Introducing the newest members of Doctor Clift’s Hospital

Posted By on February 7, 2011

Meet Sippy!


Meet Gulpy


Meet Glugger!


Around Christmas, a fellow reenactor gifted me these handsome creatures- leeches!  A teacher he was doing an interpretive class day with had purchased them for the class to learn about, but was just going to dispose of them.  Knowing someone who would surely love to have these fabulous creatures, he took them home and placed them in a mason jar with a lid made of cloth to allow air to get to them.   Another reenactor friend delivered them a few days later.

Leeches were used in the 18th century for bleeding patients in the hopes of readjusting the 4 humours (black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood.)  If any one was out of joint, a myriad of tasks could be performed to realign these to balance, including enemas, emetics, and bleeding as the top 3 options.  It is seen that bleeding is one of the primary ways to re-balance the humours.  Leeches would be tempted to bite the body with sugar water or a smear of blood, and once their teeth dug into the skin, they would pull “bad blood” out of the body, which in some cases was was a better way of bleeding than the typical lancet or blister application (cupping.)  For bleeding children, leeches were regularly used.

Leeches do have their downside- you never know how much blood they will take.  When colonists found medicinal leeches in lakes and streams here in America, they were very excited, especially due to their size (up to 9 inches long!).  However, and perhaps it was due to not being bred to the task for centuries, the American leech would take less blood.  It would regularly take 6 American leeches to draw an ounce of blood, whereas a single European leech could take that and keep going.

Because of their tempramental nature in keeping leeches alive, it seems to be uncommon for these to be used on military campaigns or long travels. Local physicians and Apothecaries would have a leech container in their shops, and would have a small travel case for short trips for home visits. Leeches are most comfortable in temperatures between 45 and 70 degrees farenheit, and need to have their water changed regularly, very much like fish in an aquarium (25-25% per change, every week on average).  They do not need to eat regularly- every 45-60 days is sufficient, and they can actually go up to a year without eating.  As my leeches are not getting a diet of human blood, I provide them a chicken liver to pull the blood out of approximately every 50 days or so.  They love it.

In the 18th Century, the same leech would be used for its entire lifespan (upwards of 6 years) on various patients for various ailments.  They were particularly efficient in removing blood from hematomas in sensitive areas (eyes, mouth, nether regions, etc), but could be used for any illness the physician saw fit to use them for.  Today, with the understanding of germs, bacteria, viruses, and bloodborn pathogens, Medicinal leeches are a single use item.  Like Mosquitos, they can carry disease from one person to another if used in that manner.  I currently have a volunteer to demonstrate the use of leeches, but if I were to do that, they would become X’s leeches. So it may not happen.  I’m still debating.

The Idiots guide to leeches!

The amazing thing to me is the fact that leeches are still used today in modern medicine.  While not used to actually remove significant amounts of blood, they are actually used for their saliva’s anticoagulant properties.  Once the leech has finished its activity, the anticoagulant will continue bleeding at the bite location, for up to 6 hours afterwards.  This is beneficial, according to my handy dandy leech guide that came with my leeches, for venous drainage- after digit reattachment, reconstructive, or plastic surgery.  My guide also tells me that leech therapy today is typically used for 3-7 days until the venous drainage is complete.

And the book also has some fabulously gross case study photos, that I may end up keeping out at events just because they’re so fabulous.  I may just bring them out for presentations and lectures, however.

And the coolest thing that I learned from this book, is that you can get a leech mobile home!

Maybe I should have named them variations on Bubba

For only $139, I can get a specially designed container, called a Leech Mobile Home, to carry my leeches and allow for easier care!

And there are 2 sizes, regular and mini…so its like a singlewide and doublewide!

I have to admit, it is really neat to see them swim around, and use their suckers to move from one part of the jar to another.  Its also awesome to see them suck the blood out of the chicken liver.  Two Hours and that thing went from pink to grey, and my leeches were happy happy!!  I can’t wait to feed them again!

Sadly, I don’t think they’ll make it out to many events, because of their temperature specifications.  Air conditioned events and early season events (March/April) will be their main appearances.  And I do need to get a period leech bowl for them, so I don’t get the “I didn’t realize Mason Jars existed in the 18th Century!”

I also need to come up with more period correct names.  While I think sippy, gulpy, and glugger are perfect names, I should come up with something for during presentations that are more  appropriate.  That being said, I could use some suggestions.

A sort of Do-Over

Posted By on February 3, 2011

Well its been almost a year since I last wrote a post here.  A very long , strange year indeed, but now its time to get back onto the wagon as it were and head back out to this land of blogspheres and information.

