When I come across words that I do not know, I flip out my trusty iPhone, navigate to the list that I have, and type it in. I don’t know a lot of words, so I am stressed by the back-up. Unless a word is interesting enough to jump to the front of my list, it lingers for several weeks. For example, I am only now getting to my Philadelphia trip.
What this means, is that the word pessary has been sitting quietly on my list for some time. Now that I’ve gotten to it, I’m thinking, “My God, I can’t do an entry about this.” A pessary is any one of a variety of objects that placed inside of the vagina or rectum, sometimes to cure an infection, sometimes as a contraceptive, sometimes as a way of keeping everything in place. One use of the word is synonymous with suppository.
What may this have to do with Philadelphia? you may be thinking. More likely, you’re thinking: Please, please, don’t tell us! Don’t worry; it’s not that bad. While there, I visited the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, otherwise known as the Mutter Museum, more informally called the museum of scientific oddities. In the days before the internet and television, the Mutter Museum served an important purpose. It became a place where physicians could go to learn about rare medical diseases and complications that they might possibly run across during their ministrations. Nowadays, it has become a stopping point for ghouls like myself who want to see Yang and Ang’s liver, Grover Cleavland’s jaw, and the largest colon in the United States.
The Mutter museum also holds of collection of over 250 pessaries. These were the kind that were inserted into a women vagina after particularly hard labor so as to keep the uterus from, well, falling out (at least falling out of place). A prolapsed womb, it was called. Some of them were stunningly decorated glass orbs, but that just seems like a bad idea to me. More information can be found on this tongue-in-cheek blog about Gimcrack hospital. The URL says it all.