Posted on March 16, 2013 by Museum of Health Care
‘It is a general truism of this world that anything long divided will surely unite, and anything long united will surely divide.” – Luo Ghuanzhong, 1300s, CE
The following blog was written by Curatorial Volunteer Mary Catherine Shea
In 1846, New England dentist, William T.G. Morton, demonstrated to medical students that anaesthesia de-sensitized patients to pain during surgery and minimized the risk of death from shock. Although his demonstration is considered a pivotal moment in the history of anaesthesiology, Morton’s biography forms only one chapter in the history of individuals who have used anaesthesia to successfully perform surgeries.
Approximately 1600 years before the Boston demonstration, Chinese physician, Hua Tuo, (statuette at left), invented an anaesthetic that he called mafeisan and applied this substance to patients undergoing abdominal surgery. Rising to fame as a surgeon within the Eastern Han dynasty of 25-220 CE, Hua Tuo had access to the pharmaecopia texts and philosophical traditions of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism that still circulated during the end of the Han dynasty’s golden age. Hua also witnessed the peasant rebellions, the shanghan epidemic and the military offensives that characterized the beginning of the dynasty’s decline. Some censuses show a population loss of 34 million between the Eastern Han and the Western Jin dynasties, as warfare and mass migration depleted the population. (more…)
Filed under: Ex crypta: The Curator's Blog | Tagged: history, hua tuo | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 22, 2012 by Museum of Health Care
My absolute favourite thing about being a history student is having my previous assumptions about historical narratives dashed. During my first year at Queen’s I quickly learned that what was deemed “fact” in my earlier education is actually just one of many historical narratives to consider – history isn’t as cut-and-dried as I had thought.
I learned this lesson very clearly in my class “The Atlantic World”, during our discussion of the Columbian Exchange – the transfer of ideas, people, plants, animals, and pathogens between the European settlers and the Native populations of the New World. While each of the transfers that occurred in this exchange is fascinating to study, the pathogen transfer generally receives the most attention. By 1600, the vast majority of the Native population in Mexico was decimated due to exposure to European diseases, most famously smallpox. The Natives had not had any exposure to these European diseases and, therefore, their bodies were not equipped to fight them.
Smallpox is almost always credited as the biggest, and sometimes the only, disease that wiped out the Native population; however, research published in 2006 suggests a possible unidentified and deadlier New World disease, the origins of which remain a mystery even today. (more…)
Filed under: History of Current Healthcare Issues | Tagged: Columbian Exchange, history, Mexico, smallpox | 2 Comments »
Posted on August 3, 2012 by Museum of Health Care
Pneumonia Jacket, 1920-1940,001029001
My Mum is a born caregiver, and one of the ways in which her giving nature manifests itself is her desire to help the sick. Now she, unlike me, detested the sciences, so the post-secondary study of medicine was never exactly part of her plan. But despite a lack of official training, that woman can walk into a drugstore and within minutes select an over-the-counter product to cure what ails you based on the small-print dosages written on the sides of bottle. So when my Mum became seriously ill, to the point where any physical movement was more or less impossible, I felt lost. Even at 17-years-old, it had never occurred to me that there would come a time when my mother would no longer assume the role of the family caregiver, even in a case of her own illness.And what was this crippling disease? This may sound anti-climactic, but it was a bad case of pneumonia, a severe infection of both lungs which causes tissues damage and an increase of inflammatory fluids therein. These stressors can lead to significant respiratory distress, which can in turn lead to death. For eighteen days, my mother was immobile in bed, and for months afterward she continued to be unable to exert herself in the slightest. Of course, however difficult her illness might have been for our family, I am grateful that we live in a time when treatment is available and that we weren’t forced to deal with the much more difficult instance of her death, which might well have occurred just over 100 years ago.
Filed under: History of Current Healthcare Issues | Tagged: family, history, pneumonia, stethoscope | Leave a Comment »
Posted on July 11, 2012 by Museum of Health Care
The war of 1812, lasting from 1812 to 1814 was a result of long-standing disputes between the government of Britain and the government of the United States of America. The war gradually came to an end that permitted the survival of the small British North American colonies.
The principle land action occurred along the border between the northern states and Upper and Lower Canada. As Alan Taylor describes in his book The Civil War of 1812, the residents on both sides many of who were related or engaged in commerce across the border had no interest and in some cases opposed the war. These same civilians often lost their homes, possessions and sometimes their lives as a result of military actions. Fire between friends was not friendly.
Friendly Fire is a project developed by the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in collaboration with the Museum of Health Care engaging the power of the artist as a story teller and synthesizer. The artist, Howie Tsui investigated health and medicine during the war of 1812. The resulting exhibition illuminates the brutal conditions of the body in war and the medical techniques of the period. (more…)
Filed under: Exhibitions & Galleries | Tagged: amputation, contagious disease, history, mental health, surgery, war | Leave a Comment »
Posted on July 6, 2012 by Museum of Health Care
A Field Township quarantine sign, 1922.
