Chimney Sweep's Scrotum: 10 Bizarre Job-Related Illnesses
Not everyone can live the life of an Internet comedy writer, sipping on Thunderbird and eating real Kraft macaroni and cheese (not that knock off shit the peasants eat). As we understand it some people out there have thankless jobs that are not only devoid of riches and glamour, but actually can cause you harm.
Horrifying, strangely specific harm.
Chimney Sweep's Scrotum Cancer
Back in Victorian times, part of the chimney sweep job description was to go naked into the smaller chimneys because for some reason cleaning out caked on carcinogens whilst fully clothed just wasn't funny or sadistic enough for Victorian sensibilities. There was no higher form of entertainment back then than a decrepit, cancer-ridden chimney sweep with an ass crack Spackled shut with decades-old soot.
Unfortunately for the chimney sweep, a lifetime of this kind of work lead to chimney sweep's cancer, or Cancer Scroti, because any disease that happens to your scrotum is just that much more depressing. Malignant sores referred to as "soot wart" would appear, and then spread like a tiny, crusty army. At first it was thought to be a venereal disease, as chimney sweeps were apparently known for being sooty gigolos, but eventually it was diagnosed as the first occupational cancer.
This is your scrotum on soot. Any questions?
Seeing as this took place in an age when medicine hadn't graduated much beyond putting leeches on stab wounds and drinking tea to overcome broken limbs the cure was to cut off the "affected portions". Surprisingly the cure almost never worked, and the newly sackless sweeps would invariably die of some form of internal cancer. It does explain why those lovable Cockney chimney sweeps in Mary Poppins sang such a sweet soprano, though.
Ah, bagpipes; the beloved sound of Scotland and aquatic mammals in labor. Potentially one of the oldest instruments in existence that, after nearly 3,000 years of evolution, is still less appealing than a bag of smashed assholes. It doesn't help that the pipes are also home to a far more insidious villain than just the sound they make.
Bagpipes are made of sheepskin traditionally coated in treacle or honey on the lining to keep it airtight. The inside is sticky, dark and damp, much like the insides of the Scots who make them, making it a breeding ground for such wee beasties as spores and fungus, including Aspergillum and Cryptococcus.
Needless to say the pipers end up breathing those bacteria in and falling prey to illnesses like pneumonia, respiratory infections and an undiagnosed mental disorder that makes them want to continue playing the bagpipes.
Cheese Washer's Lung
We had no idea cheese washer was even a career option (probably an oversight thanks to a drunken high school guidance counselor who only recommended haberdasher or whore), but apparently it's someone's job to buff and shine the Gouda before it hits the shelves.
While it seems a simple enough task, grab a shamwow and spit polish a few wedges, it's sadly not all glamorous cheese rubbing. With every breath you take, you could be sucking layer after layer of dairy drenched bacteria into your lungs, putting your immune system into overdrive and making your insides spongy and disgusting like aerosol Easy Cheese.
In time, your body will begin to ache and grow feverish, along with developing a shortness of breath. Given enough time, you will likely suffer weight loss and lung scarring and if it's chronic you'll be saddled with interstitial inflammation and alveolar destruction. We don't even know what that means but it sounds like the most hardcore thing that'll ever happen to a cheese washer.
Up to their elbows in prime rib, chicken breasts and pig sphincter, butchers are the unsung hero of every barbeque and bris. Besides enjoying a workplace that's typically bathed in blood and gore, butchers are subject to their own special malady, Butcher's warts, which are a variation of the Human Papillomavirus.
Modern medicine is still not sure why, but something about covering your hands in raw, room temperature animal offal makes human skin a haven for the viruses that cause warts. Not just common warts either, but cauliflower-like lesions which is a fancy way of saying they resemble the crotches of whores who work for coupons instead of cash.
Our boss wouldn't let us include a picture of a whore crotch. And we had so many good ones, too.
These commonly appear on the hands of the butcher who is currently rubbing them all over your T-bone. Sure you don't want to give the tofu another try?
Wool Sorter's Disease
As the name suggests, this condition usually afflicts those working with wool, like sheep shearers. What the name doesn't suggest is just how bad this disease actually is. The more common name is anthrax. Actual, terrifyingly awful anthrax. The stuff the terrorists were threatening to send around. Fucking sheep.
