The Steel Windpipe

A dying child in rural Russia in 1916, by Mikhail Bulghakov. At eleven o’clock that night a little girl was brought. The mother’s face was contorted with noiseless weeping. When she had thrown off her sheepskin coat and shawl and unwrapped the bundle, I saw a little girl of about three years old. For a Read More …

Suppose they bring me a hernia

Forty-eight days ago I qualified ‘with distinction’; but distinction is one thing and hernia is another. Once I watched a professor operating on a strangulated hernia. He did it, while I sat in the amphitheatre. Suppose they bring me a hernia? Worse, they brought a dreadfully injured young girl, only daughter of a devastated widower. Read More …

Bladder stones, a 17th century musical

Lithotomy – and hence, the lithotomy position. Commentary French composer Martin Marais (1656-28) wrote this dramatic, narrated piece about the experience of this terrifying, high-risk, no-anaesthetic operation in the 17th century. The approach was trans-perineal. Samuel Pepys had a bladder stone removed this way when he was 25 in 1658, repeatedly mentioned in his diaries, including Read More …