18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Wednesday, March 11, 1914: Pa took us into town this morning to take the train for mother went along with me. Had never been to Williamsport before and rather enjoyed the trip, going up anyway. You may be sure I took in all the sights.
After we arrived in the city we went directly to the specialist’s office; there the operation was performed.
Was given chloroform and after being under its influence for about half an hour I came to. Ma told me afterwards that I yelled and groaned like everything, so it must have hurt some. I soon became conscious of a very sore throat. Two tonsils had been removed and an adenoid. Was soon able to get up and take a walk with Ma. Arrived home safely. Oh my, the swallowing process is terrible.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
I’m amazed that Grandma had never previously been to Williamsport. It is only about 20 miles from McEwensville—though the train would have had to go through some mountains to get there.
I’m also surprised that Grandma apparently never visited the doctor who removed her tonsils prior to the date of the surgery.
Tonsillectomies apparently were very popular a hundred years ago.I even found a book published in 1914 called Adenoids and Kindred Perils of School Life by D.T. Atkinson, M.D. Here are some quotes and pictures:
Enlarged tonsils and adenoid growths are responsible for many cases of persistent cough. Persons who breathe through their mouths carry into the larynx, twenty times or so a minute, a current of air which has not been freed from dust by the filtering process of the nose, and which is not moistened.
The consequences are that the larynx is kept dry and irritated and responds rapidly to atmospheric changes. Some authorities on the throat have reached the conclusion that in mouth breathing cases there is kept up a mild, almost unnoticed chronic inflammation of the larynx which becomes aggravated under the influence of exposure to cold or irritation from dust. In children with adenoids an almost constant “cold” in the head exists during the winter months.
The adenoid operation, though performed by a limited number of surgeons in different parts of the world, did not come into general use until a few years ago. Both parents and physicians recognize now that mouth breathing is a condition resulting from disease, that it is not a habit and that a child in a normal condition will not breathe through its mouth. . .
I don’t remember Grandma being ill very often during the winter of 1913-14. (She had more colds the previous winter.) I wonder why she decided to have her tonsils removed.