So say you're busy shaving and/or wrestling your favorite sheep one evening and everything seems kosher until you start feeling a little off. At first you think you're coming down with a cold or flu, but within a day or two your lymph nodes will start rotting and bleeding , you can contract meningitis, high fever, and severe abdominal pain before finally suffering a fatal respiratory collapse all from breathing in the bacteria hidden in sheep's wool.
Even when caught early, the mortality rate is nearly 100 percent. Fucking sheep.
Likely when you think of a violinist you think of an orchestra, a bunch of people in tuxedos and how god awfully bored you'd be if you were sitting there watching a dude who likely has five cats playing violin for a couple of hours. Well, now you can add a new image to that picture in your mind: hideous growths.
The pressure of holding the violin against your neck leads to Fiddler's Neck, a skin condition complete with scarring, cysts, and pustules. Play the violin long enough, and you can add hyperpigmentation and lichenification to the list.
So not only will you have a prolapsed anus growing out of your neck, but the skin will grow darker, bark-like and as thick as a lizard's hide, only not as pretty. Part of the cause of Fiddler's Neck has been attributed to poor hygiene, indicating what we always suspected; musicians are filthy.
Horn Player's Palsy
Known by those medical types as "embouchure focal dystonia," Horn Player's palsy is when your facial muscles go all gimpy and leave you looking like you're constantly reacting to nude photos of your grandparents.
The high pressures created by the act of playing the horn, the vibration and the demands placed on the muscles can result in a general weakening and involuntary contraction of the facial muscles. The root cause is thought to be a misfiring of neurons in your brain, meaning playing brass instruments can actually cause brain damage. It can cause the facial nerves to become inflamed, leading to facial paralysis. This in turn may cause you to look like Droopy Dog.
According to the fairy tales, cobblers were good-hearted shoemakers who were often visited by tiny elves who didn't believe in unions, wages or an eight hour work day and we're happy to spend all night doing the lazy ass cobbler's work for him.
In reality, cobbler's didn't even have midget porn to fall back on let alone magic elves and spent most of their days hunched over in a chair, stitching and shaping leather and then hammering soles onto their creations, likely cursing the whole shoe-wearing world at the same time.
Since they often used their thighs as support beneath the shoe as it was being made, the result was a large, horrifying bony growth on the femur from all those years of pounding away on shoes. Use your leg as an anvil, and your body will start turning it into one.
It looks like this condition vanished over time when some revolutionary cobblers finally figured out you can hammer shit on these things called "tables" instead of smashing it into your own body several hundred times a day.
Roses are the symbol of romance, seduction and bartering for sexual favors. It turns out they also are a source of Sporothrix Schenckii, a fungus that can kill you. If it enters through small cuts and abrasions, like the ones conveniently provided by the rose's thorns, it causes bumps and lesions at the point of entry, and along all the lymph nodes it crosses paths with. Left untreated, the lesions become larger and look similar to a boil, and eventually become chronic, weeping ulcers. The only thing sexier than a bouquet of roses is one handed over by a guy who has sores leaking all over the place.
If leaking thorn holes aren't your thing, the spores can be inhaled, which leads to symptoms like coughing, holes in the lungs and potentially tuberculosis because if a rose has to take you down, it's manly to go out spitting up blood and lung chunk.
Left untreated the infection can spread to joints and bones as well as the central nervous system and the brain. If this happens you can add weight loss, anorexia and bony lesions to the list of symptoms. Next time your girl asks for roses, show her this article.
Miner's Anemia (Ankylostomiasis)
You probably already suspected that coal mining sucked as a job. A miner's job is short on sunlight and long on breathing in dust and crawling through cramped, wet spaces with thousands of tons of earth and rock waiting to cave in on you at any minute. But here's another nice little fringe benefit: Miner's Anemia.
It's caused by massive infestations of hookworms, infestations so large they actually end up consuming most of your red blood cells. It leaves your body depleted and anemic while the parasites gorge like tourists at a 99 cent colon buffet in Vegas.
So why has this happened to miners? Well, mines are big, dark and damp, and toilets hard to come by. Since diarrhea is another symptom, workers would often have to stop and drop one in the massive networks of tunnels where their unfortunate coworkers were likely to stumble through it shortly thereafter.
Poor lighting and worn-out shoes provided the hookworm larvae a chance to transfer to a new host, burrowing into the skin of the miner's feet and tunneling through to the miner's intestinal tract where they'd latch on and feast until they got shat out for the next miner to pick up, completing the shit-worm circle of life.
And check out our Top Picks for the work-specific illness the employees at Cracked like to call "Boobitis."