Friday, January 19, 2018

Blowing Smoke

Thought for the day:  You can't wait for inspiration; you have to go after it with a club. [Jack London]

If not a club, how about a reeeeeally big gun...?

On the way to visit our older son and his family for Christmas, Smarticus and I took a tour of the battleship U.S.S. Alabama. And tour it we did, from top to bottom and stem to stern. Really cool, but whew! Talk about a LOT of skinny ladder-like steps to haul our weary bones up and down... and of course, there were LOTS of grimy handrails to assist us with that job. All of which had been touched by LOTS of people before (and after) us. In retrospect, it probably wasn't the smartest thing for us to do in the middle of flu season.

Oh well.

I had a fantasy of hitting the new year with my imagination on fire and guns blazing, (so to speak) but I'm feeling so lethargic right now, my brain feels like it's full of cotton. I'm not really sick... just blah. Too blah to come up with a worthwhile blog post this week. So I could either skip it... or go with a rerun.

Sorry. A rerun from 2013 it is. One that makes me giggle... and I DID update it a teensy bit, so I wasn't a total slug. Hopefully, my brain will rejuvenate, my imagination will soar, and I'll come up with something new for next week's post. (But, alas, it probably won't be as good as this one...)

                            Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.
                               (And keep your hands off of those grimy handrails!)

                                                              *     *     *     *


Thought for the day:  Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing.  [Voltaire]

Actually, I have a lot of respect for the medical profession. However, some of the cures foisted upon us peons over the years? Not so much. You've probably seen ads on TV about the possible side effects of various medications (described soothingly in a well-modulated mellow voice, of course) that are horrifyingly worse than the ailment they're intended to treat. Um, yeah. I think I'll suffer through a little discomfort as opposed to risking that oh-so-dainty-sounding anal leakage or the (Pbbbt! Don't worry about it!) occasional heart stoppage. 

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.



Here we have a sketch of a simple portable device commonly used in those days. (Heck, you never can tell when ya might need a shot up the arse when you're away from home, right?) The largest part (A) was made from a pig's bladder. Parts D and E are a mouthpiece and tap. (Wait! Wait! A mouthpiece???) We all know where that nefarious part K goes, and FG? It's a smoking pipe. (A pipe? Back up.. a mouthpiece?) What can I say? This handy-dandy take-anywhere device was for blowing tobacco smoke up... well... you know exactly where they blew it.

1776 textbook drawing of a tobacco smoke enema
Yep, tobacco was considered medicinal, and its smoke, practically a panacea. Would you believe Hippocrates recommended smoke inhalation to treat female diseases, and Pliny the Elder even recommended it to get rid of coughs? (That seems a bit counter-intuitive, doesn't it?) Later on, Spanish botanist and physician Nicolas Monardes (1493-1588) practically waxed poetic about the miraculous healing powers of tobacco smoke, and he advocated using it to treat the common cold, cancer, headaches, respiratory problems, stomach cramps, gout, intestinal worms, and the aforementioned female diseases. What's more, in the good old days, doctors believed tobacco smoke worked equally well whether you sucked it in one end or had it blown up the other.

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...
Tobacco smoke enemas became even trendier when Europeans found out natives in the New World used 'em, too. Betcha didn't know Indians didn't just use smoke signals to communicate, didja?

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.
                   











55 comments:

  1. Tobacco smoke enemas...not quite sure what to think about that. That just sounds so weird. Not to mention unpleasant. Love the quotes, especially the Walter Matthau one. Hope you have a wonderful weekend and that the blahs go away.

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    1. Yeah, weird's the right word. But no more weird than doctors appearing in ads for cigarettes on the premise that they were "good" for us.

      You have a terrific weekend, too.

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  2. I've been hit with the same case of the blahs. How are you coming with that book? You should send me what you have done, or I'm going to open the old file. I'm really curious to read it now that I'm not asleep 12 hours a day.

    I bet that is where the hole in the head came from. I never thought of that.

    In Charleston, SC you can tour a WWII aircraft carrier and submarine. Totally awesome and worth the germ exposure.

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    1. Sorry to hear you've been infected with the blahs, too. Maybe it's because we're already longing for the spring...

      It's a slow slog with the rewrites. (Again, the blahs...) I'm having a semi-difficult time turning Archie into a more palatable fella without losing his edge altogether, but I'm getting there. I just got a call from a gal yesterday who just finished reading the first version, even though I told her it was gonna change, and she LIKED it. Didn't hate Archie at all. She felt sorry for him. So if you want to dive into the first version, have at it. Or you can wait until I finish with the rewrite... maybe a month or so from now? (I'm more than halfway through now.)

      I'd love to visit Charleston someday. Maybe a long weekend trip.

      Have a super weekend.

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  3. My Dad said when he was a wee chap he used to get ear ache and his Dad would sit him on his knee and he would blow smoke into his ear. He said it was quite soothing. Not so sure how soothing it would be elsewhere.

