Alias Smith and Jones Fun and Fanfiction
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 Doctors and Medicine in the West

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Stepha3nie

Stepha3nie

Posts : 5044
Join date : 2014-07-12
Age : 50
Location : Scotland

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PostSubject: Doctors and Medicine in the West   Doctors and Medicine in the West EmptySun Nov 09, 2014 7:55 am

Since our boys tend to be a bit careless with their health in many fan fiction stories, Kid especially seems to attract a lot of bullets followed  inevitably by fever, I thought it might be interesting to find out what the state of medicine was like at the time, what kinds of treatments were they likely to receive, how qualified the doctors would be,...

I'd be grateful if others would add their own research, links,... to this thread - I am sure I am not the first one with the idea.

I found this link, which I found very interesting.

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~poindexterfamily/ChristinesPages/Doctors.html

It gives a description about state of the art of medicine from the 18th century, important discoveries in the field of medicine, training of doctors, different schools of thought (and treatments), income for doctors, commonly treated illnesses/cases, trust (or lack of) in doctors, work hours, fees for different services (removal of bullet $1-2, surgical operation $5-25, delivery of baby $25-50, mileage and prescriptions fees,etc.)...

I found it fascinating how little "book learning" was trusted, was surprised that even as late as 1869 Harvard Medical School refused written tests for their students (in addition to oral ones) because they feared many of the students could not write well enough. Training to become a doctor could consist of simply apprenticing with a practicing doctor for 2 years (doing all the chores, trying to learn from him) plus a few months medical school.
It appears that doctors in the West knew little of treating illnesses, but were excellent surgeons (probably lots of practice with victims from gunmen,...).
It was also interesting to see that the first woman to gain a medical diploma did so in 1849 (Elizabeth Blackwell), after traditional training and against a lot of opposition. Other schools of thought (e.g. homeopathy) had taken female students since the 1830s.

_________________
"I can resist everything - except temptation"  Oscar Wilde
For me temptation is Hannibal Heyes, especially in chaps!
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Nancy Whiskey

Nancy Whiskey

Posts : 2704
Join date : 2013-10-14
Location : The Rusty Bucket Saloon

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PostSubject: Re: Doctors and Medicine in the West   Doctors and Medicine in the West EmptySun Nov 09, 2014 10:11 am

Thanks S3.  It does not surprise me that 'book learning' was treated with suspicion, and they were willing to trust a boozed up ancient Doctor rather than a progressive well educated one.

Even in the UK I know of people who even during 2nd world war times and after who would hang some full grain bread in the rafters of their house/barn until it was incredibly fuzzy and blue with mould.  They would then use this on cuts and wounds.

My first boyfriends Father was a trainee doctor during this period, and he use to gripe to his senior in his frustration. 

The older Doctor told him not to so easily deride this and other practices.  He was of the opinion that these home cures had probably cured more than they damaged.  He stated that this practice had gone on for centuries, and in this case he told my boyfriends Father "it is the precursor to penicillin, all we have done it hone it."

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Tomorrow  I will no longer be reckless or feckless.  I will do everything with both reck and feck!
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RosieAnnieUSA

RosieAnnieUSA

Posts : 425
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 100
Location : Chicago, Illinois, USA

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PostSubject: Re: Doctors and Medicine in the West   Doctors and Medicine in the West EmptySun Nov 09, 2014 7:13 pm

Wow. It amazes me that anybody survived a bullet wound. I guess all us fanfic writers will continue to stretch the historical truth a bit, though. If we didn't, we'd have to kill off one of our heroes, and it's much more fun to keep them alive and play with them.
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http://www.lunartidemassageandangeltherapy.com
riders57

riders57

Posts : 554
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 62

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PostSubject: Re: Doctors and Medicine in the West   Doctors and Medicine in the West EmptyMon Nov 10, 2014 7:48 am

Actually NW -- the blue moldy bread isn't that far off -- penicillin.
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Nancy Whiskey

Nancy Whiskey

Posts : 2704
Join date : 2013-10-14
Location : The Rusty Bucket Saloon

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PostSubject: Re: Doctors and Medicine in the West   Doctors and Medicine in the West EmptyMon Nov 10, 2014 9:41 am

I know, that is the point.  Also dressing wounds in spiders webs was an old healing solution, and there is a modern equivalent of that too.

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Tomorrow  I will no longer be reckless or feckless.  I will do everything with both reck and feck!
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Stepha3nie

Stepha3nie

Posts : 5044
Join date : 2014-07-12
Age : 50
Location : Scotland

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PostSubject: Re: Doctors and Medicine in the West   Doctors and Medicine in the West EmptyMon Nov 10, 2014 12:16 pm

I got the impression that some old "home remedies" as well as the use of certain plants with beneficial propensities was more effective than some of the beliefs still held by professional doctors, who still believed in bleeding or purging as heal-all remedies.
Clever settlers did better to learn herb- and plant lore from Native Americans than to seek help from a lot of white "medicine men" in frontier areas.

