Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

the community. The public ought, likewise, to entertain a just appreciation of medical qualifications, to make a proper discrimination between science and the assumptions of ignorance and empiricism ; to afford every encouragement and facility for the acquisition of medical education.”

The physician is no physician, in the highest and truest sense, who does not feel that his obligations to the public demand the bighest and best endeavor within the power of the individual to give.

II. THE FUNCTION OF THE LUNGS.

READ BY D. EMERY HOLMAX, M. D., OF NEW YORK.

(September 7, 1887.)

Prolongation of life is the greatest effort made by all humanity. Preservation of life is one of the strongest principles of instinct. There is scarcely any sacrifice people will not make to gain this object. Yet how startling is the fact — the prevalence of death among the youth of this country who are under thirty years of age! This vast population of such limited career and little usefulness go out of existence at the very time when life should be the brightest and fullest of great deeds. By looking into the causes of this great calamity, it is found that the greater proportion of the community is carried away by some variety of lung complications. If this is the source of the evil, then here the remedy must be applied. The spot most liable to attack must be guarded. It is well understood how rapidly a stream of water will destroy a fortification if once the work gives way. The lung tissue must be trained and toughened to resist opposing elements, as the muscles of the athlete are prepared for conflict. My subject will be treated entirely from a popular standpoint, the use of technical terms and scientific definitions being carefully avoided.

The problem of life is exceedingly interesting and the solution often difficult. The length of life of the humanrace should equal or exceed one hundred, years according to the law of development of being in the created kingdom, that “the duration of life is five times that of the number of years coming to maturity." There is an endless variety of life in the world. Beginning with plants, we bave the mould, which lasts but an hour, and the cedar, which lasts for a thousand years. In the insect world the ephemeron lasts only a day, and at twenty hours of age becomes an experienced veteran and looks upon its numerous descendants much as the parents of Eden would today regard the vast multitude of beings throughout the universe. These are insects of a higher order, whose existence through various stages of larva, chrysalis and butterfly requires a period of years. Among mammalians the same marked contrast prevails between the little animals of a few months and

more.

Man, who should live for a century. Length of life should be in proportion to the time required for development.

The term of maturity of the little underground animals is a few months. Their period of existence is but a few years long. The horse reaches his full growth in three or four years and he lives fifteen to twenty years.

The camel grows to the twentieth year, and his life is coëqual with the century plant of the desert. The time of maturity of the human family is twenty or twenty-five years.

Thus our lives should extend to one hundred years or

The experience of the past proves that this law is correct. The world of people generally regard as fabulous the great ages of the patriarchs. If we remember that the year, until the time of Abraham, consisted of only three months, the length of their lives does not so far surpass that of many modern instances. It was not until a much later period of the world's history that the year was made up of twelve calendar months. In remote parts of Asia the division of a year into three months is occasionally found today.

An instance of longevity in the more remote Middle Ages was Luceja, the Roman actress, who appeared on the stage for a whole century. Making her first appearance at twelve, she lived to the age of one bundred and twelve years. Helen Gray, of London, England, was favored by the actual growth of a new set of teeth at the advanced age of one hundred and five years. Henry Jenkins, of Yorkshire, England, is one of the most remarkable cases of long life. One hundred and forty years before his death he was a witness in the court and in all probability was a person of some years at that time, or he would not have figured in that capacity. He was a fisherman and lived one hundred and sixty-nine years. Others of great age were: the Countess of Desmond, 150 years ; Thomas Parr, Shropshire, Eng., 152 years ; Cybrinski, a Poland priest, 167 years; a United States pensioner, 117 years; Margaret Patten, Scotland, 141 years; Henry Evans, a Welshman, 129 years; Jane Schrimshaw, London, 127 years ; Cornaro, a Venetian nobleman, 104 years; Marion Delorme, France, 134 years; Letitia Cox, Bybrook, Jaroaica, 160 years ; Peter Torten-Kafrock, Hungary, 185 years; Varnavas Pangolos, the Greek patriot, 111 years.

