Tomb of Ancient Egyptian Physician Discovered

A team of Czech archaeologists excavating at the site of Abusir, 17 miles (27 kilometers) south of Cairo, has discovered the large limestone tomb of a top royal physician from about 2400 B.C.

The physician’s name was Shepseskaf-Ankh, which means “Shepseskaf is living"—a tribute to the last king of the fourth dynasty during the period known as the Old Kingdom.

As the Head of the Physicians of Upper and Lower Egypt, Shepseskaf-Ankh served the royal household during the fifth dynasty. He is especially associated with a king named Niuserre, who ruled Egypt for at least a decade.

Miroslav Bárta, director of the archaeological team from the Czech Institute of Egyptology, is particularly pleased with the historical details contained in the tomb as well as its architectural preservation. "This microcosmos illustrates general trends that ruled the society of the day,” he says.

Niuserre “followed the policy of marrying some of his daughters to his top officials to keep their ambitions at bay,” says Bárta. “This is exactly the moment when the empire starts to break down due to rising expenses and increasing independence of powerful families.”

It was also a time when Egypt’s kings had run out of room at the royal funerary complex on the Giza plateau, the site of the grand pyramids of the fourth dynasty. They were now building smaller, rougher pyramids farther south.

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Perhaps the most enjoyable vaccination video I’ve ever seen. Have you seen a health care provider ever do this? I should add it to my repertoire. 

Quote from William C. Roberts, an American physician who specialises in cardiac pathology.

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Physicians with Head Mirrors

Ever wonder where the stereotypical headband mirror thing that you see on old illustrations of doctors came from?

It’s actually a reflector. Before we had battery-powered and flexible electrical lights, gas and oil-powered flames were the best we could do, but you don’t want to put that too close to the patient.

The concave reflective surface of the mirror focuses the diffuse light to a point inside the patient, which the physician can see through the hole in the center of the device.

Today, these reflectors are not frequently used in developed nations, as their primary purpose (otolaryngology - that is, ear, nose, and throat doctors) now has instruments which can illuminate the cavities being examined without an external source of light. However, they’re still very useful in countries with intermittent or unreliable power sources, and are often kept on hand in surgical suites and hospitals in those countries, in case of power outage during a procedure.

Diseases of the Nose and Accessory Cavities. W. Spencer Watson, 1890.

Profile: Dr. Josef Mengele

One of Adolf Hitler’s most insidious goals was his Final Solution: genocide, the killing of all jews in Europe and inevitably throughout the world. Genocide involves people killing large numbers of victims while at the same time remaining emotionally detached from the operation. Special techniques were routinely used to neutralise any guilt associated with the wholesale slaughter of humans. Large rations of alcohol were distributed regularly to many executioners; they were also provided with better food and housing than their peers. To professionalise this killing, special terminology, such as human material and subjects were used to identify intended victims.

Physicians usually supervised the incoming trains at the death camps such as Auschwitz and Treblinka. Their job was to identify which prisoners would or would not be immediately sent to the gas chambers. For some of the doctors this was a very stressful task that evoked severe anxiety. This was not true of Dr. Josef Mengele; he regularly volunteered for selection duty. At 32 Dr. Mengele was an aspiring geneticist who held a passion for fame and notoriety. Disturbed by the lack of warmth between him and his parents, Mengele was determined to raise himself up in their eyes through a successful career in medicine, He easily accepted the Nazi philosophy that it was possible through selection, refinement, and genetic engineering to create the ultimate ‘pure’ race. At the camps he had an endless supply of human material on which to experiment. Those who were not deemed fit for experimentation were usually gassed and cremated shortly after their arrival at the camps, except those prisoners who were forced into labor.

Mengele set himself apart from from the other physicians and soon became known as the most feared man in Auschwitz. His 'experiments’ turned out to be ruthless, diabolical acts of torture that nearly always ended in death. Unlike many who simply followed his orders, Mengele understood his work with a passion. Witnesses reported having seen his laboratory lined with pairs of eyes from his experiments on dozens of victims. His obsession was to conduct comparative research on children, especially twins. he was constantly in search of identical twins. He often performed surgery on the children without anaesthetics. In one case he took two children, one of them a hunchback, and surgically sewed them together.