_________________
"I can resist everything - except temptation"  Oscar Wilde
For me temptation is Hannibal Heyes, especially in chaps!
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Stepha3nie

Stepha3nie

Posts : 5044
Join date : 2014-07-12
Age : 50
Location : Scotland

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PostSubject: Re: Doctors and Medicine in the West   Doctors and Medicine in the West EmptyMon Sep 12, 2016 2:40 pm

Since we had two chats recently about medicines and medical knowledge, here are a few more links.

From legends of america - some may be true, some may be rumour. Some of the cures and remedies could have some benefit, but a lot sound to me like superstition at best and bad jokes at worst. 
http://www.legendsofamerica.com/we-oldremedies.html
It's a good thing for Specsavers that nobody seems to know that you can restore your eyesight by simply piercing your ears...

Here's a link containing some more reliable information, but unfortunately not very detailed:
http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/look-back-old-time-medicines

A link I found quite interesting. It only lists 10 medicines, but gives us more information about them, up to how much money unscrupulous people made with them before they were finally banned.
http://www.alternet.org/drugs/10-old-timey-medicines-got-people-high

Here is a link to a researched article on use of opiates, cocaine and marihuana/hasheesh in pre-20th century America. And it doesn't stop there, but continues into the the era of first anti-drug legislation, prohibitions, tighter drug laws, the 1960s, the 1970s including drug use during the Vietnam War, Federal legislation.
http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/history/casey1.htm

A short bit of information about what training was available to become a doctor in the West.
http://www.hhhistory.com/2013/10/becoming-doctor-in-old-west-and-giveaway.html
They don't mention that apprenticeship with an apothecary was also a valid route and that legally the apprenticeship did not have to be more than 2 years - no matter what you did for your master...

Here's a nice short overview over frontier doctors and some of the difficulties of their jobs
http://tripsintohistory.com/2013/02/13/american-frontier-the-doctors/


And of course, I have to include a link for the good old institution of the medicine show. In the Old West, our boys had better chances to run into one of them than a truly qualified doctor.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicine_show
I didn't know that they continued well into the 20th century.


Please feel free to add more links for medicines, doctors, treatment of illness or wounds in the Old West.

_________________
"I can resist everything - except temptation"  Oscar Wilde
For me temptation is Hannibal Heyes, especially in chaps!
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AmnestyOrBust

AmnestyOrBust

Posts : 87
Join date : 2016-08-06

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PostSubject: Re: Doctors and Medicine in the West   Doctors and Medicine in the West EmptyMon Sep 12, 2016 4:44 pm

Wish there wish there was a like button for people's posts.  You guys are awesome putting so much out here for others to use for fan fiction and/or just learn from.

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Kid Curry:
There's one thing we gotta get, Heyes.
Hannibal Heyes:
What's that?
Kid Curry:
Outta this business!
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Stepha3nie

Stepha3nie

Posts : 5044
Join date : 2014-07-12
Age : 50
Location : Scotland

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PostSubject: Re: Doctors and Medicine in the West   Doctors and Medicine in the West EmptyTue Sep 13, 2016 5:50 am

Embarassed

I just enjoy a bit of research every now and then.
There are many stories out there where our boys (well, at least one of them) get shot or otherwise wounded. I was somewhat surprised at how many authors then have someone perform surgery under difficult circumstances while taking care to do everything as hygienic as possible.
It made me wonder what conditions would really have been like.

Also, watching Westerns, you get fed all the Hollywood myths about people collapsing from gunshot wounds, being out of action/losing consciousness after getting shot.
I have found reports from gunshot victims who said they didn't realise they were shot and simply carried on. There are reports about outlaws who survived (and were still conscious) after having received many bullet wounds (e.g. the Younger brothers after the Northville disaster).

Since I had a little medical training and work in a related field, I was just interested in finding out more about what it would really have been like for our boys.

If you find anything interesting, feel free to post about it here. This forum only works if people talk to each other. 
Very Happy

_________________
"I can resist everything - except temptation"  Oscar Wilde
For me temptation is Hannibal Heyes, especially in chaps!
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AmnestyOrBust

AmnestyOrBust

Posts : 87
Join date : 2016-08-06

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PostSubject: Re: Doctors and Medicine in the West   Doctors and Medicine in the West EmptyTue Sep 13, 2016 5:42 pm

What I'm curious about is dentistry in that timeframe.  We see the boys have good hygiene using toothbrush.  Was curious when tooth brushing came about and how the guys got introduced to that kind of good hygiene.  Despite being on the trail/run a lot they do like to remain well groomed.   And they certainly also like taking baths.

_________________
Kid Curry:
There's one thing we gotta get, Heyes.
Hannibal Heyes:
What's that?
Kid Curry:
Outta this business!
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