Tonic № oo4: Milk Punch for Circulatory Complaints

r. Hurley frequently treated patients from all of Europe at his spa in Ireland.  Its proximity to Northern Europe and relatively mild climate made it a favorite among German health-seekers.  Many of them complained of a disturbance of the circulatory system – Kreislaufstörung – which was something of a catch-all diagnosis for headaches, heart palpitations, anxiety, and general malaise.

Dr. Hurley’s treatment for this complaint was, we believe, a tonic similar to the milk punch celebrated by Benjamin Franklin in the early days of the United States, pink in color, and mild in taste.  It seems in keeping with the doctor’s sense of humor and distaste for excess earnestness that his concoction featured an infusion of blood oranges to help cure this alleged circulatory disorder.  This particular tonic is said to bring a flush to the cheeks and a warmth to the stomach, signaling the restoration of proper circulation.  A mild infusion of spices is also said to have been used to reinvigorate the patient as well as bring to mind pleasant memories.

While we have not yet uncovered the Doctor’s own recipe for this tonic, we believe it is similar to a modern preparation of milk punch, and probably most closely resembles this recipe published by one Darby O’Shea.  Perhaps she is descended from a former patient of the Doctor’s?

Song of My Cells

I am become life—creator of worlds: beginning as a tube within a tube.

I am blood; I am bile; I am phlegm; I am gall—

secreted; emulsifying, absorbing, metabolizing.

I have no control over the cataract flowing within me.

EPINEPH-RINE—my fight or flight, Adrenaline, would I have guessed my savior,

my liquid guardian

angel, can come from a packet of “Sweet and Low”?

Check yourself, if you don’t believe me.

While tiny ladders of sugar and nitrogen unzip, split, replicate forming my

blueprint—this only takes

half-n-hour. I hope no mistakes are made.

While gases diffuse through the thin walls into my-life blood and

a thick chunk of muscle pushes it through the rest of me

Gravity helps some, hurts some, but my pipes have to do the rest

While little fission bombs of Adenosine detonate,

they then disperse the shrapnel of Phosphates

Mean time, Minerals, opposing and flipping, run down my power lines

I feel thoughts and movements conducting across the thin sheets;

sparks that jump across the nodes of Raviener

Open the floodgates! The system of pulleys and levers begins to move; the simple


Become complex.


I’m running out of breath here…

What a piece of work is this machine—how noble in reason—how infinite in

resource and plasticity—

how like a God?

Wait, that’s not right.

Things fall apart and systems fail. Pressure rises, blood clots and plaques,

replication undifferentiates,

then various things are spurring, embolizing, aneurising, collapsing,

ischemtizing. I am now

described with words like edematous and crepetant and stenotic .

The men in white do their best: beta-blocking, pharming, imaging, thinning, and


and cutting, and stinting…and then defibrillating…and then failing…

And then—