This month I’m participating in the Unleash Your Story Challenge. Unleash Your Story is an effort by the authors of Romance Unleashed to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. This is a writing challenge. I’ve pledged to write at least 20,000 words this month of September and to raise $150. But I can’t do this alone. I need your help. If you think you can donate even a small amount, just click on this icon and click on the donation button.
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Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. It affects about 30,000 children and adults in the U.S. and 70,000 worldwide. A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections. The disease was defined in the 1930s but elements of the disease were known even in the 1700s.
There was an 18th century German saying that associated the salt loss in CF with a child’s early death: “Woe is the child kissed on the brow who tastes salty, for he is cursed and soon must die.”
A Regency child would have died in infancy.
Medical knowledge was limited during the Regency. Louis Pasteur had yet to discover pasteurization. There was no knowledge of germs or anticeptic. Nitrous Oxide as anesthetic was just first used. Vaccination was a new concept; the vaccination of smallpox using puss from cowpox had just been introduced by Edward Jenner (Although Lady Mary Wortley Montequ brought a version of smallpox vaccine from Turkey in 1721). The stethescope was just invented in 1816, and the first blood transfusion was accomplished in 1818.
In the first part of the nineteenth century life expectancy in the UK was age 37 compared to 80 today. For a child with Cystic Fibrosis the life expectancy was only age 4 in the 1960s. Today it is 40 years.
On January 4, 2007 the Riskies interviewed Wet Noodle Posse member Colleen Gleason, author of the Gardella Vampire series (Colleen’s 4th Gardella book, When Twilight Burns, was released August 2008). Colleen’s ten year old son has Cystic Fibrosis. So this challenge isn’t only important, it’s personal.
Share your knowledge of Regency medicine. What surprises you most of what they did or did not know about illness or the human body?
Come to see what is new on my website, to be updated tomorrow!