For thousands of years, physicians thought that many illnesses could be cured by drawing blood from the patient.  The thought was that there were evil humours in blood and bleeding would release them.  Through the 1800s physicians carried special Lancets for the purpose of bleeding. 

It is part of history that George Washington fell ill after riding around his estate on a cold rainy winter day.  He had a cold that  probably got worse. His doctor bled him heavily and he died.  At the time you would bleed until the pressure dropped. In hindsight not a good thing for a senior suffering from possible pneumonia. Many historians believe that the bleeding is what killed him as he was robust the week before. 

In any event, I have read about this treatment in history books and thought it was something that was ancient like witchcraft.   Talking to mother this last trip I realized that it was not that distant.  She told the story that when she was living at home on the Tregarva  farm in the early 1930s, her father (my grandfather), had a stroke while sitting at the table.  It was winter and there was no such thing as an ambulance so they phoned their doctor in Lumsden.  He was going to travel to Regina anyway to attend a concert so agreed to drop in and see him on the way. 

The doctor said that a stroke is due to too much blood pressure so he took his lancet and bled him into a jar and then left.  This is in the 1930s and she said that they would not question the Doctor and thought it was normal.   Apparently small town doctors still believed in bleeding into the 20th century.   Now this treatment did not kill my grandfather, but it sure did not help. 

A weird bit of history.