This time, however, I’m not going to set it up so that I’m only doing the first person notes.  I’ll do the first person notes in italics, but a lot of this is going to be my own musings on 18th century medicine, history, and experiences.  Charlotte will still have her teas and balls and such to attend and talk about, Doctors Clift and Marcadent will still post when I feel them, but since a lot of who they are is my research, and I love sharing what I’m learning with everyone, it will mostly just be me.

That being said, please check out my bibliography and calendar, as both are updated regularly too, as I hope this blog will be.

If you have any ideas for what I should write about, or things you’d like to know more on , etc, please comment and let me know.  I would love to know that 1- people are reading, and 2- there’s an interest in it all! 🙂

I think that’s it for the moment- I have a bunch of ideas on things to write, but I want to make sure I have  them all together in my head first!

Le commerce avec les sauvages

Posted By on May 4, 2010

Aujourd’hui, j’ai assisté à l’un des plus troublants, et pourtant sites les plus fascinants que je n’ai pas encore vu de mon mandat à titre de chirurgien à la Société. Il m’a incité à prendre une pause grande, et de me retirer dans mon quartier seul ce soir, au lieu de profiter de la compagnie du reste des hommes, que je remets le récit de mon journal et de revivre le moment pour moi.

J’ai été le nettoyage de mes instruments quand un mouvement a été agité à la porte du fort. Curieux comme je l’ai été, j’ai mis le couteau, et a rejoint les autres pour observer les allées là-bas. Un groupe de nos alliés, le Deleware comme on les appelle, était descendu le fleuve dans leurs canots. C’était un groupe d’environ 15, la plupart des hommes. J’ai déjà vu des hommes en costume et les mœurs similaires dans nos voyages au sud de Québec, et les avait vus se battre avec une férocité inconnue à mes compatriotes à bien des égards. Il semble que cette guerre signifie beaucoup plus pour les sauvages, comme le fait toute la guerre. Les hommes racontent des histoires de voir les restes carbonisés, et les organismes scalpé le long des sentiers. Mais ce que je voyais venir me mettre mal à l’aise avec la pensée de ces alliés.

Led derrière l’un des guerriers de plomb de la troupe était une jeune femme, pas beaucoup plus vieux que je pense 20, vêtue d’une simple Lit Manteau de, et des jupons, à la fois marquée par de la saleté et les taches d’autres. En vertu de la saleté et la crasse, je pourrais dire que sa peau était d’un blanc laiteux, qui a immédiatement déclarer à partir de notre patrie européenne. Ses cheveux étaient en désordre, et elle n’avait aucune couverture pour elle. Il coulait noir dans son dos, et certains accroché au visage. Elle gardait la tête baissée et les yeux baissés, mais un bref aperçu je pouvais voir des lignes qui ont fait preuve faible de la douleur, des ruisseaux de larmes avaient coulé sur ses joues, ces derniers jours. Ses mains étaient attachées en face d’elle et autour de son cou a été placée une corde filetée, qui conduit directement aux mains de l’Savauge’s. Il est clair qu’elle était en captivité à cet homme, mais j’étais curieux et choqué par une telle situation. Comme il s’est arrêté avec le reste de sa bande, je regardais en état de choc, comme il lui prit la main et l’a poussée jusqu’aux genoux à côté de lui.

Notre commandant se dirigea vers eux, suivi de 2 autres Marines, leurs fusils sur leurs épaules.
“Hey”, at-il dit, que je pris pour un salut.

“Hey t-shin-ge”, l’indigène de la captive a dit. Sa voix était profonde, qui semblait correspondre à sa taille impressionnante. Il portait des plumes qui ornent sa tête, avec des leggings noir et parements d’argent autour de son biceps. Boucles d’oreilles en argent pendaient à ses oreilles et une bague de ses narines et qui brillait au soleil comme il se trouvait. Il portait des conceptions simples sur son visage, mais sur la base des manières de ceux qui l’entouraient, il a certainement été le leader de ce groupe.

Mon assistant est venu me le long de côté comme je l’ai observé la scène devant moi, et a commenté sur la présence de cette femme. Le Deleware tendent vers piller les fermes et les cabanes de ce qu’ils croient être leurs terres, et après avoir tué les hommes, ils prendront les femmes et les enfants en captivité. Il a également déclaré qu’elle avait l’air d’être un poisson frais, comme elle avait encore les vêtements de sa culture. Comme le temps passe, me dit-il, ils deviendront assimilées dans la tribu et bientôt oublier leurs maisons, leurs familles, et de la vie avant de la tribu. En vérité, nous ne pouvons pas rester ce type d’activité, je me suis dit. J’ai entendu parler d’histoires de soldats d’autres Sauvages brûler leurs ennemis, mais même cela, je crois que je pourrais gérer mieux que la captivité d’une femme sans défense.

