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200 Years Ago in Norwich : Extraordinary Medical Circumstances

Another post in my series of articles from 200 years ago, this appeared in the Norwich Mercury in 1823. Firstly, any article from this period starting with “the following extraordinary circumstance” is likely to be quite an appealing thing to read and this certainly transpired to be an intriguing story. Not that it was evident from the first line that the newspaper editor wasn’t sure his readers would believe it.

“The following extraordinary circumstance, although scarcely coming within the bounds of probability, is nevertheless undeniably true. A son of Mr. Thurman, of Cotton [I’m not sure of this, it definitely doesn’t say Catton, but I’m not sure where this place is], in this county, tailor, about 15 years of age, being about eight weeks ago employed in shooting small birds which were in the upper branches of a tree on his father’s premises, when the barrel of the piece bursting, he was stuck to the ground, and the report of the explosion being heard, he was found by some part of the family lying apparently lifeless.

On removing him into the house it was perceived that he was not dead, and the best medical assistance being promptly resorted to, it was soon discovered that one of his eyes had been forced inward by some part of the gun, and though animation was restored he was incapable of speech, and any kind of nourishment, whether solids or liquids, weer with the greatest difficulty forced down, in quantities so small as scarcely to be sufficient to preserve him in existence. In this painful and perilious state he continued during the space of five weeks, at the end of which time the part of the gun which the explosion had forced into his eye made its way through into his mouth, which took place in the night, and by putting his fingers into his mouth he brought it away; in the morning it was examined, when, to the great astonishment of all who witnessed it, there was the breech of the barrel, the screw, and a part of the wood of the stock, the whole of which had ever since the accident being making its way through the internal cavities of the nostrils, and which, on being weighed, was found to be the weight of two ounces nearly, since which time (except in the loss he has sustained of one of his eyes) he seems to be in a fair way of recovery”.

I’m mot a medical professional, but is this even possible?