Wednesday, July 20, 2011

an old malaise that still plagues even we commoners

In mediaeval times, one of the most common treatments for head pain was blood letting. The surgeon would figure out which of the humours were affecting the body and make an incision in that quarter, collect blood, study it (including smelling it) and make a diagnosis. Using the treatment was a regular session of bloodletting until the patient felt well.

Why did this work? It is thought that, most commonly because of poor diet and, yes! Stress, the patient suffered from hypertension - high blood pressure. Sometimes an infection or a cold could raise the blood pressure as well. By 'letting out blood' ie bloodloss, the blood pressure went down (just like in all the ER type tv programmes -;he's lost a lot of blood - his bp's dropping....!

So, bloodletting was a very common and, it seemed, usually 60% successful.

Why do I mention this bit of ancient medical trivia? Well, all my life (including two pregnancies) I've had very healthy blood pressure - even when I have a BMI of 44 so, after two weeks of struggling with flu like systems and a headache that just wouldn't go away, I got a check up.

My blood pressure was 145/120! My doctor is a very understated calm person but he was not happy. Go home and rest - now! Thankfully, it was only two days to the school holidays but he duly sent around the district nurse who has been checking it three times a day and I've have to take some pills which make me very sleepy.

After two days, it still hadn't come down and we figured out the problem - my teenagers treating mum like they always do - slave. Tonight there was a blood letting of sort when she stared the family around the table and told them in no uncertain terms that if they did not allow their mother complete bed rest as well as absence of typical teenage demands, I may end up in hospital.

But, I feel a lot like Rachel does in Birthright – it’s so frustrating doing nothing!!

Chipping away on my laptop in between snoozes and dvds though.


jtwebster books said...

Not good to hear you are unwell, Tania. I hope you're getting the rest you need and things are improving.
Leeches: I just read a post on the Virtual Victorian blog. It seems they were still gleefully bloodletting right up into the nineteenth century! Of course they've made a come-back with skin grafts etc.too. Apparently they can live a whole year without feeding. And there is of course the things they can do with maggotts. Yeuch!
:) Get well soon!

Anonymous said...

bloodletting continued way beyond the middle ages - there were even some Victorians who swore by it! Perhaps it lives on today in its modern guise of self-harm. Answers to a basic human need.

Pen said...

Rest up and get better soon. Hope those kids of your are salving FOR you now.

TK Roxborogh said...

Thanks for your good wishes. Funny how things that can happen to the author seep into the frustrations for the characters. I feel like I have Rachel in my living room telling me to REST and I'm going but I have to....

Feeling a lot better. BP has been normal now since Friday morning but I have been told in no uncertain terms that my condition is stress induced after being sick with the flu for so long. Hooray it is holidays. Currently snowing. Fire roaring in the hearth and I'm avoiding Scotland while I try to solve Sat's cryptic crossword.

@anonymous: I haven't gone anywhere near the leeches in the series because I can not yet find evidence they were in that area of Britain - too cold?

@JT: The maggots is a good one - excellent for getting rid of rotton/dead flesh which could cause all sort of other problems