As a historian of 19th century medicine, I spend a lot of time reading grody accounts of diseases and botched surgeries. Believe it or not, I love it. Here’s a tasty little bit of history for you–an account of a c-section performed in 1857 (which was back in the day when they thought inflammation and oozing pus was a good thing in wound healing and not a sign of infection….):
“The first three days a single thickness of domestic [linen] moistened in cold water is applied to the exposed abdomen over the wound to get the refrigerating action of evaporation. As soon as suppuration is established [a discharge of pus], this dressing is replaced by a warm poultice of bread and milk, which is continued until she is well. A weak dilution of chloride of soda was several times injected through the vagina into the womb, from which it issued at the abdominal wound, and did not return by the natural passages. These cleansings diminished very much the almost gangrenous foeter of the days of suppuration. The abdominal flatus was drawn off by an esophagus tube per rectum. A silver catheter remained constantly in the urethra by which the bladder was kept nearly always empty. The bladder was incised first accidentally, then purposely, during the operation, before the womb was reached. These slight opening closed kindly, by first intention.”
Bleh. The gangrenous foeter? How’s that for a flowery way to say nasty stench?