Medieval Monday—Calling in Sick

This installment of Medieval Monday is brought to you by this cold I can’t seem to shake. It’s no fun in the 21st Century, but having any sort of ailment was REALLY no fun in the Middle Ages.
Let’s just get it out of the way that whatever’s ailing you is probably your fault because you angered God and your soul must be purified. But let’s assume you did some soul-searching, performed various acts of attrition and now just want to feel better, dammit. What do you do?
First we’ll need check your four humours: yellow bile, phlegm, black bile and blood. If any one of these are unbalanced, it could cause a change in health or personality. Your medical professional (and that using a very loose interpretation of the term) will test your urine and possibly your feces and blood as well. And don’t worry if you’re too sick to make it in—your doctor doesn’t actually need to see you.
So now we’ve discovered what ails you, but what now? Well, assuming the planetary alignments are favorable, you might be a candidate for a good bloodletting. Much like it sounds, you’ll be cut open with sharp instruments and your body will be drained of some of its blood. Or your doctor could whip you up a truly disgusting concoction (animal guts were a common ingredient) that is either taken orally or anally. Another option (and one you should start praying for) is as simple as being rubbed with fragrant oils. And if you’re really ailing, your only option might be surgery, which … I’m just going to let you use your imagination on how terrible medieval surgery must be.
Three cheers for DayQuil!
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3 Responses

  1. Su says:

    I have one that's pre-Medieval for you– in my rhetoric class we recently read Plato's Gorgias dialogue, in the course of which Socrates says that people choose the wrong thing for themselves a lot, such as going to the pastry chef instead of the doctor when they were ill. To the modern reader, of course, we know that the pastry chef who would give people honey & nuts was a much better choice than the awful stuff Greek BCE docs would do to their patients. Take that, Socrates! 😉

  2. Meredith says:

    Awesome. I think I'd choose a pastry chef over a doctor any day, myself. 🙂

  3. Marieke says:

    And me!

    Medieval medicine books are so much fun to read. Cause they're essentially magic books. And normal everyday recipes. All at the same time. Gotta love that practicality! 😀

    Ironically – my security word? Belicut.

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