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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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Queen Victoria and Sir James Simpson

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

As told in the delightful movie “Mrs. Brown”, Queen Victoria had a great love for the Scottish Balmoral Castle.  The Queen actually preferred Scotland to England.  As a result, everything Scottish suddenly became fashionable.  Tartans, reels, bagpipes and sporrans were considered cultured and refined where before they had been hidden away when friends from the South arrived.

Queen Victoria also had a preference for Scottish doctors, in particular Sir James Simpson of Edinburgh.  Her appointment of James Simpson as one of her Majesty’s Physicians was symptomatic of Victoria’s innovative leadership style.  Despite the prejudice many have today to all things ‘Victorian’, Queen Victoria helped open the doors for her people to modern science and medicine.  Even as a child, she led the way as the first member of the Royal Family to be vaccinated for smallpox.  Later as Victoria was to give birth to her fifth child, she turned to Sir James Simpson, the father of modern anesthetics, for help.

Until Queen Victoria’s bold move, there was a great controversy about the morality of whether women should use anesthetics in childbirth.  Her leadership broke people free from superstition and fear.  Her use of an anaesthetic was so controversial that the official Royal Press ‘The Lancet’ actually denied that she had accepted chloroform, but the lay press rushed to spread the news.

Dr. Petrie in Liverpool considered anesthesia a breach of medical ethics.  It was the act of a coward, he wrote, to avoid pain, and if a woman insisted on the use of chloroform to alleviate her labour pains, she must be told that she was in no fit state to make decisions.  ‘Are we going to allow the patient to tell us what to do?’ he enquired indignantly.

Sir James Simpson used careful statistics to overcome enormous prejudice among these medical colleagues.  Many of Simpson’s fellow doctors feared that chloroform would increase the already high death rate following operation, increase the incidence of bleeding, paralysis, & pneumonia, and bring on ‘mania’ in the mother.

There were also clergymen who argued that anesthetics was somehow against the Bible.  Simpson humorously responded that on the occasion of the first recorded operation –the removal of a rib – the Lord had caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, proof of his approval of anesthesia!  In defending anesthesia against clerical criticism, Simpson noted that some churchmen also first spoke against optical glasses, spectacles and the telescope as ‘offsprings of man’s wicked mind’, because they changed the natural appearance of things and presented them in an untrue light.  Simpson was so convinced of the rightness of anesthetics that he even called his study ‘St. Anesthesia’.

In the midst of this raging battle with the medical and ecclesiastical establishments, along came Queen Victoria who settled the controversy in one decisive act.  Throughout the British Empire, her loyal subjects agreed that the sensible Queen would have never taken chloroform from Dr. Simpson if it was really dangerous or against the will of the Lord.  The gift of anesthetic was Queen Victoria’s  present to millions of grateful mothers around the world.

The mothers of the mid-nineteenth century were looking for a doctor who would consider them seriously as people, and not as baggage.  James Simpson was a man of great compassion who could not bear to see women in pain.  As a young intern, Simpson ran out in horror during a cancer operation and almost switched to studying law.  ‘Can nothing be done’; he pleaded, ‘to make operations less painful?’  James Simpson was a man who respected women of all classes and considered it their due to receive the best medical attention that there was to offer.  Simpson didn’t just treat the Queen as an individual; he treated all women as ‘queens’.  Simpson, as a man of deep faith, knew that in Christ there was neither slave nor free, male nor female, for all are one and equally valued in the Lord (Galatians 3:28).

In 1870 a contemporary of Simpson wrote, “Simpson adopted obstetrics when it was the lowest and most ignoble of our medical arts: he has left it a science numbering amongst its professors many of the most distinguished of our modern physicians.’  The average physician of the early Victorian age was armed with a jar of sticky black leeches and an obsession for putting them to work.  With the discovery of chloroform, Simpson held that ‘a new light had burst upon Surgery, and a large boon conferred on mankind.’

Simpson was a natural inventor who was always eager to experiment in new directions –the fight against puerperal fever, the invention of new types of forceps, the combating of cholera, and the invention of the vacuum suction extractor to help with childbirth problems.  And he invented the uterine sound instrument by accident by dropping a straight tool on the ground and bending it!

For Simpson, faith was as natural as breathing.  Family prayers were at 8:15am in the dining room.  Everyone had their own Bible in their hand, and the family sat around the mahogany table.  Simpson always read the Lesson, but enjoyed the children leading the prayers. After the tragic death of his fifteen-year old son Jamie, Simpson had a profound encounter with Jesus Christ.  ‘I am the oldest sinner and the youngest believer in this room’ he said to a gathering of enthusiastic medical missionary students.  Despite his fame for discovering chloroform, Simpson said to all: “My greatest discovery is Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour”.

For his service to Queen Victoria, Simpson became the first Scottish doctor to knighted as a baronet. In his memoirs Lord Playfair, Professor of Chemistry, called Simpson ‘…the greatest physician of his time’.  A doctor in the Indian Army said in the Bombay Courier of 22 January 1848 that “the most outstanding character that he had come across in his tour of the medical centres of Europe was ‘little Simpson of Edinburgh’ who had the four ideals for the perfect physician:  the brain of an Apollo, the eye of an eagle, the heart of a lion, and the hand of a lady –nothing baffles his intellect, nothing escapes his penetrating glance…”  Despite all the rejection Simpson experienced, he was eventually elected President of the Edinburgh Royal College of Physicians,  as a Foreign Associate of the Academy of Medicine of Paris, and given the Swedish Royal Order of St. Olaf.

