Idiosyncratic thinking on electricity and leeches
First thing first, I am not entirely sure as to the proper terminology, but as I understand it, two short stories I am about to tell are intersection of faulty logic, magical thinking, and a bit of ignorance.
Background setup: back in the land of my ancestors I know a man, let’s call him Alex. Way back when Alex gained a university degree in physics. Nowadays, he is an adult with a job in entirely different field. As most of the functioning adults he has a family, a house, a job, and one or two peculiar beliefs.
First story had occurred at an outdoor weekend meeting with friends a decade of so ago. As the conversation went through the regular topics of news, happenings, family, health, it wandered somewhere different. Sitting under a tall tree and sipping hot sweet tea accompanied by crackers and pastry, someone mentioned the risks of being hit by lightning (weather was moody, with inclination towards rain) while being positioned as they were. However, since there was no evidence of a thunderstorm anytime soon, they continued to sit there and talk. And then Alex stated that in case of anyone being struck, at least they have a shovel to perform first aid, so to say, by burying the struck person in the ground. Taking into the consideration his degree in physics this statement must have been striking, so to say. He then explained that it is necessary to get all of the electricity out of the body by covering the injured in soil. I’d guess this was his understanding of the grounding, undoubtedly important safety feature in working with electricity, applied so wrongly and against basics of how electricity works, that it was hard to believe that it was said seriously (mind you, I am not a electricity connoisseur by any means).
Now, let’s take a step back and say that in most of the former Soviet countries you can legally buy yourself a lot of the medications without involving a doctor in any way, excluding the controlled substances. This used to leave people with the opportunity to cultivate their own private rampantly resistant flora, although in recent years it became difficult to purchase antibiotics as some restrictions were implemented. But the idea of being your own physician is there, as is the idea that the injection is way more helpful way of delivering medication into the body (which is true, to some degree; but it depends) and if you need “real” relief, it had to be a shot (a lot of people when hospitalized for one reason or another would complain, if they are not receiving any injections that they are wasting their time and not being helped at all).
Thus we come to the second story, where Alex suffering from a bad headache decided to inject himself with indometacin (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), he opts for the intramuscular approach ( people do that, twisting their torsos and stabbing the buttock; also it is a common practice to get intramuscular shot at home via asking a family member or a neighbor who may or may not have anything to do with healthcare). So he manages to do it, and gradually headache subsides. And here the narrative would have ended in most cases, but this one had to be continued. For an unknown reason (but maybe due to not washing hands properly, or cleaning the skin sufficiently, or just plain bad luck) his buttock rebels and develops an abscess, that in turn gives him hell, forcing a visit to a doctor. The surgeon takes appropriate action: excises and drains the pus collection, stuffing the remaining space with sterile gauze, giving him antibiotics and instructing to come back in a few days, to change the dressing and check how healing is progressing. Our hero takes the meds for a day or two, pain and fever decrease, which he mentions while visiting a relative, who in turn suggest an old and natural way out of his misery (even though Alex is already improving, most importantly abscess being drained), that not only will help him heal but also would allow him to to heal “naturally”— the leeching. He accepts the offer.
It is widely accepted in the region that the leeches will suck only “the bad blood”, leaving the good one for your benefit. How do they do it? What is bad in your particular case and how leeches know that? Is there a highly efficient filtering system in their digestive systems? Would they get a mouth full of it, and some tiny goblins in there would stack the bad red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in one box, and the good ones in another, later dumping the latter back into the wound? Also, if they filter the blood and spit it back into your body, why they gain a considerable volume and then fall off, instead off just hanging there, pumping and filtering forever? Also also, since for the leech it is the source of nourishment, why would it want spoiled food?
In any case, Alex gets leeches on and after a while they are removed. Considering himself cured, he gets into his car to drive about 50 kilometers back home. Later, when sharing this story, he mentioned creeping uneasiness and discomfort, but at the time he did not pay particular attention to it. Getting out the car on arrival, he immediately felt much worse — lightheaded, unsteady, nauseated, and closing the door, he looked onto the car seat which was drenched in blood. His back and the leg on the side of abscess were all bloody too. He managed to walk to the porch of the house and open the door, where his knees gave way and he collapsed. Luckily his spouse was at home, and knew enough not to panic and perform first aid (simple dressing, placing his legs above his head on a stool, warm sweet tea and a blanket) while bleeding stopped. He bled not only from the leech placement sites around the freshly drained abscess but more importantly from the bigger cut made for drainage. Alex had no idea how leeches manage to suck the blood for a prolonged time when most of the similar size wounds would stop bleeding rather fast. Now I am not saying that he should have known of hirudin in worms’ saliva and it’s anticoagulative properties. But the person who advised and provided leeching most definitely should have.