Friday, August 3, 2012

An Inside Look At Tonsils, Or A Medical Instrument From Hell

By Stephen J. Gertz

From: Leçons sur l'hypertrophie des amygdales et sur
une nouvelle méthode opératoire pour leur ablation

by Edouard Chassaignac.
Paris: Jean-Baptiste Baillière, 1854.
First (only) edition. Octavo. 120 pp.

Just the other day I received a letter from a medical student in Guatemala,   a chronically unemployed chimney sweep from Papua, New Guinea with higher ambitions and one of my protegés. Aware that I once practiced occupational therapy in hospitals and sub-acute facilities and that when I put on my white, crisply pressed lab coat I transmogrified onto a brilliant, sage physician possessing all the medical knowledge in the world, he asked me, "Doc Gertz,  do you have any lessons on the hypertrophy of tonsils and a new method for their ablation? I've a test coming up."

After performing my ablutions I should have told him to go look it up, I wasn't going to be around forever. I  am, after all, mortal and not the God-like medico I actually am but play-down, yet I couldn't resist the opp to, once again, have the ans immediately and inflate my vainglorious ego to its proper psi.

"Okay," I wrote back, "here's what you do. When those almond-shaped babies swell up like my vainglorious ego at its proper psi, yank 'em out. But not with the standard wire-cutter, apple-corer or strawberry-top remover. My old buddy, Edouard Chassaignac, has a new gizmo from 1857; he wrote a book about it. He took a couple of dinner forks, wrapped 'em around a couple of soap bubble-blowers. The bubble-blowers isolate the swollen tonsils, and the forks, when stuck into them, tell you they're done and ready to be served to the pathologist. It's also great for tumors, piles, and polypi, your basic weed-whacker for bad growths. Best part, no blood."

I couldn't resist spritzing one last factoid at him to push him over the top and into perpetual awe. "The procedure is called 'écrasement.' It means 'crushing.'"

Hell, Ed could've used a nutcracker to similar, albeit messier, effect but he's got the "M.D." after his name and I don't, like that should make any difference.

Need I add that Yauwii aced the exam? I'm feeling pumped.

Image courtesy of Libraire Alain Brieux, currently offering this item, with our thanks.

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