According to my mum, I had a really bad bout of scarlet fever when I was around four years old. From what I am told, I developed strep throat, which led to a rash, which led to a four-year-old kid who was too sick walk into the doctor’s office. After that dramatic visit to the family doctor, I was dosed up on antibiotics and then promptly recovered. Years later, I read the excellent Booky trilogy set in Depression-era Toronto by Bernice Thurman Hunter, and noticed a passing mention of a local family who had been quarantined due to scarlet fever. Drama Queen that I was at 12, I began to fantasize about the seemingly romantic fate of a death sentence due to an illness I had managed to overcome. From that time on, I’ve often taken moments to contemplate the fact that, had I been born earlier, there is a good chance that I might not have lived past the age of four. (more…)
Filed under: History of Current Healthcare Issues | Tagged: antibiotics, contagious disease, family, history, life expectancy, quarantine | 4 Comments »
Posted on May 15, 2012 by Museum of Health Care
Toy medical kit by Fisher Price, 1977 (008056002)
Most of us remember playing doctor or nurse to an injured doll or teddy bear. When I was a child my Cabbage Patch doll often fell ill and my sisters and I nursed her back to health using a Fisher-Price Medical Kit. Developed over thirty years ago, this toy has stood the test of time and has also evolved several times since its inception. The kit contains everything a young doctor or nurse needs, including a stethoscope, thermometer and a sphygmomanometer, also known as a blood pressure cuff. These colourful children’s versions of the real instruments also helped my parents prepare me for trips to the paediatrician; I learned what to expect through play, which made check-ups and doctors visits much less stressful for all parties involved. (more…)
Filed under: Collections | Tagged: collections corner, family, history | Leave a Comment »
Posted on March 23, 2012 by Museum of Health Care
What is TB?
Culture of tuberculosis bacteria
Tuberculosis is caused by an infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, rod-shaped bacteria that are spread mostly through air-born droplets or dust micro-particles of dried sputum. Once inhaled, the body’s immune system typically reacts by engulfing the bacteria, forming a tubercle that contains the bacteria to help keep it from spreading. In most cases, the bacteria will die; in others, however, the bacteria can survive, become dormant, and the infected individual may develop active disease at a later date, sometimes soon after infection, sometimes years later. (more…)
Filed under: History of Current Healthcare Issues | Tagged: contagious disease, history, Museum website, public health, tuberculosis, vaccine | Leave a Comment »
Posted on March 21, 2012 by Museum of Health Care
Masticator, c.1900-1915. Accession #004015002.
Our teeth are an essential part of our daily lives – we use them to do things like eat and form our words. How healthy are your teeth? Today, there are many things we can do to protect our teeth – brush twice a day, floss and visit your friendly neighbourhood dentist every six months. When we are small, losing a tooth is exciting! There is the anticipation of a visit from the Tooth Fairy and then amazement when a brand new tooth pushes up in place of the old one. As we age, the prospect of losing a tooth is no longer so exciting and we have to examine other alternatives to replace lost teeth. (more…)
Filed under: Collections | Tagged: collections corner, dentistry, history | 2 Comments »
Posted on February 10, 2012 by Museum of Health Care
Joseph Lister, c1867
Sir Joseph Lister, Bt. was born 1827 in Essex, England. He graduated from University College, London, with a Bachelor of Medicine in 1852 and, at age 26, entered the Royal College of Surgeons. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Edinburgh to pursue his career and practice. In 1860 he accepted the position of Chair of Clinical Surgery at the University of Glasgow. In this capacity, Lister found that 45-50% of amputation patients later died of infection. Spurred by this statistic, he undertook the experiments on the prevention of infection that earned him wide renown. (more…)
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: anti-bacterial, disinfectant, history, surgery | Leave a Comment »
Posted on February 3, 2012 by Museum of Health Care
Have you ever thought about where dentures come from? Archaeologists have found evidence of denture use dating back to 700 BCE and there have been many manifestations since, but their purpose has never really changed. Dentures were, and still are, used to replace teeth for both functional and aesthetic purposes. Early dentures were carved out of bone or ivory but since these materials are not covered with enamel, they react with the saliva in the mouth and decay, causing an unpleasant taste and odour. Porcelain dentures were introduced during the mid to late 1700s and didn’t rot, but they were unconvincing as natural teeth because of their stark white colour.
Upper denture with a carved ivory base and human teeth, 1850-1870. Accession #010020428.
Filed under: Collections, Exhibitions & Galleries | Tagged: collections corner, dentistry, history, war | Leave a Comment »