Mission

Surgical Instruments, Procedures and Whatnot

69 posts in this topic

And you were one of those who liked the amputation article! (The images in that were far more graphic, I think.)

I was looking for a near period image of a bucket of blood and Mr. Von Gersdorff's book was the most accommodating one I could find.

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What was the treatment for "flux", "camp fever" and other gastro-intestinal epidemics then? I mean, yes, many people died... but some still survived typhoid fever, disinteria, yellow fever and the things. Even cholera!

Edited by Elena

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That is an article unto itself. It would take me several days to sort and sift through all the data I have.

I did recently read something that recommended the old internal issue standbys: purges, bleedings and a regulated diet. I seem to recall the author (can't remember which one) being quite guarded about using bleeding, though. Curiously, purging seems the odder suggestion to me in a flux (diarrhea), but it's what I recall.

Perhaps I'll look at it for this month's article. I need something short because I'm putting together some link pages that are taking a lot more work than I expected them to.

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Well, I have sifted through my master document and come up with 20 pages of notes on fluxes. Hopefully I can distill that down - that amount would typically produce a 7-10 page article. (I mean, how much can I say about diarrhea? I guess I could just keep running on and on... ;):P )

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Thank you very much, it was common at sea, as far as I heard (and on land too in those times). Until then, I found a book in your links dealing with it, and I read a bit - when I find my information, I have nothing against researching "on my own", I don't take (always) an "already digested" answer. Anyway, your book helped me with what I needed immediately (I think it was the one published in 1736).

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Annnnnnd the material is indeed going to produce a ten page article. Just what you all wanted, I know - 10 pages on diarrhea. (Or maybe ten pages of diarrhea.)

Anyhow, because it's so long and I decided to go and read a whole book and enter the relevant info in between that last posting of mine and this one, this article is going to be in two parts - you will find the first four pages by following this link. This month we'll look at the various types of fluxes identified by surgeons and physicians during the golden age of piracy and what they thought caused those illnesses. Next month, we'll look in depth at the multiple (and I do mean multiple) cures that were proposed during the period.

Enjoy!

quarters_wooden_bucket_mary_rose_peter_c

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This month's article, the second half of the article on Fluxes is now up. This part of the article features all the cures that period surgeons attempted when treating fluxes during the golden age of piracy. (If you go back a few posts, you will see that this article was originally suggested by Elena. I do take requests, although after spending the last three weeks working feverishly on all the herbal cures, I'm not taking any more requests like that one. The first person to ask about how surgeons treated fevers will be shot. ;) )

Enjoy!


illness_gustav_dore_and_yet_i_could_not_

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This month's Surgeon's Journal article is about goats being used as food shipboard and during landfall, sorting instances from period and near period by geographic location. It also contains a discussion about their use as food specifically by shipwreck victims and maroons along with how they were used as food for recovering patients during this time.

Goats in the Sailor's Diet During the Golden Age of Piracy

goat_madagascar_fort_dauphin_ken_walker.

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"Broth mix’d with Turnip-Tops..."

Now that's frightening.

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For June I have put together the first of a two part article on shipboard burns during the golden age of piracy. The part discusses all the different ways a sailor could be burned with accounts of such from various period references. It then explains how the humoral theories dealt with the concept of burns and finishes with a period description of the 3 degrees of burns.

Next month will be about cures of burns, featuring the various medicines used to treat burns - mostly topicals - as well as how surgeons treated things like blisters, dead skin, scars and burns of the face.

burns_combat_de_la_cordeliere_pierre-jul

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I've finished the last half of the article on Burns. It begins on Page 6. Featuring a closer look at the topical medicines used to treat burns and how they stack up today. Also looking into some of the procedures that period surgeons employed including wound dressing, debridement, handling burn blisters and scars and special treatments required for facial burns.

distilling_tripus_aureus_lucas_jennis_16

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There's a new article on my web page about cauterizing tools for those interested. It talks about both potential (chemical) cauterizing agents and actual cauterizing irons. You can see that article here.

amputation_de_gangrena_et_sphacelo2_will

I've also greatly expanded my Halloween article. The original article focused on the use of pumpkins during period along with some ghostly tales. I've added a couple more period ghost stories as related by a period surgeon along with material on sea- and land-based monsters from the era. You will find that article here.

halloween_monsters_african_monster_worke

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At the request of the Surgeon's Journal readers on Facebook, I added an article on how to treat fractures during the golden age of piracy. It looks at how fractures occurred shipboard, the different types of fracture, the theory and practice of repairing them and how they healed using period resources.

fracture_examination_Het_Menselyk_Het%20

Artist: Jan Luyken - Surgeon Examining a Leg, From Het Menselyk (1694)

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I've been pretty remiss on updating this. There have been a dozen articles posted on my website about period surgery (and related topics) since the one on fractures. For those interested, here they are starting with the most recent one:

