June 2, 2012

Cupping, Bleeding, Leeching and Tooth Extracting...

Just some of the many services your 1850s barber could supply.

Today's post is brought to you by the shot that I have to receive today at 8:30 AM. I am very scared of needles. They gross me out like you wouldn't believe. I would much rather undergo cupping, bleeding or leeching rather than have a needle stuck in me. Yes, I know needles don't hurt and that this is an irrational fear, but I really dislike the thought of having a needle anywhere near me. It's very unnatural and if I wasn't bullied into getting one, I never would. 

Wednesday, I had to race from work to the doctors to get a test done for school which required the unnatural puncturing of my arm and the insertion of a needle filled with a foreign substance. As I sat in the chair, I asked my companion to take note of how similar the chair I was sitting in was like the ones used for lethal injection. He told me he could strap me down if I wanted. I politely declined, but it would have made it easier on the nurses.
Credit: http://www.burnsarchive.com

As I was sitting there, one nurse came in and called their new nurse.

"This is as good of a time as any. You have to learn how to do this eventually,"she held the needle up and flicked it a few times.

The new nurse astutely replied "This probably isn't the patient to try on." :)

She was right.

After some back and forth between the two of them, the more seasoned nurse had a go and after 30 seconds it was finished and I was thoroughly grossed out for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, they ran out of another shot that I "need" and I have to go back today. I bet those nurses are looking forward to the grown-up-woman-who-acts-like-a-child-near-needles. I'll know I'm an office attraction if other nurses pop in for random items like toothpicks or something. :)


By the 1850s, bloodletting was losing favor but was still an acceptable part of the medical field. Cupping, while lesser known, was at its medical height in the West.  Physicians would heat small glass cups and place them on the skin to create a vacuum, which drew blood to the area to form a blister.   

This painful procedure was performed during the Civil War on Sarah Morgan, a wealthy refugee from Baton Rouge after a wagon accident left her unable to walk. She described the experience in her journal, which has recently been published as “The Civil War Diary of a Southern Woman,” as follows:
“I was interrupted yesterday morning by Mrs Badger who wished to apply a few dry cups to my back, to which I quietly submitted, and was unable to move afterwards with[out] pain, as a reward for my patience.”  

When the doctor visited her later, she wrote of the pain she experienced, the large amount of blood lost and the reactions of her sister and friends during another cupping procedure. "two dozen shining, cutting teeth were buried in my flesh....Then came the great cups over the cuts that I thought loosened the roots of my teeth with their tremendous suction power, and which I dare say pulled my hair in at least a foot."

I guess I'll just bite the bullet and get my shot. :( "Bite the bullet?" That's a post for another day.

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