Episode 144: The Fight Over Anesthesia

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Dave: He went to Boston to show doctors at Mass General Hospital what he learned.
Gareth: The Boston Teeth Party.
Dave: Yeah…what?
Gareth: Keep going.

Horace Wells’ biography at general-anaethesia.com

The gas used in these lectures by Dr. Colton was contained in a rubber bag, and was administered through a horrible wooden faucet, similar to the contraptions used in country cider barrels.

Wait, what? That’s not necessary.

It was given in quantities only sufficient to exhilarate or stimulate the subjects, and reacted upon them in divers and sundry ways. Some danced, some sang, others made impassioned orations, or indulged in serious arguments with imaginary opponents, while in many instances the freaks of the subjects were amazing…

Tercentenary Commission of the State of Connecticut.

from The Discoverer of Anaesthesia: Dr. Horace Wells of Hartford * Tercentenary Commission. Yale University Press, 1933

So, much like Twitter…?

Gardner Quincy Colton at general-anaethesia.com:

“Professor” Colton was a flamboyant showman and lecturer on natural philosophy, chemistry and the telegraph. He enjoyed the rudiments of a formal medical education, but never graduated.

There’s a lot going on in those two sentences. Don’t know about you, but I’m not inclined to open my mouth for the good Professor.

Something in the Ether: A Bicentennial History of Massachusetts General Hospital, 1811-2011 * Webster Bull

example of 19th century penmanship:

19th century penmanship

I found an incredible website, part of pitt.edu: 19th Century Schoolbooks Collection. New rabbit hole for Carla! Whee!

Within the collection:

Penmanship explained, or, The principles of writing reduced to an exact science, Potter, S. A., Philadelphia: Cowperthwait & Co, 1868, 1866

An entire chapter on properly holding the pen. YASS.

and, from our dear Patton: The Magic of Cursive (from Finest Hour)


Dave: Horace turned to other pursuits.
Gareth: Oh, this is always a good time. What did he do, wrestle alligators?

No, even better. He sold canaries.

That is so punk rock. Imagine the polite society party discussions.

bird scroll
“And what do you do, good sir?”
“I teach penmanship, I have experimented with gasses to assist painless dentistry, and I am enthused to announce that I am a proud salesman of the buttery yellow bosom companions known as canaries.”
extended awkward silence
“Have you ever had the pleasure of meeting a canary, my dear lady?”

bird scroll

Ether Day: The Strange Tale of America’s Greatest Medical Discovery and The Haunted Men Who Made It * Julie M. Fenster

grist mill:

Although the terms “gristmill” or “corn mill” can refer to any mill that grinds grain, the terms were used historically for a local mill where farmers brought their own grain and received back ground meal or flour, minus a percentage called the “miller’s toll.”[7] Early mills were almost always built and supported by farming communities and the miller received the “miller’s toll” in lieu of wages.

grist mill
19th century grist mill stone

“Grist for the mill” is a term we used as counselors, meaning anything that happens can be used for the client’s benefit in therapy. So, in general….anything that happens to you can actually be to your benefit and growth, depending on how you approach it.

Or not.

You do you.

Look up, it’s the Ether Dome! It’s like the Thunderdome, but with more sleepy-sleep night-night, and less Tina Turner.

I Awaken to Glory: Essays Celebrating the Sesquicentennial of the Discovery of Anesthesia * Horace Wells December 11, 1844-December 11, 1994 * ed. Richard J. Wolfe and Leonard F. Menczer

The Use of Ether as an Anesthetic at the Battle of the Wilderness in the Civil War * William T. G. Morton — which will be henceforth referred to as the LOOKEE WHAT I DONE DID book

Adding to the everything is connected pile

because it is Momma Carla knows it is shhhhh Momma knows

the guys had to mention accordions. Therefore, goodness I leave with you: Weird Al, the king of accordions, and dentistry: “Toothless People”

Episode 13
Now smile for me!


Bands from this episode (so many bands):

  • Haunted Teeth
  • GasCon
  • Nitrous Parties
  • Tooth Boom
  • Ether Frolics
  • The Boston Teeth Party (one major hit: “Bite Me (Bitch)”)
  • Smut Mill and the Cockles
  • Dear Parents
  • Screaming Gas
  • Acid Trip Around the Block
  • Bad Girls of Broadway

Cultural references from this episode:

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