One of my favorite Saturday Night Live sketches is “Theodoric of York: Medieval Barber” with Steve Martin. In this sketch, Theodoric gives his medical expertise to the people of his village, mostly involving bloodletting, which seems to be the cure for everything, including mass bleeding.
But the part of the sketch that always stays with me is when a mother brings her very sick daughter for medical advice, and Theodoric says:
– You know, medicine is not an exact science, but we are learning all the time. Why, just fifty years ago, they thought a disease like your daughter’s was caused by demonic possession or witchcraft. But nowadays we know that Isabelle is suffering from an imbalance of bodily humors, perhaps caused by a toad or a small dwarf living in her stomach.
Every time I get sick, I can’t help but think of those lines as I run through the causes of what might be wrong with me. For example, last week my back was in terrible pain and after a few days I got a bad cold. Today I woke up with a swollen, infected eye.
To me, the toad or dwarf theory is sounding pretty plausible at the moment. I think the creature moves around to different spots. It’s certainly not a slipped disc, virus or contaminated make-up problem. And it couldn’t possibly have anything to do with aging, so I’m with Theodoric on the toad/small dwarf theory.
I wonder if anyone in the Old Town still performs bloodletting?