The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Men Are Funny

At 41, I’ve had occasion to be around a man or two and, my psych teacher aside, they do seem to have a slightly…..different viewpoint. For instance, my beloved Mr. K (who is the joy of my life), decided this morning to vacuum the upstairs. Ladies, how long does it take you to vacuum a hallway and three bedrooms? 20 minutes? 30? Try an hour….and this is what he meant when he said “I’m all done cleaning upstairs. You should go take a look. It looks great!”

Ummmm.....Honey? Have you seen the bed anywhere? He says he saw it last about 2 hours ago so I have hope. But hey—you could eat off the floor. (I have cats, so I wouldn’t recommend it….but you could.) You'd have more luck in the kitchen though. In the immortal words of Elaine Boozler, "You could eat off my floor--look! there's LOTS of stuff down there!"

Another funny man is the good Dr. Gunn. And who, you may ask, is Dr. Gunn? A good question, deserving of a good answer:

I bought this book in an antique store a year or so ago for about $20 and it is one of my most prized possessions (but don't tell the cream colored alpaca yarn, 'kay?). It has a badly broken spine, but it was still a steal. It dates back to 1901, and the title page indicates that it is a “manual for nursing the sick, with supplementary treatises on anatomy, physiology, and hygiene, on domestic and sanitary economy, and on physical culture and development.” An ambitious man, our Dr. Gunn. I happened to look up the chapter on sleeplessness today, sometime after arising at 2:30 this morning (love the time changes, simply LOVE them). Here’s some of what he has to say:

“Disorders of the body, in these days, are engendered and propagated to a frightful extent, by moral commotions and anxieties of the mind. And if I have proved that corporeal exertion, especially when aided by any intellectual excitement or pursuit, can obviate the evils that ensue to soul and body from these causes, I shall do some service to the community.”

Well, there you are. I am suffering from moral commotions and too much intellectual excitement. Clearly, my evils need obviating. Dr. Gunn also believed that blood is made by the body during the day and solidified at night “into several solid parts of the body.” He believed that people would feel unwell upon arising if the solidification process had not been fully accomplished. Which I guess makes me a tad liquid-ey. How about this:

“So rarely do we see a recent case of insanity, that is not preceded by a want of sleep, that we regard it as almost the sure precursor of mental derangement.”


“In a long experience in my practice, I have found nothing that renders sleep so refreshing as the cold bath every night, and so invigorating and strengthening as the cold bath on rising in the morning, and rubbing immediately after it with a coarse towel.”

So, I can have a cold shower every night and a cold bath every morning followed by a rubdown with a coarse towel….or I can expect mental derangement. Tough call, that.

“It is painful to observe that most people abandon themselves to sleep with the utmost carelessness. Considering it only in respect to our bodies, the change produced in them by sleep is very considerable and important. If we consider it in other respects, and reflect upon what may take place during the awful stillness of the night, it appears to me that we ought never to resign ourselves into the arms of sleep without due reflection upon our state, and being in some degree prepared for what may take place.”

If his goal is to relax me so I’ll fall asleep, he may have missed the mark just a bit with that one…..

I also like this part from the first section:

“Life is shortened by indulgence in anger, ill-will, anxiety, envy, grief, sorrow, and excessive care. Therefore it is the province of wisdom to exercise a proper control over the passions. “

I’m still trying to figure out what “excessive care” might be, but I think I’d better figure it out soon—the good doctor goes on to say that to not govern my passions will unquestionably result in destruction of the “vital powers, the digestive system, and the nervous system”. Clearly, I’m just too darned passionate. And I sleep without reflecting on what might happen. And I don’t take nearly enough cold showers or baths. Then again, my problem may just have to do with my gender. There is a whole section entitled “Diseases of Women”, and the introduction has this bit of wisdom:

“…it is the duty of man to reflect, and make due allowance for the feelings of woman, in consideration of the multiplicity of diseases which are entailed upon her by Nature, and which affect her nervous system to a very great extent.”

He also felt that women could develop “an inordinate desire for sexual intercourse” which he said was caused by too much sexual intercourse, “an idle and luxurious mode of living, self-pollution, or over-heated, voluptuous imagination.” Well, there you are.

Ah, for the good old days, eh? When men were men and women were….well…inflicted by a multiplicity of diseases which could affect her nervous system. I’ll tell you honestly….I’m not too surprised they were a little nervous.


  • At 3:48 PM, Anonymous Marianne said…

    Aye, he'd have had you in the funny wee jacket with ties years ago,eh? and look over in the next bed, see the old lass tied down? ah, she's wavin' at ye, (tis I).

    Oh yeah, he's a funny one that Dr. Gunn.
    Obviousy I was clearly steering you wrong, what with the warm baths/showers before bedding down for the night.

  • At 7:14 PM, Blogger Faren said…

    Cold baths...BBRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!
    A very amusing find.

  • At 11:55 PM, Anonymous angie cox said…

    Oh boy that was funny .Not a great surprise that most physicians were male .You might have read on my blog the delights of a 17th cen. physician who seemed to think screaming and moaning during childbirth was due to being hysterical ( a good slap round the face should sort that out ). I say "You try it bud". I am so squeamish about blood I visions of all this congealed stuff stuck in my system. I shall now go for a walk ,have a cold shower in case I should start looking at Jeff with any lavacious thoughts.


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