoroscope was mounted on the base of a wooden platform and sent x-rays upward toward a florescent screen. The client would place their foot between the two and the image would be directed up to a reflector, where three viewing scopes displayed the foot’s image to the customer. The entire area was sealed within a lead-shielded area for protection of the client. Unlike x-rays that are captured on film, the machine displayed a real time image of the client’s foot – shoes and all. read more

    All Entries Animals Health Home Life Humor Medicine

    Take One Leech and Call me in the Morning

    April 20, 2017

    One of the last things a patient imagines seeing as they look across a sterile operating room are leeches, maggots and scum-sucking fish. But, all three have earned a solid place in the medical community based on the results they achieve – simply by doing what comes naturally.

    The Flies Have It

    Maggots are nothing more than fly larvae: one of the most basic forms of life. But to many patients with wounds that refuse to respond to conventional treatment, they are a godsend. For the majority of people recovering from life-threatening wounds, contusions and limb re-attachments, antibiotics provide much of the follow-up care they need. But for a small percentage of patients who do not respond to modern medicines, maggots slither in to fill the gap.

    Unlike most other living creatures, maggots thrive on dead tissue. Applied to a dressing that is made in the form of a small “cage”, maggots are applied to almost any area that does not respond well to conventional treatment. The 1mm maggot thrives on consuming dead tissue (a process called “debridement”), while ignoring healthy areas. After several days, the maggots are removed after having consumed up to ten times their own weight in dead tissue, cleaning the wound and leaving an ammonia-like anti-microbial enzyme behind. read more

    All Entries Appearance Health Home Life Humor Medicine

    You Think You Have it Bad?

    April 20, 2017

    If you’re one of those people who wake up in the morning complaining about “not feeling yourself” or are constantly hunting down new pimples and fighting back the hair in your ears, you could have bigger problems.

    Here are six syndromes and disorders documented in the medical literature of unusual maladies that have made the news but possibly missed your attention. While none of them are considered life-threatening disorders, they do represent some of the nasty tricks the body plays on us.

    Who is That in the Mirror?

    Take the case of Robert (not his real name) who was recently diagnosed with Capgras Syndrome, a rare psychological disorder that makes the sufferer suspicious of their own reflection in the mirror – or anyone else’s.

    Capgras victims have difficulty making physical and emotional connections with the people, places and things that they see, even if they’ve been a part of their lives for years. They’ll see their reflections in a mirror or other shiny surfaces and wonder who the stranger is that’s peering back at them. read more

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