J’ai continué à regarder que le sauvage a des tas de fourrures de leurs canots de la rivière aux échanges avec notre commandant. Soldats ont apporté des outils, des fusils, des couvertures et des boissons. J’ai regardé avec intérêt que chaque partie a pris un coup d’oeil à l’autre de marchandises, mais le chef de file, debout, observe, de manière similaire à notre commandant. Avec un clin d’œil et un murmure d’un de ses guerriers, le chef de file Savage crié ce qui semblait être une commande, et ses hommes se sont rassemblés place les biens et les fourrures a chuté de nombreux.

Mon regard errait un instant à ces faits et gestes, et puis de nouveau à la femme en captivité. Sa tête est restée basse, mais pour un bref instant, ses yeux verrouillés sur la mienne. Ses yeux étaient acte de procédure, si elles étaient effrayées jusqu’à ce qu’ils soient tira loin comme le leader s’éloigna et a tiré sur la corde autour du cou de son pull à se joindre à eux. Elle a lutté à ses pieds, puis a été conduit hors de la canots, qui étaient en charge vers le bas.

Comment est-il que nous pouvons simplement rester les bras croisés à ce comportement? Si un homme à Paris ont été à juste prendre une femme hors de cette manière, ils répondent à un châtiment le plus approprié. Je ne pouvais pas imaginer ce que mon Hélène ferait, si elle devait se trouver dans une telle position. Peut-être dans ces dames commun, il est quelque chose qu’ils sont plus habitués, mais une dame raffinée telles que celles de Paris périrait probablement dans ces moments-là.

Et maintenant, mon esprit vagabonde vers elle et les enfants, et je me retrouve mort dans l’âme de désir pour son toucher doux, sa belle voix, et ses bons yeux. Je devrais lui écrire de ma sécurité et aimables paroles de mon désir pour elle et notre maison.

Today I witnessed one of the most troubling, and yet most fascinating sights that I have yet seen in my tenure as surgeon with the Company. It has caused me to take great pause, and to retire myself to my quarters alone this evening, instead of enjoying the company of the rest of the men, as I commit the tale to my journal and relive the moment to myself.

I was cleansing my instruments when a commotion was stirred at the gate of the fort. Curious as I was, I put down the knife, and joined the others to observe the goings on there. A group of our allies, the Deleware as they are called, had come down the river in their canoes. It was a group of about 15, mostly men. I had seen men in similar dress and manners in our travels south from Quebec, and had seen them fight with a ferocity unknown to my countrymen in many ways. It seems that this war means a great deal more to the savages, as does all war. The men tell tales of seeing charred remains, and scalped bodies along trails. But what I saw next put me ill at ease with the thought of these allies.

Led behind one of the lead warriors of the troupe was a young woman, not much older than I would think 20, dressed in a simple Manteau de Lit, and petticoats, both marred with dirt and other stains. Under the dirt and grime I could tell that her skin was a milky white, which would immediately declare her as from our European homeland. Her hair was unkempt, and she had no covering for it. It flowed dark down her back, and some hung in her face. She kept her head down and her eyes lowered, but in a brief glimpse I could see faint lines that made evidence of grief- streams of tears had flowed down her cheeks in recent days. Her hands were bound in front of her and around her neck was placed a threaded rope, which led directly to the Savauge’s hands. Clearly she was a captive to that man, but I was curious and shocked at such a situation. As he stopped with the rest of his band, I watched in shock as he took his hand and pushed her down to her knees next to him.

Our Commander walked up to them, followed by 2 other Marines, their rifles on their shoulders.
“Hey”, he said, which I took for a greeting.

“Hey t-shin-ge,” the Native with the Captive said. His voice was deep, which seemed to match his impressive stature. He wore feathers adorning his head, with dark leggings and silver cuffs around his biceps. Earrings of silver dangled from his ears and a ring from his nostrils as well, which glinted in the sunlight as he stood. He wore simple designs on his face, but based on the mannerisms of those around him, he was definitely the leader of this group.

My assistant came up along side me as I observed the scene before me, and commented on the presence of this woman. The Deleware tend towards raiding the farms and cabins in what they believe is their land, and after killing the men, they will take the women and children captive. He also stated that she looked to be a fresh catch, as she still had the clothing of her culture. As time goes on, he told me, they will become assimilated into the tribe and soon forget about their homes, families, and life before the tribe. Truly we cannot stand by this kind of activity, I thought to myself. I have heard of tales from other soldiers of Savages burning their enemies, but even that, I believe I could handle better than the captivity of a helpless woman.

I continued to watch as the Savage brought piles of furs from their Canoes by the river to trade with our Commander. Soldiers brought tools, rifles, blankets, and drink. I watched with interest as each party took a look at the other’s goods, however the leader stood and observed, in similar fashion to our Commander. With a nod and a murmur from one of his warriors, the Savage leader shouted what seemed to be a command, and his men gathered up the goods and dropped many furs.