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    1. I think I would've preferred smoke in my ear over the cure my parents used on me. They put hot oil in my ear. Once, they let it get too hot, and my scream was probably heard up in your neck of the woods.

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  4. Sigh. Not all that many years ago a friend's brother had cancer. And coffee enemas were prescribed. I am not at all certain what they were supposed to do, but suffice it to say, they didn't.
    I also read that an English doctor, travelling abroad, noticed how beautiful the skin of Turkish women was. He also noticed that they were often seen consuming Turkish Delight and similar treats. So he recommended that his patients eat as much sugar as they could.
    I do hope you get over the blahs, and am so very grateful that you have posts from brighter days to share.

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    1. Oh dear. I never heard of a coffee enema treatment, but it does sound pretty questionable. Like the apricot pit "cancer cure" of a couple decades ago. And a friend of mine with MS went through a bee sting treatment... didn't help her a bit.

      The temperature is rising, and so are my blahs. :)

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  5. Sorry you are feeling a bit "off", but your post made me laugh, especially the smoky bits! Touching railings is surely a great way to spread germs, I always disinfect my hands when I travel by tram. Have a good weekend, hugs, Valerie

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    1. I'm glad the post made you laugh. My job here is done... :)

      I'm a real stickler for using those disinfectant wipes at the grocery story to clean the cart handles, but for some stupid reason, those dirty handrails never crossed my mind until it was too late...

      You have a super weekend, too. Hugs back atcha.

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  6. I suspect that years from now people will be surprised about some treatments that are currently administered.

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    1. You're probably right. Surely the future will hold something much less barbaric than smooshing boobs between two metal plates to check for breast cancer...

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  7. The farther we go the more some treatments seem ancient. But then they do use healthy person poop and shove it up a sick person as a treatment indeed. Supposedly it actually works too. Sounds so archaic. Glad we live in the now than when they shot water up your ass or whatever else. I'd have gloves on for all the railings though.

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    1. Yuk. I'd think I'd prefer the smoke...

      Gloves would have been smart... in retrospect.

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  8. I love your reruns, some I remember some I do not. So it is all gud for me.
    The smooshing of boobs is the worst !

    cheers, parsnip and mandibles

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    1. I agree about the miseries of boob-smooshing. It's like a modern form of torture.

      Cheers back atcha!

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  9. Touring that battleship must have been waaaay cool! I love ships like that for some reason. Always have. We toured HMS Belfast, moored in London. That was fantastic but only half the size of yours!

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    1. Yes, it WAS way cool! My hubby and I are from Baltimore, where the U.S.S. Constellation, a sail-only warship from the mid-1800s, has a permanent home, so we'd toured that many times, as well as numerous other types of ships, but this was our first more modern mega-warship. Amazing! Its sheer size was overwhelming, and being aboard something like that makes history come alive.

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  10. trying to avoid touching stuff in public is tricky. Sure hope you escape the horror and start feeling much better. But a rerun is still good and funny. Thanks for a Friday chuckle. Now, I'm off to wash my hands!

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    1. Yeah, it can be tricky trying to avoid touching stuff in public, but there was no way I would've even considered attempting to tackle those ladder-steps in a look-ma-no-hands kinda way. (Not even if I were sixty years younger!)

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  11. A tobacco smoke enema, Wow I wouldn't want to be the guy on the mouthpiece end, nor the guy on the receiving end either, like you I'll just let the cold pass.

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    1. I'm with you. Not my idea of a fun "cure" or a fun delivery system... from either end.

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  12. That whole blowing smoke up raises a question. Who was the first person to think this might be a good idea and actually do it. Would you volunteer to be the blower or the blowee? The whole idea gives me the shudders.

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    1. HA! Good questions. I can't say I would've been in the front of the line of volunteers to take on either of those tasks.

      But if the prevailing belief in those days was for the curative powers of smoke, I guess they blew it wherever they thought healing was needed...

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  13. Yuuuuuuup this is proooooooobably the number 1 reason why I'd say no to traveling back in time.

    Made me giggle though.

    Feel better soon! :-)

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    1. HA! Yeah, you're right. Some of the medical "cures" and practices of the past provide a mighty good argument against traveling there.

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  14. The dreaded blahs often come as the last Christmas decoration is put away and the lights go off. They go away with the first bite of Valentine’s candy. Seeing. robins in the yard increase recovery also. This has been medically proven (by me).

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    1. Well, Doc, sounds good to ME! (Certainly a lot better than a smoke enema!)

      I think I'll go buy myself some Valentine's candy today... :)

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  15. Too funny, friend Sue ... and very uplifting as well, thank you ... Wishing you a very happy flu season ... Me think me is having some chicken broth and stay in bed for the rest of me life ... anyway ... Love always, cat.

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    1. HA! I can't say as anyone has ever wished me a happy flu season before... The same to you...? :)

      Chicken soup and a nap sound pretty good, but I'm afraid I couldn't stay in bed too long. Our cats like to eat. My hubby, too. And come to think of it... so do I!

