Thursday, August 09, 2007

Simpson

Not the yellow cartoon variety this time, but Doctor James Young Simpson, one of Edinburgh's many noted contributor's to medical science and also the first man to be knighted for services to medicine. On the way home tonight the bus was stopped further back from a junction than usual because of the sheer business of the city during Festival time. I looked up from my book and noticed that ten feet up on the western wall of the ultra-posh Balmoral Hotel is a plaque I've never noticed before, despite passing it a thousand times (just the wrong spot to be noticed as you are walking past). And the plaque commemorates the spot where a pharmacy used to stand before the hotel; it was here that the chemist prepared the chloroform that James Young Simpson would use in 1847 as he experimented with anesthesia and pain relief for medical procedures. Many resisted his work at first (which sounds crazy to us - imagine many medical procedures without anesthesia?!?!) as 'un-natural' but its use took off when Queen Victoria gave in an used it to ease childbirth. I'm sure more than a few mothers will silently thank that chemist and Simpson for starting a line of modern medicine that eases the miracle of birth :-). Simpson I knew about, but I had no idea that plaque was there or the chemist's business either.

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