Monday 28 January 2019

A medical first in Ireland

In this months issue of the Irish Medical Journal IMJ, three doctors from Tallaght Hospital record a peculiar case of self-abuse. Young chap had presented himself to hospital because his arm was all swollen, painful, red and hot - tumor, dolor, rubor and calor - the four classic symptoms of inflammation. The patient revealed that, to cure a back-ache, he had elected to inject his own semen intravenously every month for a year and a half. A comprehensive search of the medical literature revealed that no similar case had been reported since records began. A bit like the Darwin Awards for people who have offed themselves in extravagantly silly ways [examples], such stories get quite a bit of traction. I felt I had to share it with you even at the risk that several readers might try a copy-cat self-treatment for a real or imagined illness. Semen is, after all, free and readily available [to chaps anyway] and in all sorts of metaphorical ways is deemed to be 'potent'.

Searching the medical literature through Pubmed is an essential part of medico-scientific research: you need to know if anyone has been there before - they might have a helpful remedy. The current investigation reminds me of my training set of pubmed search terms which included "vacuum cleaner injury". Don't go there if you're squeamish and don't read Deadspin's 2018 Year in Review list of objects retrieved from people's orifices. Don't compare and contrast 2017's list: same picture different inventory.

This report is only vaguely related [even in my 'mind'] to the widely misunderstood tale about Irish poet laureate WB Yeats and his monkey-gland potency injections - which probably never happened. In that story, I used Yeats as part of the back-story on experiments where youthful blood is injected to old veins in an attempt to live forever. This treatment has gone commercial at least partly because blood-transfusion falls under medical regulators' categorization "generally recognised as safe" GRAS. Ambrosia Inc. will sell to Patriarchs 2 litres of young blood delivered for $8,000. It's not clear how that $8K is divvied up among the donor, management, share-holders and lawyers.

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