John D. Bridgers M.D.
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The Bone-Setter

The Bone Setter
Medical Humor

Near mid-century our County Medical Society honored its senior members and retirees.  

Each was asked to share an amusing story from his experiences. 

One physician was well into his nineties, still practicing, and had been a country practitioner for nearly three-quarters of a century. 

He told us about the bone-setters from the early days of his career, which a quick calculation revealed was a time shortly after the Civil War. 

It seems that in those antique days there were lay practitioners who traveled around the county-side setting fractured bones. 

These folk were apparently remnants from a time when rural people were remote from any physician much less an orthopedist. 

There were mid-wives, herbalists and sundry shamans who developed reputations and perhaps skills, in various treatments, and among these were some who were recognized as adept reducers of broken bones.

The "bone-setter" made a regular circuit through his given territory and limbs with fractured bones were splinted until he made his rounds. 

So, once, the "bone-setter" was coming and a table had been set up in the church yard to accommodate his patients. 

A man brought his younger brother with a splint on one leg. 

The boy's turn came and the "bone-setter" started manipulating the leg to get the bone ends back in place. 

The lad screamed and writhed until the healer finished and reapplied the splint. 

He told the man his brother should do well and the bones should knit nicely. 

The man said to his brother:   "My God -- that must have really hurt!" 

The boy replied:   "Naw -- it didn't hurt a bit." 

His brother asked:   "Well, what were you carrying on so about?" 

The boy replied again:   "I was 'fraid that he'd get a hold of my sore leg!"




March 19, 1996


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