Breath Taking Photographs: Respiratory Disease

Pneumatologists and Respiratory Disease Treatment
Stereoview Circa 1855

This amusing photograph of gas inhalation represents a critical stage in the histories of both respiratory disease treatment and general anesthesia. 
Waiting Out the Pneumonia Crisis
Silver Print, 5 by 7 inches, Circa 1895

In the pre-antibiotic era, pneumonia was a dreaded killer of the young and a welcomed friend of the very old. Prior to the specific therapies and antibiotics of the twentieth century many patients were better off if their disease ran its natural course. Thus doing nothing was often the best therapy. This photograph is common of many similar images of physicians, nurses and the family about the bedside. Many times comments such as “she will be better” were attached to the photograph. The implication being the physicians knew what they were doing, and had confidence in the outcome. It must be noted, pneumonia is still a deadly disease especially when combined with influenza. 
Heliotherapy and Fresh Air treatment for Tuberculosis
New Mexico, 1927

By the 1920s, despite aggressive research, no successful tuberculin vaccine, anti-serum or chemotherapeutic agent had been developed. Most tuberculosis specialists recommended heliotherapy, exposure to the sun, rest and fresh air as the most beneficial, non-surgical, treatment. Eastern and Western high altitude mountainous areas offering crisp fresh air were thought ideal locations. This photograph was taken in a New Mexico tuberculosis sanitarium. Total nudity was preferred for heliotherapy. The warmer, western, dry desert states became the preferred destination for patients with asthma and other chronic lung conditions.
Patient in Respiratory Chamber, Mt. Sinai Hospital,
New York, Circa 1924

As a result of pioneer experiments Mt.Sinai was able to develop one of the worlds first hyperbaric chambers. The chamber offered a new and safer modality for the treatment of numerous other diseases For proteinosis and other lung deposit diseases it is possible to isolate each lung alternately by intubation techniques then administer high oxygenation of one lung as the other lung is repeatedly washed with specially prepared fluids clearing the lung of residue.
Emergency Iron Lung Ambulance, Circa 1937
Death from bulbar poliomyelitis was a frightening prospect for those infected and total panic ensued as the patient realized he couldn’t breath or swallow. A large percentage of the victims died within three days even if placed in an iron lung. The prevailing philosophy was the parents, perhaps, didn’t act quickly enough when their child became ill and that if an iron lung ambulance could be developed it could save lives. The ambulance envisioned would offer early respiratory assistance which would avoid suffocation. The problem was complicated however, as bulbar polio also paralyzed the throat muscles used for swallowing. As the secretions could not be controlled, aspiration pneumonia become a frequent cause of death of those in the respirators. By the end of the decade the disease, infantile poliomyelitis, was renamed simply poliomyelitis or “polio.” When adults contracted the disease they were more helpless than children. Parents could carry their children to the hospital but ambulances were necessary for the adults. The creation of an iron lung ambulance had a great public relations effect as the fear of suffocation at home was somewhat abated.


ESCAPED CROCODILES FLOATED FREE! The Great Paris Flood of January 1910

Although the anniversary of the flood was last year, frigid rains this week in New York City bring these images to mind. 

Lizzy Davies of The UK Guardian Writes:
"The summer had been wet, the winter even wetter, and bedraggled Parisians entered 1910 beneath an ominously heavy sky of gunmetal grey. [They thought] it couldn't get any worse. They were wrong. It got worse than they could have ever imagined.
The latter half of January brought torrential downpours and, already swollen, the river Seine burst its banks. Streets were inundated. Homes were under water. Paris had seen in the century showcasing man's loftiest achievements and technological advances at the Universal Exhibition, but just 10 years later the city was brought to her knees by an old foe, Mother Nature.
An episode as dramatic as it was brief, the flood receded in the collective memory of Parisians as the horrors of the first world war unfolded….But historians believe it deserves to be remembered. With 20,000 buildings wrecked within days and 200,000 people made homeless, the deluge brought devastation to the city on a scale not seen for centuries….According to measurements taken at the Quai de la Tournelle, the Seine reached 8.5 metres, the highest seen since 1658. Of Paris's 20 arrondissements, 12 were flooded. The total cost of the damage was estimated at 400m francs d'or – a sum the BHVP reckons is roughly equivalent in today's money to over €1bn (£900m).
For many wealthy residents and outside observers, the arrival of the waters had a novelty value; commentators joked that Paris had temporarily been transformed into Venice. Photographers descended, artists set up where they could and curious bystanders idled away afternoons watching life in the city turned upside-down.
The more sensationalist spoke of escaped crocodiles floating free. In an account for the Petit Journal, the poet Guillaume Apollinaire wrote: "On Avenue Montaigne people organized pleasure tours by boat. For two sous, you pass by the smartest hotels and photographers will take your picture as a flood victim for the sum of 50 centimes."
In the face of disaster, however, Paris squared up. Emergency services, police and charities swung into action and residents began building wooden walkways above the water. They reached the highest floors by stepladder. MPs sailed to work by boat and worked feverishly by gaslight until the flood waters receded.
Although there was considerable damage to infrastructure, human casualties were minimal and there was no mass outbreak of disease. Official records noted only one death by drowning, though historians believe the figure was higher…."
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