Monday, September 29, 2014

A physican reports in autumn 1810

Monday, September 29, 2014

George Cruikshank, The Head-ache
Loretta reports:

I have, undoubtedly, an unhealthy fascination with medical practices of the past.  My not so hidden agenda is the certainty that whatever we think now is true, won’t be true in the next generation—or possibly next week—as reading about 19th C "cures" for cholera or typhus or tuberculosis or rabies has demonstrated.  Remember when peptic ulcers were supposed to result from stress?  And now it’s ... bacteria?  As a migraine sufferer, I’ve directly experienced the change in attitudes about the ailment and treatments for it.

Medical report 1810 at source
Medical report 1810 at source             

But beyond the morbid fascination with what was sickening and killing people once upon a time, I find the medical reports interesting for literary and philosophical reasons.  Note the dramatic style describing a fevered patient.  And also, please don’t skip the concluding lines.

George Cruikshank image courtesy Wikipedia.
Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  Clicking on the captions will allow you to read at the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.


Sarah said...

sometimes I feel like that nowadays, that one sometimes gets better despite the doctors... I have been doing research in the newspaper archive, and something I noted in passing was the death of a daughter of an Earl no less of scarlet fever, which as the disease features in my WIP was interesting that even the wealthy were not automatically likely to recover from something which we think of as a childish ailmant....

Nancy said...

The Bills of Mortality list some odd afflictions from which people died.
I have a medical book of the 1820's as well as a copy of a book to be used by apothecaries discussing how various medicines were compounded. Quite a few of the medicines contain substances we know are toxic.
The medical journals of the time are also interesting. One article discusses how to best amputate a limb. Speed is of the essence but bone is not an easy substance to cut. One couldn't just saw through where a severe break occurred because one had to eliminate the jagged ends.
I am not surprised so many people died. The surprise , over the centuries, is that so many people survived.

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