The Scottish people loved him deeply.  When Simpson was dying in extreme pain, he commented: ‘When I think, it is of the words ‘Jesus only’ and really that is all that is needed, is it not?’  To honour this Christ-like man, 80,000 Scots watched his funeral procession in Edinburgh.

My prayer  is that each of us may treat the mothers in our lives, as Sir James Simpson treated all women, with respect and dignity.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Dr Louis Pasteur: Sacrificial Servant of All

By the Rev. Dr. Ed HirdDr Louis Pasteur

My family and I watched an Academy Award-winning movie which reminded me that every one of us owes an enormous debt to Dr. Louis Pasteur.

Just think of pasteurized milk and honey, making food safe for our families to eat and drink, thanks to Louis Pasteur.

Think of our children whose lives are safe from rabies transmitted by ‘mad dogs’, thanks to Louis Pasteur.  Think of our wives and mothers who need not fear death from infection during childbirth, thanks to Louis Pasteur.  Think of the sheep, cattle and chickens that we can safely rely on for our food supply, thanks to Louis Pasteur.  No wonder that Pasteur’s name is better known than any other scientist who has ever lived.

Louis Pasteur is a living reminder that anyone who wants to make a difference in life is bound to face bigotry and opposition.  The most narrow-minded usually turn out to be those who pretend to be the most open-minded and inclusive.  Pasteur was maligned as a murderer and a menace to science.  He was even challenged to a duel by an angry physician.

Dr Louis Pasteur1His ‘criminal’ behaviour was none other than publishing a pamphlet urging doctors to wash their hands before surgery and to sterilize their instruments.  Thirty percent of pregnant women in Paris were needlessly dying from infection during childbirth.  One grief-struck husband, whose wife had just died from childbirth fever, went on a rampage and shot his doctor dead.  Medical doctors rallied against Dr. Pasteur, blaming his pamphlet for the murder and claiming that Pasteur was making the practice of medicine unsafe for physicians and surgeons.  “Who did Pasteur think that he was?” They said. “He isn’t even a medical doctor…just a lowly chemist”.

The Emperor’s wife invited Pasteur to the French Court to explain his radical ideas.  Pasteur had the nerve to tell the Emperor that the hospitals of Paris were death houses, and that there was hardly a doctor who didn’t carry death on his hands.  After accurately predicting the death of the Emperor’s sister-in-law from childbirth infection, Pasteur was condemned as a fraud and banned by the Emperor from ever speaking out publicly again about medicine.

Having been banished into obscurity in the Dr Louis Pasteur2countryside of Arbois, Pasteur spent the next decade researching the causes of anthrax, the black plague ravaging the sheep across France.  Miraculously Pasteur invented an anthrax vaccine, which he gave freely to all farmers’ sheep in Arbois.

When the French government needed more sheep to pay the 5 million francs War indemnity to Germany, they came to Arbois to find out why Pasteur’s sheep were healthy.  Telling them of his vaccine, Pasteur was again mocked as a fool and charlatan by the Academy of Medicine.  Only after a rigorous test where infected Anthrax Blood was injected in 50 sheep, was Pasteur finally vindicated.  To everyone’s amazement, the only sheep that survived were the 25 sheep which Pasteur had injected with his vaccine.

Was Pasteur then accepted by the medical establishment?  Not on your life!  When Pasteur had the nerve to look for a rabies cure, again he was vilified and humiliated without mercy.  Pasteur was such a servant of all humanity that he even risked facing prison or guillotine to save the life of a rabies-infected ten-year old boy, Joseph Meister.  Joseph Meister was later made the caretaker of Pasteur’s tomb at the world-famous Pasteur Institute in Paris.  When the Nazis tried to force him to open Pasteur’s tomb in 1940, Joseph tragically committed suicide rather than defile the grave of his hero.

Dr Louis Pasteur3The ‘great physician’ Jesus once said that if anyone wants to be first, he must become the very last, and the servant of all.  Louis Pasteur was indeed the servant of all, who sacrificed his time, energy, and health so that others might live.  Pasteur selflessly taught that the benefits of science are not for the scientist, but for all of humanity.

Though he has saved millions of lives through his discoveries, Pasteur was unable to save the three out of his four daughters who died from typhoid fever.  In his unceasing striving to cure rabies, he suffered a crippling stroke at age 46.  Yet even that setback did not stop him from successfully finding a rabies cure.

Near the end of his life, Pasteur was finally honoured by the French Academy of Medicine.  He graciously said to them: ‘Doctors and scientists of the future, do not Dr Louis Pasteur4let yourselves be tainted by a barren skepticism nor discouraged by sadness of certain hours that creep over every nation.  Do not become angry at your opponents for no scientific theory has ever been accepted without opposition.’

In so many ways, Pasteur embodied the true meaning of Christ-likeness.  My prayer for those reading this article is that we may never let opposition embitter us as we seek to be the servants of all.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca