Monday, August 13, 2007
I am here in Edinburgh, a gorgeous cobbled, hilly city with a castle, plucky people and an overwhelming amount of artist events to see at one of its various festivals (The Fringe, The International Festival, and The Edinburgh International Book Festival, for which I am here). But the most interesting sight for me to see this morning was the home of James Young Simpson, the first person to use chloroform to alleviate the pain of childbirth. In 1847, Simpson, two medical assistants, and some other guests passed around a tumbler (preserved in the red wall-papered dining room) that was filled with the "curious liquid." After inhaling the chloroform, they all flopped to the floor, with the exception of Simpson's woozy niece who looked down on them as she cried out "I'm an angel! Oh I'm an angel." With that, Simpson knew he had found a cure for pain and administered the drug to his first obstetric patient shortly thereafter. The woman gave her baby girl the middle name "Anaesthesia." One other interesting note: Simpson's house, the place where a drug was invented, is now used as a drug treatment center.