The Squaw Hollow Sensation: Part 4 – The Work Begins

“Mountain Democrat,” June 14, 1879 (continued)

“From the large vat of my elixer (sic), which I have mentioned already, we carefully lifted one of the prepared subjects. I had prepared two, a male and a female, the second to use in case of accident. I chose the man for the first attempt, as having a stronger nervous system, and less complex functional organization. As we carefully lifted the body up out of the water and laid it on the slab, I thought I had never seen a finer form in all my hospital experience. The elixer had worked to a charm, and he seemed not to have been dead more than a week at most. The skin was in a beautiful condition, and I argued favorable from the clearness and fullness of the beautiful dark eyes. He was a true Inca, or Egyptian if you accept my theory, with a fair complexion, showing the least trace of the tawny hue peculiar to this people. His hair was long, his eyebrows fully arched, and thee facial angle of the prevailing great angle of the Caucasian. I first carefully dried off the body and proceeded to examine the condition of the veins, which I was in great fear had become agglutinated. As far as I could judge, though, the process of embalming had been perfect, even to empty the brain, heart and venous system of all fluids. What little blood remained I forced, as well as I could, by rubbing, into the cavity of the heart, tracing it in its passage, every few seconds, by sound, with the stethoscope. I then passed a fine steel tube, not larger than a hair, into the heart, and drew, by means of a little pump not bigger than a thimble, what had accumulated there. This was a very delicate operation, and it was successfully performed, and no air got in. This is the chief aim in venesection, to keep the blood from sucking in air, a single minute bubble of which will cause instantaneous paralysis of the heart. I now discovered by a neat little experiment whether the veins were open or not. I bound the leg tightly at the knee with a ligature, so that nothing could run below. I then passed one of my thistle injectors into the internal saphena, and forced in about sixteen ounces of the restoring elixer. In the course of half an hour, by careful manipulation, I had forced this fluid through the veins and was rewarded by finding it making its appearance in an artery below the puncture. This shows that everything was clear. Now, to get rid of the elixer, I forced in some 50 ounces of fresh, warm goat’s milk, drawing it off again, until sure that the body was saturated with the health-giving milk. This was with two objects, 1st to arrest and further corroding action of the elixer, and 2nd to soften the coats of the veins and arteries and open the mouths of the absorbents which line the veins. I now arranged the table as if for the purpose of making a living person comfortable. The body was insulated by being raised up by the glass standards. I had now my water heated, looked to my battery, and had everything in readiness. I now tied my sheep, and connected an artery from each, by means of a small rubber tube with a gold mouthpiece, to a lateral incision in the median basilic of each arm, allowing the blood to force out the milk, which has performed its office. The poor sheep soon were dead, and I attached two more in the same way, therefore I could be absolutely certain that pure blood filled all the veins. I kept the body at blood heat and by the tube of a thermometer read the changes. I now had the whole surface of the skin rubbed in warm oil and briskly removed it with flannel cloths, after which I applied a tincture of pure veratrine over the entire body (Note: Veratrine is a poisonous irritant extracted from the seeds of the sabadilla plant, which grows in Mexico and Central and South America. When applied to the skin it creates a sense of heat and tingling or prickling pain).  This peculiar substance has a wonderful effect on the nerves, and is probably the greatest known stimulant. The appearance of the body was something wonderful. The veins were all full of pure blood, the flesh was firm and elastic and had the ruddy, delicate glow of health, especially the cheeks, lips and finger-nails. Before I repeat the process of my wonderful electrical experiments, I must related to you my system, and wherein I consider the cause for my success over so many other experimenters. In my reasoning I take life and death as two opposites, hence if a person loses animation, it is by a certain succession of phenomena, which are invariably repeated in reversed order in regaining it. A man being paralyzed loses the power of motion before sense. So in fainting and dying. I went on the theory that if I restored life the patient would recover power of the sensory nerves before the motor, therefore I put a pressure on the brain at the seat of consciousness, to save any mental shock. In every detail I proposed to merely reverse the process of dying. Again, in regard to the electric fluid, I discarded, with a moment’s hesitation, any notion of using static electricity. To be sure, it is more powerful, but it performs all the motion itself, leaving the subject shattered in nerves and unfit for any other motive. At the time I was  highly in favor of a combination of a constant current (galvanic), to be supplanted by static shocks, but this I was induced to forego by means of a hint derived from Pereira, which I immediately enlarged upon (Note: Pereira, which means pear tree, is a very common Portugese surname and the name of towns in Brazil, Columbia and Portugal. To whom or what it refers to here is unknown). I imagine that in suspension of sensation only, the static centrifugal current would be beneficial. In the suspension of motion only, the constant centripetal galvanic current should be used. But in my case the patient was deprived of both sensation and motion. Hence I lit upon the vibrating current of Faradization, by which I alternately stimulated the sensitive and motor nerves.