The reader will doubtless say that these extreme cases are doubtful. As additional proof, one of my own kindred might be

added to the list, whose life has already completed the 105th year, and who is still able to dictate correspondence to relatives at a distance.

From these-life histories we must be convinced that something is wrong with a great part of the race. The celebrated case of the Countess of Desmond is of so much interest that it might be well to mention it. “She was of the family of Fitzgerald of Drumana in the county of Waterford. When Edward IV was king, the countess married the fourteenth Earl of Desmond, visited England during the same reign, was presented at court, and danced with the Duke of Gloucester, afterwards Richard III. Sir Walter Raleigh says that in his time she was no less remarkable for her sprightliness than for her age. The house of Desmond was ruined by an attainder after the countess had lived over a century, and in her one hundred and fortieth year she travelled from Bristol to London to solicit relief from the court. She lived some years after this and twice cut a full set of teeth. She was nearly 150 when she died, as well preserved as many a woman at sixty.”

In the reign of James I a morris dance was performed in Herefordshire by twelve people whose united ages amounted to 1,209 years. It would be difficult to say which was the greater wonder, that so many people in one small county should live so long, or that they should be in health or strength and spirits to travel and to dance.

The great number of deaths at all ages and stages of existence caused from some affection of the lungs makes the topic one of grave importance as well as deep interest to the community. There are the old fashioned asthmas, the pleurisies, the emphysemas, the pneumonias and phthises or consumption, the most terrible of them all, and the greatest enemy to even the prime of life. The lungs seem to be the grand highway of disease, and it is natural that they should be such when we consider their extent, great exposure, constant use and their neglect and great abuse.

The two large organs of the lungs, composed of one elastic, spongy tissue, occupy nearly the entire upper part of the chest. cavity. They extend from the lower part of the neck to the lower border of the ribs. They commence with the trachea or wiadpipe. This divides at the lower part of the neck into two parts, one for the left and one for the right lung. These sub-divide until they

approach the last division, which is called the ultimate bronchial tube. This opens into a small space called the pulmonary lobule, which is composed of small partitions known as vesicles. These are surrounded by an exceedingly thin membrane covered with most minute blood vessels, over which passes the entire quantity of the blood of the body. The volume of air breathed at each inspiration within these spaces is brought into the closest proximity with the blood. Hence the great importance that every inch of these surfaces should be in perfect condition. The sum of all these little spaces where the air meets the blood is equal to the enormous area of 150 square yards. The external atmosphere may at each breath be bringing in all manner of deleterious material, seeking some weak spot to gain a foothold. This weak place cannot exist without danger to health. For the entire current of the blood comes here to obtain from the outside world the life-giving principle, or else the animal functions of life cannot exist. If we exclude the air from a burning coal it ceases to be bright. If the air is diminished from the lungs of a child it loses its bright color. If the air is entirely taken away from the growing plant the leaves droop and the blossoms fade. If it is suddenly denied the animal kingdom, violent spasms and a speedy death ensue. This vast surface of 150 square yards of tissue covering the blood requires the supply of pure oxygen from the air 1,080 times every hour. Obnoxious elements of every description are unceasingly, night and day, poured into this tissue organism, and they are rendered powerless only accordingly to the power of resistance. This great surface exposed to all enemies of health should be as well and thoroughly tended and every cell well washed with air as that the hands and face should be washed or the stomach should be free, or the muscles of the legs and arms receive proper exercise. When children play and race and romp they fill the lungs in every part, and the very exercise strengthens the lung tissues. And how rare are pulmonary troubles found at this age.

Belief in hereditary influence is greatly exaggerated, and the effect is often demoralizing upon the individual who thinks himself the victim of some disease which his ancestors possessed. Surroundings and training should entirely overcome such possibilities and the existence of any such belief. Tender, pale green plants may exist in shady places with poor light and unfertile soil for years in succession. But bring them out of their harmful

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »