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Re: OT: Corpses, etc. (was: Re: Gender in conlangs (was: Re: Umlauts (was Re: Elves and Ill Bethisad)))

From:Isidora Zamora <isidora@...>
Date:Thursday, November 6, 2003, 20:44
> > Now, the Trehelish have a very good > > understanding of herbal medicine and > > are always improving it. > >Criminal guinea pigs?
I hadn't thought about that till now. I expect that the herbal medicine has been improved largely by centuries of of practice on normal patients; you can't count on a criminal ginea pig to get sick in the right way at the right time, although I suppose that you could try out different drugs to see what sort of effects they had on a healthy body. Now that I really think about what I know Trehelish people are like, I suspect that they would not have the same scruples that we would about experimenting extensively on condemned men, especially if they see it as voluntary on the part of th subject. He agrees to be experimented on; you agree to cremate his body. He also avoids a public hanging. They would probably not suffer from a lack of "volunteers." I have known for a long time that there is an important medical school (the only one in the country, I think) on the outskirts of Sovchilen, the capital city. As you know from my other post, Sovchilen has a high crime rate, mainly theft, but also murder. Thieves are whipped the first three times they are caught, and the fourth time, they are hanged. In Sovchilen, with the number of thieves they have, there would be a large pool of potential "volunteers" for medical experimentation. Considering that this is a culture that still practices human sacrifice (albeit not nearly as openly as it once did), I don't see that there would be very many ethical concerns about (ab)using condemned men in this way. (This just gets ickier and icker, doesn't it? Thanks, Padraic :) ) One thing that the "criminal gunea pigs" (as you put it) would be useful for is practicing surgery. For instance, Trehelish physicians are familiar with the phenomenon of appendicitis, and, by means of autopsies (it is invariably fatal), they have isolated the cause of the condition. They also understand that the inflamed appendix needs to be removed before it bursts in order to save the patient's life. However, that is easier said than done. We're talking about opening up someone's abdomen, after all. If they had someone to practice on... As far as practicing surgery, I am wondering what they use as a light source. Good illumination is a must. I suppose that they must use an overhead (oil) lamp fitted into some sort of reflector to get the light where they need it. Speaking of guinea pigs, the Cwendaso have something very like them. It is called a khúno. They are rather larger than your standard pet guinea pig, since they were originally domesticated for meat and have been selectively bred. They also have angora fur. The Tovláugad spin khúno fur together with fine lambswool and weave it into shawls and scarves (mufflers.) Since the Tovláugad learned to spin, the khúno has been used more for fur than for food, but it is still eaten.
> > They even have a > > couple of antibiotics derived from herbs. > >Now those are some advances that Men haven't made >quite yet. At least not "officially". I'm sure >there are some healers or wise women out there >who know of the healing properties of certain >molds.
I haven't really decided whether the Trehelish have discovered penicillin or not. What they have discovered is that the root of a certain plant (which doesn't exist in this world) is a powerful anti-infective when applied to wounds and will cure some fevers (but not others) when consumed. It also tends to upset bowel function when consumed. They understand a good bit about infection, but nothing at all about bacteria or viri. They don't have the lenses necessary to see bacteria. I shouldn't say that they understand *nothing* about bacteria and viri, because they understand very well that consuming anti-infective drugs will cure "wound fever" (I think we call it blood poisoning), but that those same drugs will do nothing for "weak fever" (a viral disease which is endemic; well over half of the population will contract it sometime during their life. There is a very extended convalescant period following the acute phase of the disease, and people end up dying from it if they have no one to take care of them, because they are too fatigued to fix food for themselves and eat it.) Trehelish physicians also understand that once a person has had weak fever once, they will never get it again. So they understand the different sorts of behavior associated with bacterial and viral illnesses, but they do not understand the infective agents. The Trehelish really rely on "anti-infectives," as they term them, to save a lot of lives. Those drugs are not new discoveries for them, either. Trehelish medicine, by the way, is divided into three branches: the use of drugs (I need to come up with a better and more concise term for this), most of which are herbal, a great many of which actually work; bonesetting, which includes both repairing fractures, relocating dislocated joints, something similar to chiropractic care, and massage; and surgery, which is probably self-explanatory. Unfortunately, many of their surgeries are amputations. In some cases, they simply are not able to set a compound fracture; the patient would bleed to death if they attempted it, so they are forced to amputate. These three branches can overlap. For instance, surgery is always accompanied by anti-infective drugs and drugs to control pain. Bones may be set surgically; this is something that they have been getting better at lately. Now that I think about it, this would be an area where experiments could be set up on condemned men (and this is really a sickening thought) and they would have the chance to improve their technique. All in the pusuit of medical science and a better afterlife :) Isidora


Costentin Cornomorus <elemtilas@...>
Isidora Zamora <isidora@...>