“Laying the body on its belly, I firmly fixed one pole at the base of Poupart’s ligament, on the anterior part of the thigh. [Mind, I don’t say “positive’ or “negative pole, for by my “oscillator” the poses change some half dozen times in a second.] Now I made small incisions running up the spine from the lumbar vertebra to the base of the brain. As I took the electrode in my hand, I trembled exceedingly, so that after everything was prepared I was compelled to sit down for a time to compose myself. I used this time in getting ready my oxygen bag, at which I took a good breath now, to invigorate me. Mr. C. And the Dr. had to use the corkscrew at the vessel they drew their inspiration from. Now again I was firm. I motioned to the Doctor to turn the screw very gently, while I used my moistened hand as a precautionary electrode, passing it gently up and down the cerebro-spinal column, over the head, face, side and soles of the feet. By this means I could be sensible of the exact strength of the instrument, besides communicating a certain small degree of animal magnetism, carried over by the current. I noticed a slight, hardly perceptible twitching in the toes at first, but it occurred only once with the first current. I next electrified the “coccyx ganglia,” stopping again to sound the abdomen with the stethoscope (Note: the coccyx ganglia are an important collection of nerves in front of the coccyx or “tail bone).

“I was pleased to hear a sound which showed the fluid had affected the viscera. After the sacral ganglia I experimented slightly with all those of the thoracic cavity, and, as I expected, produced a perceptible action of the heart and lungs. Leaving these, which I had only tried in order to find out if there was any use in continuing the experiments to the end, I centered my attention on the brain. When I touched the ophthalmic, Dr. Lawyer, who manipulated the ophthalmoscope, said he distinctly saw a change in the iris, and a consequent movement of the retina (Note: the ophthalmic nerve is a major cranial nerve to the eyes) . I charged the “otic,” although of course I had no means of testing the result. When the “sphenopatatine,” or “Meckel’s ganglion” was touched, the tongue roughened up and the little salivary glands opened and shut their mouths as they do in mastication (Note: Meckel’s ganglion is a small parasympathetic ganglion giving off nerves to eyes, nose, and palate. It was first described by German anatomist Johann Friedrich Meckel, the Elder). In turn I touched the “submaxillary,” the gasserian of the wonderful 5th pair of nerves, and devoted much care to the pneumogastric and glossopharyngeal (Note: gasserian refers to a group of nerves first described by Austrian anatomist Johann Ludwig Gasser. Pneumogastric (lungs and stomach) and glossopharyngeal (tongue and pharynx) are major cranial nerves). I now doubled the power of my machine and touched first the “cardiac plexus” (Note: the cardiac plexus is a network of nerves around the base of the heart). My experiment was successful; the heart beat several strokes as distinctly as the tick of a clock. I was now hardly able to contain myself. The sweat stood cold all over my body, and my nerves throbbed in time to the oscillator of the battery. Indeed, I attributed much of the good effect on the patient to the immense amount of nervous power which I was generating, and which I could feel was being drawn from me. I had to work very rapidly, and after injecting a small quantity of the prepared chyle into the stomach, I doubled the working power of the battery again. At the faintest touch the muscles responded, twitching and acting like life; indeed, as the Doctor was using the instrument on the chest I happened to touch the shoulder of the body, when the arm contacted so suddenly as to hit my friend a smart rap on the head. I passed the current a third time to the “cardiac plexus,” and this time with the extra power it beat naturally. I now fixed a tube to the oxygen bag, and, bringing another electrode to bear, I had Mr. Collins hold on to the middle and superior ganglia of the sympathetic nerves, and, true to my design, we got breathing and beating of the heart at the same time. I now introduced a minute quantity of powdered veratrine into the upper chest, at the same time keeping up the artificial breathing and heart action. The result was absolutely startling; the lungs worked convulsively, heaved, and made efforts to expel the irritating substance by coughing. I was highly elated, as I was sure of having produced an effect on the sensory nerves, as well as the motor. “The time had come, I considered, for the removal of the pressure on the brain. This done, and the other muscular action being kept up, I could see that the eye was becoming sensitive to the light. A small vibrator being held to the ophthalmic center made the eyes wink. The face now began to become active, only it was odd to see the face laugh, and sobs come from the throat and vice versa. The whole body was in active play, and I introduced the oxygen blast into the lungs. I could count the pulse, which was getting regular. By a glass I found that vapor was becoming thrown off by the lungs, and by slightly increasing the temperature of the body I produced perspiration. The body was now essentially alive, but the moment I withdrew the electrode the moisture died away. From this I caught a hint which I was not slow in following. I re-attached the battery, and muscular action was renewed. I found that the brain was the place for most of my attention. After an hour or more of these interesting experiments, the patient was making blood of the food introduced into his stomach, and I began to very gradually withdraw the quantity of energy from the lower part of the body, and concentrated it upon the brain. Finally I caught a gleam of consciousness in the eyes, and felt my heart flutter with joy. Taking the electrode away as an inevitable thing, I found that the Aztec was absolutely alive. He went quietly to sleep, and, leaving Mr. C and the Doctor to take care that nothing happened adverse to his safety, I sunk into a stupor, brought on by my intense application.

Lr. Von Herbst”

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