The story of Charles Osborne, the man who had hiccups for 68 years straight
In 1922 Charles Osborne, a farmer in Iowa, began to hiccup and he didn’t stop for the next 68 years. No doctor was able to help him stop. Here’s his story…
It was a day like any other on his farm in Iowa that Charles Osborne was trying to hang a 300-pound pig on a hook for slaughter. You don’t have to be very familiar with agriculture to assume that swine of that size -or none of them, really- don’t usually like to be skewered to death. The animal kicked for its life, desperately trying to free itself from its fate. So intense was the struggle that the executioner ended up falling violently to the ground.
At first, the Osborne did not feel any noteworthy aftermath from the incident. At least until he got up. It was then that a nightmare that would last 68 years began. “Hip!” “Wow, I got the hiccups,” he must have thought. But the days, the weeks and the months followed one after another. And, methodical as the tic and toc of the clock, came the “Hip!” from the depths of his chest. This is a story of despair first and resignation later. A story about living life with the cards you’ve been dealt.
There is no doubt that, in the 1920s, as happy and crazy as they were, medicine was not yet at its peak. Medical negligence was routine, and doctors often employed cures that killed faster than diseases. Many of the medicines that are considered basic today were either unknown or not yet universally distributed. So it is not too strange that, no matter how much he searched here, there, beyond and back, the desperate Osborne could not find a single doctor who could manage to mitigate his ailment .
Hiding spasms for 68 years
To tell the truth, there was one who proposed a groundbreaking method. Drink oxygen and carbon monoxide. The only problem is, is that this treatment had a certain drawback. That he would probably die. So the Iowan was convinced. That the spasms were going to be, whether he liked it or not, his traveling companion for an indefinite period of time. But, as one gets used to everything, he ended up developing a skillful breathing technique that minimized the impact of the violent “Hip!”.
He suffered through the never-ending hiccups for almost seven decades. At the time of the accident, in 1922, the President of the United States was Warren G. Harding. The dry law was in force and there were still had eight years to go before there would be a World Cup. By the time the hiccups subsided, in 1990, the White House was inhabited by George H.W. Bush, the first Iraq War was about to break out and Germany was going to win its third world cup after an epic final against Maradona’s Argentina.
Life, in cahoots with death, sometimes displays a macabre sense of humor. For reasons still unknown today, this farmer stopped hiccuping one February morning. Just a few months later, he died. At least he had a brief respite. A goodbye to existence as it was before being cursed. More than a sense of humor, it seems that someone -or something- had a burst of compassion towards that poor man, who for 68 years walked the world hiding spasms.