Firebird766 wrote:Next: What's your conculture's medical technology?
I'll just say at the outset that this is the motto of the great medical college at Auntimoany, carved in great runes within the somber granite slab over the main gate: coueid nonne te mahtat, te refortiabet
. Ya, they rather fancy mottoes written in Rumelian.
Medicine is actually rather advanced, offering one a bizarre array of the stonishingly cruel, wonderfully unusual and, just occasionally, the brilliantly forward thinking. Of all the philosophical disciplines, it is probably the most experimental in nature. Experimental due especially to the plentiful supply of research victims: unfortunate Daine who have been captured by gangs of body snatchers and Medical Students who must complete their dissections & vivisections before end of term, usually.
Medical science has long understood what we think of as basic physiological and anatomical concepts. They’ve long understood that blood travels through veins and is moved by the heart (they divvy up the circulatory system a little differently, because they don’t understand that the blood is oxygenated, so don’t understand our concept of artery/vein); they know that the lungs take in air and that stopping them up will cause death (but don’t understand why); they are aware of the function of nerves; they are aware of the extent and function of the gut, the kidneys and the female reproductive system. Mind you, what they know best is the Daine organ systems and responses! But some comparisons have been made by slicing into human criminals. Most Daines' internals are similar enough, though they have about a 50/50 split between levo and dextro orientation.
This line of inquiry has led to a very advanced surgical practice, considering the essentially eternal bronze age technology level. They don’t know about microbes (I don’t think anyone’s ever thought of reversing the telespeculon
, turning it into a parviopticon
), but do know that hand washing is dreadfully important. Any good surgeon will surely wash his hands before leaving the theatre for lunch! They have some rudimentary understanding of anaesthesia, having long used sweet vitriol
and sugar of coca
as anaesthetics, also presurgical preparation (this largely means strapping the patient down or calling on the medical college's beadles to sufficiently subdue the patient), postoperative recovery (for those who survive, anyway), sterile technique (largely involving the dousing of instruments and gauze in alcohol during use) and the dreadful importance of haemostasis to successful surgery (again, one of the beadles' jobs is tending the surgical theatre's braziers and keeping hot the various cautery rods).
Surgeons are not afraid of going after bowel obstructions, hernias, cataracts, and all the lump-n-bumps of minor surgery. They’re pretty handy in the orthopaedics department as well, and have experimented some with fixing complex fractures with strips of metal; they even go into the brain and eyes with little fear. Mind you, prospective patients may very well approach an impending surgery with rather more apprehension!
After the surgeon and beadles are done with you, a third practitioner is called upon, assuming you have paid his fee. A very specialised surgeon is the Suturer. He's got his stock of silks and cottons, tendons, guts of every kind of animal and in a wide variety of sizes. He is always accompanied by his own beadle who keeps everything sorted. Usually the big hospitals and medical colleges will have suturers on staff along with their surgeons. A small barber-surgeon's workshop will only rarely employ a suturer.
On the other hand, internal medicine still largely relies on a physick
pulling the handiest bottle of green goo off the shelf, informing the patient that This Will Work
, and charging half a crown for the service. Much of the practice of the physick
involves what we'ld now call quackery: nostrums and "patent medicines", non-sense manipulations and other hoci-poci. Medical practices, such as using "Doctor Goosequill's No. 9 Powder Enema" or "os cleansing" -- which involves burning a specially prepared candle in one of the body's openings -- or "hair follicle acupuncture" range from the merely odd to the downright dangerous. Some of the more dangerous involve inserting wires into selected parts of the body and attaching the wires to either batteries or one of several kinds of electrically active animals. Others involve acupuncture-like proceedures. Such practices are designed to "alter the flow of shi in the individual" and while it may be true that a person's shi is altered, the risk for infection or electrocution is real.
Probably the most disgusting thing human doctors do is capture a hapless Daine, yank some of his teeth out and sell them to poorly dentated human customers. A Daine will eventually regrow the teeth. This is one of the first actual operations a young surgeon will do.
