Monday, October 24, 2011

Gunfighters don't charge by the bullet

Sometimes you have to just suck it up and bite the bullet.  Of course, you may get lead poisoning in the process. 

Symptoms include: High blood pressure, decline in mental functioning, muscular weakness, headache, memory loss, and mood disorders

But seriously . . . not that lead poisoning isn’t serious . . . did you ever ponder where the phrase ‘bite the bullet’ comes from?  Believe it or not, it quite literally comes from the act of biting a bullet.   Again, with the lead poisoning . . . it’s inescapable.

Biting the bullet may have actually been a cure for lead poisoning  . . . a direct and painful dose of it. 

The phrase dates back to the early 1800’s.  During warfare when time was short or anesthesia was unavailable, field doctors would shove a lead bullet between the teeth of their patient’s teeth and advise them to bite down on it.  It would distract the patient from the pain associated with the extrication of said source of lead poisoning or whatever procedure they had to endure.  I can’t imagine that biting on a bullet would be enough to keep someone from feeling a doctor digging for a slug buried in the flesh or sawing through bone . . . so, maybe it also kept them from screaming so as to not to disrupt the surgeon and his task. 

Also, the lead was somewhat pliable which would keep the patient’s teeth from breaking while biting. 

If you’re thinking one could get lead poisoning from biting the bullet, it’s true.  But what’s worse?  Dying of a gunshot wound or gangrene or suffering from a little forgetfulness and a headache?

Suck it up, buttercup!

No comments:

Post a Comment