In one instance he had a hunchback father and his 15 year old son, who had a deformed foot, executed. He then had all the felsh boiled off their frames and bleached their skeletons before displaying the victims’ bones for his colleagues to see. He also ordered several adults female prisoners to be shot and their breasts and muscles from their thighs extracted to be used as 'cultivating material’ for future experiments. Mengele was reported to have jumped on pregnant woman’s stomachs until the foetuses were expelled and even dissected a 1 year old child while it was still alive. 

Ola Orekunrin

Physician

Born and raised in England and of Nigerian parentage, Ola Orekunrin made history when at the age of 21 she became a medical doctor thus becoming one of the youngest medical doctors in England. She started her medical degree at the University of York and passed with flying colours.

She was raised by foster white parents and went to a primary school run by Catholic nuns and her family often struggled to make ends meet. According to her, her foster mother, Dorren was a tremendous influence in shaping her life.

Now at age 26, Orekunrin is founder of The Flying Doctors, the first air ambulance service in West Africa. She was prompted to start the new venture after her younger sister died of anaemia. Her sister was always in and out of hospitals and eventually died for lack of the availability of an air ambulance. But starting this venture was not easy.

She gave up a high flying job in England and her dreams of becoming the president of the British Medical Association and minister for the conservative party and moved to Nigeria.

According to her, “I was rejected more times than I can remember.”
“Sometimes I would spend hours waiting in an office only to be told to come back the next day and then be turned down.” she said.

“One time, on my way to Ondo State, I was robbed of all I had and was told by my companion, who was travelling with me, not to speak or else my accent would give me away and be the basis for my kidnap. Even in the face of difficultly, I was able to get some funding in addition to what I had saved up.

“The first time an air ambulance service was suggested for Nigeria was in 1960 and nothing was done about that idea. Having studied the models in Kenya, Libya, Uganda and India, coupled with my growing passion to help improve the health care system in Nigeria, which I believe is poor, I became even more determined to bring a similar service to Nigeria,” she said in a recent interview.

“We are completely physician-led and adhere to the highest standards of medical practice supported by the East Anglian Air Ambulance in the United Kingdom. Our mission is simple— to provide the best possible standard of health care to all.”

When asked if poor Nigerians would be able to benefit from her service, she said: “What I do hope is that more states will take up cover as well as making it increasingly available to the common man. I know that as Nigeria starts to take health care reform more seriously, this will begin to happen.”

When people say “why don’t you just become a doctor?” or “can’t make it through med school?”

Just, no.

The type of care and practice of a nurse are completely different than those of a doctor. It’s not about the money, or the rank, or the education level (though I could get a PhD in nursing). It’s about what I want to do. Nurses have this special quality… I can’t really define it, but I see it and I want to carry it out. It’s a caring process. Nurses notice and catch things that doctors don’t. Nurses are the primary caregiver of the patient– they spend the most time with them. They’re wonderful, strong, special people. 

I just wish people could understand that I’m not becoming a nurse because I “can’t become a doctor”. I’m becoming a nurse because that’s what I want to do. It’s a totally different ballpark. 

It especially bothers me when “male nurses” are looked down upon for these reasons or it being a “girl’s job”.

Interview with Urgent Care Physician, Dr. Cranquis

Dr. Cranquis is an urgent care physician and author of the blog, Dr. Cranquis’ Mumbled Gripes. He writes pseudonymous, hilarious vignettes about his career and journey to medicine. But most importantly, the blog is full of helpful tips for medical school admissions, surviving medical school, and residency. This interview only skims the surface of the mysterious life of Dr. Cranquis, read more on Future M.D.

Goddess of the Day: February 20

Eir – Norse Goddess of Healing.  She is a master physician, wielding power in the healing of the mind, body, and spirit; shamanic and energetic healings fall within her realm. Eir knows the secret powers of herbs, and bestows healing and wisdom to the women who seek Her out. She is one of Frigg’s twelve handmaidens, and is also counted among the Valkyries, using her talents to resurrect the dead.  A patroness of those in health-related fields, Eir only teaches women the secrets of the healing arts.

(text from Brandi Auset, The Goddess Guide. Art by Clyde Caldwell)