In general terms, even strict Mannish utilitarians don’t generally advocate chopping up healthy people to provide organs to cure sick people. However, what counts as people is different in different societies. In most human societies, humans obviously count as people (although, it is true that some people are more human than others...) and one of the designated functions of “less useful people” is “resource for more useful people”. Just as, in the bad old days when there were times of famine, one of their functions might be “emergency food source”.
Of course, said “less useful people” obviously attempt to flee these particular usages or alter them whenever possible, since it is a rare "less useful person" indeed who wholeheartedly concurs with the notion that he is, in point of fact, so less useful as to be best used as source of harvestable bits and pieces or else as fodder for something else.
In several places in the Eastlands, Daine have been used for just such purposes. Teeth usually. Daine have characteristically good teeth, and when knocked out, will grow back. And what is more, every thirty or forty years or so, they grow a whole new set. The more entrepreneurial sort of dentists have taken keen notice of these facts and have set out to make good use of them by looking upon a likely Daine not so much as a fellow person and child of the Heavenly Father as a handy (and basically free) source of high quality dental implants. Which said dentist can relatively safely harvest and bill his own patients for. So not only do the wealthier humans get a good set of living dentures, but the resource is renewable. It's green dentistry at its best!
Prosthetics is probably the sanest aspect of medicine in The World. The most famous Prosthetist was Rondo of Iberia, who in the 18th century constructed the now famous Golden Hand
for Hanno, Autarch of Cartadash. It consisted of a gilt bronze sleeve that fit over the Autarch's left stump, the arm of which he had lost in battle, and had articulating gilt bronze digits complete with silver finger nails, fine leather pads on the inner side for a grip and wire linkages that were attached to Hanno's feet. When he flexed or extended his feet and toes, he could form a fist or move individual fingers. Springs of some sort were used to help return the device to the hand's "natural posture". One ingenious feature of the device was that it was "programmable": secondary wires could be attached in different ways to form oratorical gestures for mornings in the Senate. Other prosthetics that have been made are life-like legs (with articulating feet) and non-functional hands. The legs are generally constructed of carved wood covered with bronze sheething (with musculature and scars as an optional extra); the feet of which are hinged and return to normal posture via springs linkages. They've perfected a knee joint (for amputations above the knee) that also has spring linkages.
Lancetry: a Dying Art
One branch of medicine that, thank goodness, has mostly died away is bloodletting. The 13th century Rumnian physician Pancrates wrote in the treatise De Ex Sanguinarion
: "Any fool can see that the last thing a wounded man needs is a 'good bloodletting'!" Nevertheless, it remains a posh treatment for various fluxes and agues amongst ladies of means. One suspects this is more because lancetmen tend to be good with the ladies, handsome and their offices posh and cater to ladies' grooming habits -- often the lancetman's parlour employs girls who do hair and manicures and similar treatments.
I can’t think of any Daine that really practice medicine as we would understand it. Most of their healers’ time is taken by wound, parasite and poison treatment - i.e., healing what’s broken. Daine don’t succumb to microbes and are very resistant to DNA drift; though they can be poisoned and can suffer from a variety of internal and external parasites. These are generally pretty easy to take care of, however. Hygiene generally does the trick for anything external, and a touch of dwimmery and sound herbcraft & wortlore does for the internal affliction.
Daine practice a kind of transplant process, but it is almost entirely magical in nature and it usually involves parts from an animal or beast. The only known way to reverse the effects of the Change is to quickly seek for a powerful healer who can use the body of a slain animal, usually a wolf or a bear, or some beast such as a warg to cure the boy of his condition. Daine healers may also stimulate the replacement of missing limbs. This is pretty deep dwimmery and not many healers have these gifts.
Daine healers (female only) have long known that changes in hue of the eye indicate changes in mood. Some have thought that physical, mental and spiritual dysfunction can be discovered by careful study of an individual's eye colour.
