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Sunday, November 01, 2015

Medical (local) history II

It is quite surprising (or maybe not) the things we fail to notice in our everyday lives. Making a slight alteration to my path through the cemetery on the way down to Ashton - my home town in WN4 - I came across the gravestone photographed below.

Of course, 'surgery' in 1822 would have been radically different to that of today. In Jameson's lifetime progress was nonetheless being made on several fronts within medicine:

1796Edward Jenner develops a method to protect people from smallpox by exposing them to the cowpox virus. In his famous experiment, he rubs pus from a dairymaid's cowpox postule into scratches on the arm of his gardener's 8-year-old son, and then exposes him to smallpox six weeks later (which he does not develop). The process becomes known as vaccination from the Latin vacca for cow. Vaccination with cowpox is made compulsory in Britain in 1853. Jenner is sometimes called the founding father of immunology.
1800Sir Humphry Davy announces the anesthetic properties of nitrous oxide, although dentists do not begin using the gas as an anesthetic for almost 45 years.
1816René Laënnec invents the stethoscope.
1818British obstetrician James Blundell performs the first successful transfusion of human blood.
1842American surgeon Crawford W. Long uses ether as a general anesthetic during surgery but does not publish his results. Credit goes to dentist William Morton.
Infoplease: Medical Advances Timeline

Posting the photo and reading this gravestone I am minded about the need for respect and given to wonder about this man and his contemporaries? Is the family still local in Ashton, are they listed in parish records? Are there other records to follow...? What specific deeds gifted him this epitaph?

"Year of his Age": is thought provoking as we carry our Age literally, individually, around us, a bubble of time. Then we try to distil this into the life story of those whose living memory's fail them, but not their families and carers.

It is remarkable to see, in stark relief, the impact of a practitioner's attitude and aptitude. A lesson from the past for all healthcare professionals. This was the case thousands, hundreds of years ago, it is the case today and must be tomorrow.

As you read this slightly weathered stone there is another lesson.
Reading each word, with aged grammar and worn clarity even the past begs us to 'listen actively': the greatest lesson of all.

Bless you Mr Jameson.

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