the bends

From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Bend \Bend\, n. [See Bend, v. t., and cf. Bent, n.]
   1. A turn or deflection from a straight line or from the
      proper direction or normal position; a curve; a crook; as,
      a slight bend of the body; a bend in a road.
      [1913 Webster]

   2. Turn; purpose; inclination; ends. [Obs.]
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            Farewell, poor swain; thou art not for my bend.
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   3. (Naut.) A knot by which one rope is fastened to another or
      to an anchor, spar, or post. --Totten.
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   4. (Leather Trade) The best quality of sole leather; a butt.
      See Butt.
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   5. (Mining) Hard, indurated clay; bind.
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   6. pl. (Med.) same as caisson disease. Usually referred to
      as the bends.
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   Bends of a ship, the thickest and strongest planks in her
      sides, more generally called wales. They have the beams,
      knees, and foothooks bolted to them. Also, the frames or
      ribs that form the ship's body from the keel to the top of
      the sides; as, the midship bend.
      [1913 Webster]

From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Caisson disease \Cais"son dis*ease"\ (Med.)
   A disease frequently induced by remaining for some time in an
   atmosphere of high pressure, as in caissons, diving bells,
   etc. It is characterized by neuralgic pains and paralytic
   symptoms. It is caused by the release of bubbles of gas,
   usually nitrogen, from bodily fluids into the blood and
   tissues, when a person, having been in an environment with
   high air pressure, moves to a lower pressure environment too
   rapidly for the excess dissolved gases to be released through
   normal breathing. It may be fatal, but can be reversed or
   alleviated by returning the affected person to a high air
   pressure, and then gradually decreasing the pressure to allow
   the gases to be released from the body fluids. It is a danger
   well known to divers. It is also called the bends and
   decompression sickness. It can be prevented in divers by a
   slow return to normal pressure, or by using a breathing
   mixture of oxygen combined with a gas having low solubility
   in water, such as helium.
   [Webster 1913 Suppl. +PJC]
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