Daine healers have also long used certain kinds of salamanders to shock a person whose heart has stopped. This is the same kind of salamander used to power various devices that use the destilled spirits of Elektra City.
Hotai Medicine: I'd Rather be Dead Thank You!
Hotai medicine consists of three basic pathways. One is practically a matter of forcing the patient to drink one of a number of horribly dreadful curative / restorative potions until he recovers; the other involves the rough manipulation of a fracture, the removal of broken-off projectiles (arrow heads or the like) or the swift amputation of a crushed limb in a rather hack-and-burn way; while the third simply involves snuffing the patient if it looks like he won't pull through. Strangely, for all their savagery and primitivity, Hotai potions are generally quite effective.
Quackery is certainly alive and kicking in the world of Men and their multitudinous ailments. And, for the average person, it is sometimes a rather difficult choice to be made, whether to consult with a quack doctor and his sure-fire cure or, heaven forbid, an actual doctor of physicl! Either way, you get scammed of your money, but at least your misery can be relieved somewhat by the quack's snappy patter and charm! Some quacks are travelling folk, making the circuit of all the big towns and cities, selling their wares and their services. They usually set up in a market stall, plaster the public places with handbills advertising their arrival and wait to rake in the dalers and pence from poor suckers hoping for a "sure and sovereign cure" for all their aches, pains, agues, gouts, phlems, phlams and crotchy-rot.
Quack medicine is very hit or miss. Rarely are their potions any more than a mixture of various herbs mixed with coagulated pig blood or salt of saturn or borax all laced with sugar and honey and dissolved in strong alcohol and put up in fancy glass bottles. Sometimes a quack will actually get things right. One good example of quack medicine that has migrated is this quack doctor's adaptation of an old veterinary cure for phlegm in livestock:
It has long been known by veterinarians (especially those that work with the hunting dogs of the nobility or with the racing horses of the quality) that the technique called couppaticom
, or rapidly but gently clapping the patient upon the back, is a helpful treatment for phlegm in the chest or pneumonia. The gentle clapping helps break up clods of mucus and the patient is better able to hack them up, thus eventually relieving the symptoms.
In xix century Auntimoany, a back alley physician came up with a fad treatment that took the world (or at least the countries of the Eastlands) by storm. Rather than ordering his slave to perform the couppaticom
, he arranged to secure a small squadron of perhaps eight Pixies, small sprites of the woodlands around, to a kind of vest that was wrapped around the sick patient. The wee Pixies, desirous of escaping the confines of the vest, would soon begin to kick and punch and pummel whatever was between them and freedom. In this case, namely, the material of the vest and the patient around which the vest was wrapped.
After a quarter of an hour of being gently kicked by eight Pixies trapped in a vest, the vest was unwrapped and the petient was made to cough repeatedly. Often times, much sputum would be coughed up and many patients recovered from their infections rather quicker than those who underwent the more traditional treatments like rubrefacients applied to the chest or else being abused by the lancetmen and their incessant bloodletting.
The physician in question was one Peter Pansyshade, and his device is called Peter Pansyshade's Particular Pneumonia Corrective
. Many doctors and patients have sworn by this now tried and true therapy. Back in the day, Dr. Pansyshade used to advertise his clinic in the broadsheets using (almost assuredly somewhat hyped up) testimonials.
Said Samwise H. of Auntimoany: "Pixies may not kick very hard, but when there's a lot of em in Dr. Pansyshade's patent Corrective, they really do pack a whallop!" Said Leugol M. of Shady Graves: "Before arriving in Dr. Pansyshade's clinic, I could hardly take a breath for all the pneumonicals [sic] in me lungs. But now, after taking Dr. Pansyshade's Corrective over a course of three days, not only am I still alive, but I feel as if I can breathe deeper than ever!"
Of course, not all of the testimonials seemed quite right. Said Lucas P. of Auntimoany: "After taking four treatments with the Corrective at Dr. Pansyshade's clinic, I was able to walk again and also the callouses on my hands cleared up!"
Next: If anyone, who is taught to read, write and do sums in your culture?