If it hadn’t been for medical advancements, I’d have most likely lost both of my parents by now. In fact, by the standards that existed over a hundred years ago, I’d technically be classed as a middle-aged woman – older even. Why? Because the average life expectancy in the US in 1918 was just 38 for men and 42 for women, and trust me, there’s a good reason for this.
To begin with, insulin wasn’t even around, or vaccines for a number of deadly diseases like tuberculosis. What’s more is that the pill was still a good few decades away, forcing many women to have child after child, despite a high mortality rate during labor. Perhaps most shocking of all, however, is the fact that bloodletting was still regularly used until the 19th century.
Check out the video below to see just how far medical science has come over the years:
Unfortunately, medicine, like everything else in this world, has only been able to develop through trial and error, and for every breakthrough discovery, there have been countless mistakes and failed treatments – some of which really have to be seen to be believed. So, without further ado, here are 16 disturbingly fascinating vintage medical photographs that’ll make you happy to be alive today.
1. Antique tracheal tube
I think I’d chose death over having this shoved down my throat. It looks like something from a car mechanic’s workshop.
2. Arthritis patient in treatment
Back in the day, you didn’t pop pills for this common ailment, you hired a hangman.
3. Direct radiograph
Having a picnic in Chernobyl would be a safer option.
4. Scoliosis treatment
Not great, but it’s admittedly better than being hanged.
5. Electro-shock therapy
God bless SSRIs. No one should ever be subject to this unless there’s no other option.
6. A lobotomy
This is the visual representation of how I feel after reading a certain politician’s Twitter feed.
7. Early brain surgery
At least doctors have the common decency to shave your head beforehand now.
8. Early prosthetic limbs
A slight improvement on pirates’ peg legs and a hook.
9. Dental apparatus in the early 20th-century
I had to get a root canal last year. If a contraption like this had been used, I’m pretty sure I’d have passed out.
10. The dentist grandma
Grandmas really can do anything – keep the house clean, sew up your ripped trousers, and, naturally, perform extensive dental work.
11. Heroin tablets
This would cure whatever you were suffering from, but you might also start to see people crawling out of mirrors…
12. Opium: It will cure EVERYTHING
It didn’t matter how old you were. If you had a cold, you could pop these bad boys and ride a rainbow unicorn at the same time.
13. Antique surgical equipment
A toolbox that you can use to perform a hysterectomy and repair a car.
14. Flatulence cure
For whatever the 18th century equivalent of Taco Bell was.
15. Antique catheter
No amount of Durex lubricant will help you here.
Catch Your Breath
This may look like an early prototype for Darth Vader’s outfit in Star Wars, but this is actually a portable respirator for somebody suffering with polio.
So there you have it – 16 vintage medical photographs that will make you glad to be alive today. While there’s admittedly some painful procedures and instruments around in 2018, I think we can at least take comfort in the knowledge that absolutely none of them compared to these medical monstrosities. Our ancestors really did suffer for the healthcare system we have today!