      Have a super weekend!

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  16. So sorry you are not up to par. Yes, those pesky flu bugs are going around. Thankfully I've not caught it yet anyway! Takes about a full week to recover they say. Well if nothing else I learned my something new for today. Thankfully, I'd never heard of that smoke treatment before. Take good care and get better soon!

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    1. Thanks. Last year, the flu knocked my hubby and me down for almost three months. This year is a cakewalk compared to that.

      HA! Sorry. No telling WHAT ya might learn here. :)

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  17. What a funny share! (The tobacco part, that is.) My dad and his brothers would have pointed their cigars to it and exclaimed, "See!!!"

    DH and I are slowwwwwly recovering from nothing more serious than headcolds, but I know exactly what you mean about feeling blah. Push liquids, OK? And feel better soon!

    PS - Great photo of you aboard the battleship.

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    1. Thanks. I'm glad it tickled your funny bone.

      Yes, ma'am. I'm drinking LOTS of water.

      P.S. Yeah... that's my best side. :)

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  18. Hi Susan - no hiding from smelly smoke rings! I see no smoke rings from you ... so guess those stinky rails didn't pass anything in that direction ... just a few greasy mitts that have given you the blah jits! Not nice and I sure hope you'll be feeling better soonish ... your posts do amuse!

    The tour around must have been fascinating for you both ... and yes they are large those battlingships! Cheers and be well - Hilary

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    1. Hi-ya, Hilary. Nope, no smoke rings emanating from me. Yet. :)

      The tour was definitely fascinating. I'm sure you would've loved it, too. Cheers!

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  19. Susan, our planet is passing through an intergalactic blah-belt. I suffer too. Decidedly, we suffer. Wrote a poem on "Gardening with Geo" today but that's the 1st since "Trainride..." 5 days ago --don't know what I was trying to say there --blowing smoke?-- but those few who commented helped me see what I might have been talking about. You're welcome to take a crack at it --oh my, I'd better stop. As always, I delight in your post and always appreciate and have practiced good hygiene on battleships. Without checking spelling, I think the introductory procedure was called trepanning and the bleeding instrument was a fleam --both of which get red, wavy underlines from Google.

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    1. Alas, I fear you may be right about the extent of a nefarious blah-belt. Let's hope we all find our way out of it or rise above it real soon.

      I'll definitely check out your new poem. My brain is so fuzzy, I don't even know what I mean these days, but I'll give your poem a crack.

      Smartie. Next time we visit a battleship (If there IS a next time, I'll have a package of wipes at the ready.)

      You're right on both counts. Google does a lot of things well, but often misses the mark when it comes to recognizing some perfectly good and correctly spelled words.

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  20. I also read somewhere that the upcoming total solar eclipse is the reason for our dwindling energy at the moment.

    And Susan, the side effects of medications sometimes far out-weigh the reason we need to take it.

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    1. Hmmm, I haven't read that, but all I can say is the energy level better not dwindle much more, or I won't be moving. :)

      That's for sure! The "cure" is often worse than the disease.

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  21. Hi Susan! Great battleship photo, but the story really blew my mind! I don't remember this classic and I'm so glad you repeated it. I'm glad that I never had to experience a smoke enema. This was fun and I especially enjoyed the poems!

    Julie

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    1. Hi-ya, kiddo! Yeah, I'm glad I never experienced a smoke enema, either. Smoke blown in our faces is bad enough. (And a wee bit more dignified...)

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  22. So sorry you are not feeling 100% ... hope you feel better soon.

    I enjoyed your post, although the smoke treatment did leave me shaking my head ...

    Take care, my good wishes.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Thanks.

      I'm afraid a LOT of my posts may leave you shaking your head... :)

      All the best back atcha.

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  23. Fascinating post Susan! Yes, something is definitely affecting our energy levels.

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    1. Where you are, I'd say the heat is probably sapping your energy? Here, I think winter is turning us into sloths. :)

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  24. Entertaining! Smoking to cure cancer. WEll, that is one heck of a cure.

    I miss house.

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    1. Yeah, it's seems so counter-intuitive to us NOW that smoke would ever be considered a cure for cancer... or asthma. (Or anything else!)

      House was one of a kind, wasn't he?

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  25. Tobacco smoke enemas--yikes!! We've come a long way since then--thank goodness! Have a happy week, Susan! :-)

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    1. Thank goodness is right! We have come a long way, but years from now, civilization may look back on 2018 and shake their heads at our "quaint" medical cures...

      You have a super week, too!

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  26. I'm shocked that people would think that smoking would cure ailments - especially respiratory ones. Cigarettes smell horrible! Maybe cigarette companies were paying people to say that.

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    1. It does seem ridiculous in an obvious kinda way, doesn't it?

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  27. With reference to your opening quote - "When opportunity knocks at your door, smash the door down before she leaves"!
    CLICK HERE for Bazza’s propitious Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

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