Reflections on 2011 and onto 2012

Posted By on January 1, 2012

So I was going to finish writing a post that I started a few months ago about amputation (yes, finally), but instead it seems appropriate that on this first day of 2012, I write to you, the reader, about the past year and the coming year.

This past year saw a lot of development and many events for this surgeon reenactor.  I lectured, I was invited to new sites, and gained many new friends, and many new pieces to add to my collection and to my knowledge.  I also was met with many challenges, both personally in pushing myself to keep learning, and in proving myself to others.  Fortunately I’ve met these with the zeal I typically do, and have succeeded in continuing to improve my impression.  I’ve learned more French in the past year than I thought I would, and I’ve even had the opportunity to sing in French with some members of Quebec units.  For that I am extremely grateful.

I’ve travelled up to Ogdensburg again, and as far south as Guilford Courthouse in North Carolina.  In doing so, I’ve gained new friends, and new lessons in packing and planning, in developing the impression to be more pointed to different aspects of the same period in history, and even in speaking to different people on many different aspects of what it is that I do.  One of the most interesting moments I’ve had this year was at Fort La Presentation, where a French Canadian lady thought that I was just a “Sage-femme” or Midwife, and wanted to know how I would use an amputation saw in Midwifery.  It took some time, but Iwas able to convince her that I was more than just a Sage-femme, but I did get to teach her about some aspects of Midwifery I had picked up over time.  Trying to find the proper words for Honey, and Flour, was definitely a challenge, but later on, she brought a friend back and even passed on the information to her!  I had succeeded, and was very happy to have taught someone some good information.  Because that’s what its all about, isn’t it!

One of the things that I have always strived for is the acceptance and respect of the units that I am a part of and associate with regularly. Sometimes this can be tough, because you’re a new person trying something that they haven’t seen before, or that they never thought of needing, or any number of factors.  This year, I was honored by my French Unit, Compagnie Dumas, with gifts from some of the elders of the unit.  My friend J gave me 2 original physic/surgery manuals from 1761 and 1791 respectively, and B, one of the founders of the unit, gave me some documentation on Frater-surgeons, and a copy of the first Encyclopaedia Brittanica (its a reprint that was published in the 1970’s during the bicentennial).  Both of these were majorly humbling to me because the showed me one thing- I’m doing something right.

J’s comment to me when he gave me his gifts was that I’m doing so well with what I’m doing in my impression, and that it was so wonderful to see it.  B is not a man of many words, and was absent when his gift was given to me, but the fact that he passed them onto me is enough to know how much what I’m doing is impressing him.  Other friends have given me books and other items for surgery (M, S, K, R, P, and C to

name just a few), and I am eternally grateful for these things.

So what does 2012 have in store for Doctor Clift?  Well I have already started building my calendar for the year, and I’m happy to say it is just as busy as last year, if not more-so.  I’m very excited by this.  In doing more events though, I want to keep my skills and knowledge up to the pace that I’ve kept in the past. So I am planning on spending more time in study and research mode.  In 2011, I was gifted with a new job, which should allow me more time to do so, and I plan on committing one night a week to studying medicine.  My first focus of the year will be on the doctors of the Jacobite Rebellion, so look forward into hearing a little more about that.  I also plan on getting more french vocabulary together.  It seems as if the majority of my events next year will be French, so it will be good to know the french terminology for medical items.  Plus, I have 4 books currently on French-Canadian medicine during the 18th century which are exclusively in French, so its going to be impossible to escape.

I also promise that I will be more diligent about posting here in my blog- though it may be more about what I’m learning and less event recaps than I had originally intended.  Writing things down helps me retain what I’m learning, I’ve found, and so writing to educate everyone will help a lot.  So I’m aiming for at least 2 posts a month.  And since I have some back articles sitting in drafts, I think I can do ok with that.  If not, feel free to help me by pushing me about it.

So that’s basically it from the Doctor’s Desk at the moment.. except for one thing.

THANK YOU.  Yes, YOU!  For listening to my geeking out about medicine in a long past time period, for giving me books, or leeches, or information, or ads from the Maryland Gazette, for inviting me to events, for helping me with setup and teardown, and for being there to listen to my rants, or for just reading my blog.  Know that I am eternally grateful for all of you, and appreciate every little bit that you do.  So in 2012, my hope for you all is that you have as much fun and acceptance and knowledge as I did in 2011.  And that I see all of you at events in 2012.  Happy New Year!!


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