My eyes wandered for a moment to these goings on, and then back to the Captive woman. Her head remained lowered, but for a brief moment, her eyes locked upon mine. Her eyes were pleading, so frightened they were until they were tugged away as the leader moved off and pulled on the rope around her neck to pull her up to join them. She struggled to her feet, then was led off to the canoes, which were being laden down.

How is it that we can just sit idly by to this behavior? If a man in Paris were to just take a wife off in that manner, they would meet a most fitting punishment. I could not imagine what my Helene would do, if she were to find herself in such a position. Perhaps in these common ladies it is something they are more accustomed to, but a refined lady such as those in Paris would most likely perish in such moments.

And now my minds eye wanders to her and the children, and I find myself heartsick with longing for her soft touch, her lovely voice, and her kind eyes. I should write her of my safety and kind words of my desire for her and our home.


Posted By on April 10, 2010

It was almost in a night, that the trees went from small buds to full leaves, the flowers went from small buds to brightly colored blooms, and the cold winter was rushed away by the warm spring sun.  The roads are open again and we are seeing movement- troops have started to arrive and fill the bunks in the main garrison buildings, and many of my previously ill patients have also regained their strength and are starting maneuvers with the men.  Hunting has restarted, and we have had fresh meat for several nights, which was a grand treat for us all after the cold, hard winter.

With the return of the troops, along came a new shipment of supplies from FrederickTowne, along with more supplies from my sister, and a beautiful new journal for keeping my notes and records in.  It is blue with calfskin, produced by the great bookbinder Mr. McClintock.  Charlotte sent it to me for my upcoming Birthday, and I am grateful for the new parchment to write upon.  With the new troops, and the new nurse, I should be more attentive to my supplies and the goings on around the hospital.

The widow Bain is working out well as the hospital nurse, and has even taken on some matronly duties.  She has currently gone to a nearby farm to help with the birth of a child.  I admire those women who have taken to those duties here in the wilderness.  While having brief training in womanly ways at the University, I feel fortunate as to never have had to be in attendance for the birth of a child.  I daresay that as much as I’ve done surgeries and seen men die under my ministrations and on the battlefield, I would imagine that the birth of a child would be much more frightening and daunting to my personal sentiments.

The evening meal is being served, and as my nurse is away I should deliver it to my patients before dining with the Captain myself this evening.

Post Rider and Supplies

Posted By on February 25, 2010

The post rider arrived today with some basic supplies to keep us through the rest of this winter.  Just these last few days has it been warm enough for the snow to abate on the roads, allowing for comfortable passage of the wagon and the horses.  In his supplies were additional bandages and some medicines I had requested this spring previous, but I am glad for them.  In addition to that, the post rider suprised me with 2 correspondences, one from my sister speaking about the state of my shop, and one from the Doctor from the Southern territories, with whom I worked with at the general hospital previous to my station here.  His letter asked upon the state of my sister, as well as offered his gratitude for the gifts I had my sister send from our last shipment from London.  Additionally, he too had recently received a collection of goods from a London supplier, and gifted me with 2 “French Raincoats” as they are called. These devices are made by a Mrs. Phillips in London, and seem to be all the rage there.  I had offered him one previously that had been given to me some many months ago, but could never see to use it because of its horribly offensive smell.  I have placed these in my case of medicines, for fear that should the common soldiers find that I have such a preventative device, they all will want a chance with it, and all the ladies in camp with them.  I have treated more cases of the pox recently than I feel is common, to the effect that the Captain is ordering inspection of the camp followers, and my own Nurse, to determine the culprit.  I fear no good shall come of it for the woman spreading the disease, especially as the cold winds are blowing and there is talk of a great snow about to come.  To lose the safety of the fort will not be to her liking, I am most certain.

The note from Doctor Roberts is as follows:

My dear Doctor Clift,

Enclosed I trust you will find the return of the favour you paid me when we were encamp’d at Fort Niagara July last.  I found myself wanting during my amourous pursuits, and you came to my aid with on of Mrs. Phillip’s fine products.  I now repay that kindness with interest in the form of Two French Raincoats.

If you should require more, I have a reliable source that comes directly from the supply ship from London every three months, and it would be my pleasure to supply you.

Please give my respects to your sister and many thanks for the gifts you sent in your last package, and know Sir that I am,

Yr. Humble & obt Svt,

Dr. A Roberts”

I should write a return note to my sister and to Doctor Roberts in time to thank him for his generous gift, and to allow my sister to consider selling his items of Self-Preservation.  For now, however, the candle flickers as the wind draws under the door, and i must check the patients once again before I retire for the evening.