On The Bricks

April 23, 2020

          Before the advent of modern medicine, there were some pretty wild treatments used on patients according to The Book of Bizarre Truths. The leech, a wormlike parasite, was thought to alleviate a vast number of ailments as it grew fat on a sick person’s blood.

          Thankfully, contemporary doctors don’t use leeches as a cure all blood drainer like the ancient Greeks and Egyptians and the medieval Europeans did. Today they’re used primarily to help patients recover from major reconstructive surgery. As tissue reforms following a skin graft, blood often drains abnormally, which can lead to swelling. The blood vessels in the ears and other delicate body parts are especially prone to clots that can kill the recovering tissue.

          Leeches are a viable solution to these problems because they can drain blood, and their saliva contains more than 30 different proteins that keep blood flowing, numb pain, and reduce swelling. The amazing truth is, they are more effective at these treatments than any alternative that has been tried by modern medical practitioners.

          Meanwhile, the maggot, the larval form of the blowfly, is still used to treat serious wounds that are infected or gangrenous. Maggots feed on the dead tissue which effectively cleans the wound and arrests infection, allowing the damaged tissue beneath to heal. The maggots’ secret weapon, a secretion of enzymes that turn dead tissue into a digestible mush, is known to help wounds that have resisted all other treatments.

          The maggot procedure is an ordeal. Hundreds of the wriggling insects are applied to the wound and covered with a bandage. After a couple of days, the well-fed maggots are removed and replaced with a hungry group and the process is repeated until the wound is healed.

Famous Okie information: William Bernhardt of Tulsa, Okla., was born in 1960 and is an American suspense fiction author best known for his “Ben Kincaid” series of books. He has sold more than 10 million books throughout the world. He has been nominated for the Oklahoma Book Award 17 times in three categories (Fiction, Poetry, and Young Adult) and has twice won, in 1995 and 1999. In 1998 he received the Southern Writers Guild’s Gold Medal Award. In 2000, he was honored with the H. Louise Cobb Distinguished Author Award, which is given “in recognition of an outstanding body of work that has profoundly influenced the way in which we understand ourselves and American society at large.” That same year, he was presented with a Career Achievement Award at the 2000 Booklovers Convention in Houston. He has also been inducted into the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame. In 2009, he received the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award, making him the only author to receive both the Davis and the Cobb Distinguished Author awards. His poetry has received two Pushcart Prize nominations and an Oklahoma Book Award nomination.

A former trial attorney, Bernhardt has received several awards for his pro bono work and public service. In 1994, Barrister Magazine named him one of the top 25 young lawyers in America. He lives in Tulsa with his wife, Lara Bernhardt, the novelist (The Wantland Files) and audiobook narrator, and their children. On Oct. 10, 2013, Bernhardt became a Jeopardy! champion, fulfilling a lifelong dream of appearing on that quiz show.

Keep going on New Year’s resolutions: Be an avid sunscreen wearer. The sun can do damage even when you’re in the car. Make SPF your new best friend!

Made me laugh: I broke my finger last week. On the other hand, I’m OK.

See you on the bricks, soon! Stay safe.