Fontanels, Issues and Setons - about the use of fontanels during the golden age of piracy. Fontanels were ulcers intentionally created in the skin and then infected with an irritating agent to encourage the formation of pus. This was believed to be a method for concentrating bad humors to remove them from the body. This article looks in detail at the various types of fontanels - issues and setons, how they related to humor theory, the tools that were used to make them, how they were made and the illnesses they were used to treat. (March, 2015)

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Needles and Sutures - details the types of needles and sutures used, where they came from, cannulas (suturing tools specific this and previous eras) as well as information on how suturing and even gluing of wounds was performed. (February, 2015)

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Parasites and Their Treatment During the Golden Age of Piracy - on the sighting, diagnosis and treatment of parasites as understood by surgeons during the golden age of piracy, focusing particularly on their [the parasites] [and the surgeons] relationship with the sailor. This article hits all the high-points (with most graphic images): Bedbugs, Fleas & Lice, Biting Flies & Mosquitoes, Intestinal Worms, Skin Dwelling Parasites, Toothworms and Weevils & Other Beetles. (January, 2015)

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Treating Headaches During the Golden Age of Piracy - looking first at the causes ascribed to headaches by period authors and then at the methods used to cure them. (December 2015)

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Cupping Therapy Page - looking at the history of cupping, the tools used including cupping glass materials, sizes and scarificators. The various reasons for cupping and the procedures used are examined in detail. (November, 2014)

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Bibliography Page - For those of an academic bent, I added a bibliography page. (Yeah, I know, it's not exactly going to make for gripping reading.) I was sort of fascinated to discover that there are 221 books and articles referenced on this site (which does not include ANY of the references to other websites... that would easily add another 100+ references.) (November, 2014)

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Memento Mori - looking at the use of memento mori (Latin for "remember you will die") in art, jewelry, anatomy books and pirate flags during the golden age of piracy. (October, 2014)

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Cauterizing Procedure During the Golden Age of Piracy - the procedure for cauterization - the use of chemicals and hot irons to burn the skin for medicinal purposes. It is meant as a companion piece to the article on cauterizing tools written a year ago. (September, 2014)

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John Woodall's Medicine Chest Ingredients - A detailed look at the ingredients of Sea Surgeon John Woodall's Medicine Chest as featured in the 1639 edition of his book the surgions mate. Includes Woodall's comments of the medicines, an look at how they were used during the golden age of piracy and how they were prepared. (July-August, 2014)

quarters_medicine_chest_and_plaster_box.

The Patrick Hand Original™ Planters Hat - A discussion about pirate hats, including some history of sailor's hats during this period. Focusing on surgeon re-enactor Mission's planter-style hat, how and why it was created by the Prince of Pirates, Patrick Hand and what Mission did with it after he obtained it. (June, 2014)

hat_patrick_explanation8.jpg

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Since April of this year I've been working on an article about medicines in use on a ship during the golden age of piracy: The Sea Surgeon's Dispensatory. This includes medicines that would have been listed in a Sea Surgeon's Pharmacopoeia or Dispensatory. (Books containing medicines, their recipes and uses.)

The first half of this article is about the history of medicines including the two primary theories about medicinals, how medicines were used including their variety, forms and efficacy, how medicines were obtained with a special focus on sea surgeons and sailors use of medicines overseas and the ways different types of medicines were kept viable at sea. It also looks at the different types of books explaining the medicine from the golden age of piracy as well as the books written by sea and military surgeons containing prescriptions for medicines, with short biographies of their authors. The first half is completed with an examination of medicine concerns specific to sea surgeons.

The second half of the article contains 450 medicines found in the three sea surgeon's manuals I felt were most relevant to the period. It includes 284 medicines from John Woodall's various editions of the surgions mate (published 1617, 1639 and 1655), 152 medicines from John Moyle's 1693 Chiurgius marinus with the addition of 29 compositions recommended by Moyle to be made as needed and 118 medicines from apothecary Dr. John Tweedy's "Bill for Medicines" for a privateering voyage undertaken in 1743. Each medicine tells which authors list it, what type of medicine it is, the humoral properties of the medicine if they are specified, the prescription for how to make the medicine if it is a compound or chemical medicine and the uses of the medicine.

The_expert_doctor%27s_dispensatory_Pierr

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After six months of work, much of it translating old Italian, Portuguese and French documents, I have posted an article on Maritime Quarantine for the Plague during the Golden Age of Piracy. You will find the first page here. It first briefly looks at the disease as it was understood then, the history of quarantine and the way incoming ships, the people and goods on them were quarantined in Mediterranean ports during the GAoP. It then focuses on the lazarettos -structures built for quarantining incoming ships - which were active during this period, including in Italy, France, Portugal and Spain. It finishes with a discussion of how to quarantine was performed in England up to and including this period.

 

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That is a fantastic amount of research and I love the details about the 'Lazarettos'.  

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I visited the Lazaretto Nuovo ['new' lazaretto] when I was in Venice last Summer. Sadly, there was not much left of the original structures. The French destroyed it all when they dismantled the Venetian Rupublic in the late 18th century.

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