But consider for a moment what treatments looked like in Voltaire's time. No wonder Monsieur Voltaire spoke so disparagingly about doctors. After all, docs of his day thought it was a swell idea to drill holes in their patients' skulls. And I'm not talking about a little postmortem artistic creativity here, either. No sirree, those people weren't done using those skulls yet. Yep, back then if someone yelled, "You idiot! Do you have a hole in your head?" the answer was very likely to be, "Why, yes... yes, I do."
Doctors back then also had a thing about removing some of that pesky blood from their patients' bodies. If leeches didn't do the job quickly enough, the medicos could always count on a judiciously-applied cutting instrument. ("The patient looks to be anemic. Quick... hand me the knife! Her blood is killing her...")
But as fascinating as skull-drilling and blood-letting may be, we're gonna consider another kind of treatment altogether. Let's just say... it ain't prune juice.
|1776 textbook drawing of a tobacco smoke enema|
Glyster is just a fancy old-fashioned name for enema, and a Dr. Houlston wrote the following poem in 1774 as a catchy little guide on how to resuscitate a patient :
Tobacco glyster, breath and bleed
Keep warm and rub till you succeed.
And spare no pains for what you do;
May one day be repaid to you.
|You can shove that cure...|
It may be hard to believe today, but tobacco and tobacco smoke was widely recognized as having medicinal properties until the early 19th century. That's about the time scientists decided nicotine was actually a poison, which kicked the whole smoke enema treatment in the keister. So to speak.
Dr. Houlston's poem is all well and good, (which is more than we could say about his patients) but I think it's time for a more modern take on the subject. It's time for (ahem) my take on smoke enemas...
|She regretted eating the extra fiber beans.|
A call girl once had a cold
And went to her doctor, I'm told.
He blew smoke up her butt
And into her gut—
In two weeks, she felt good as gold.
Then few called on her for a fling,
For she developed a peculiar thing:
When she coughed or passed gas,
Smoke puffed out her ass
In a perfect, but smelly, smoke ring.
Turns out, like some other early medical practices, smoke enemas weren't all they were cracked up to be... so now you know where the expression, Don't blow smoke up my ass originated. See what delightful things you learn chez moi? (I don't know about you, but as for me? I'd rather let the cold go away by itself.)
He has been a doctor for a year now and has had two patients, no three, I think — yes, three; I attended their funerals. [Mark Twain]
You may not be able to read a doctor's handwriting and prescription, but you'll notice his bills are neatly typewritten. [Earl Wilson]
My doctor gave me six months to live, but when I couldn't pay the bill, he gave me six more. [Walter Matthau]
When I told my doctor I couldn't afford an operation, he offered to touch up my X-rays. [Henny Youngman]
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.