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Post Info TOPIC: Is There a Doctor in the House?


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Date: Jun 19 5:08 PM, 2019
RE: Is There a Doctor in the House?
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Yes, I do think Elizabeth, like many of us, would have benefited from counseling, and Dwight was probably the only doctor who could have helped her. Without going off topic, Elizabeth was raised to be a Beauty and, like most Beauties of her time, to accept the adulation of men without returning affection. Had she been in London, like Caroline, she would have been besieged by admirers. Many of them would have wanted only to claim her virtue; she was raised to be aware of that. (Look how easily cavalier Hugh won Demelza's heart and virtue.) Although it's probably unfair to compare Mrs. Chynoweth to Miss Havisham, there are resemblances. Especially when she is gloating (my take) over Ross's loss of Elizabeth at the latter's wedding party. So--call me Dr. H--Elizabeth was used to men seeing her as a trophy and I think this partially led to her coldness. She was able to love her children unconditionally and I think this melted her shell a lot.

Although he was always aware of her beauty, Dwight would have seen past it and tried to help her face her issues. Particularly, that George was not worth the contents of that bottle. Had she consulted Dr. Enys beforehand, he would have tried to talk her out of swallowing that potion.

 



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Date: Jun 13 1:02 AM, 2019
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Hollyhock wrote:
Nope, Elizabeth should have gathered her wits, kicked George out of Trenwith, and gone to Dr. Enys for mental health counseling. But then we'd have a totally different story.

 Wait... mental health counseling for Elizabeth? Was she in need of it?



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Date: Jun 9 3:54 PM, 2019
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Blackleburr wrote:

Do you think there is anything Dr Anselm should/could have done differently?


 

Nope, Elizabeth should have gathered her wits, kicked George out of Trenwith, and gone to Dr. Enys for mental health counseling. But then we'd have a totally different story.



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Date: Jun 8 11:41 PM, 2019
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Hollyhock wrote:

Then there's Dr. Anselm and the little bottle of medicine he gave to Elizabeth for her predicament. She might have fared much better had she gone to the Widow Crow for one of the frog juice potions she sold Music Thomas.

(...)

[Ross] gave us another memorable quote when he was reminiscing about that ordeal. He told Demelza of his delight when he was finally allowed solid food again--a boiled egg that was like nectar. In the funny discussion that followed, Demelza concluded that Ross thought of her as his boiled egg. He said that instead of an egg she was his 'chicken...all fluffy and smooth and round.'

Hollyhock - That last quote of yours reminds me of another poultry-themed conversation Ross and Demelza had on the day of Henry's christening in The Miller's Dance. Demelza was signalling across the board to Ross that she's 'in the mood' and fully recovered from childbirth, which Ross purposely ignored for the sake of her health. Finally he concedes, putting his hand on her shoulder:

'Well, maybe I will consider you suitable when I can no longer discern that bone so plain.'

'D'you think I'm a goose hanging in a poulterer's?' she said. 'Because if I were ever to buy a goose, that's not the part I would feel.'

 

About Dr Anselm - I wonder. Clearly, he was dealing in a shady business (and wasn't formally trained as a doctor either). But within that trade, he did seem to know what he was doing better than many others (his reputation couldn't have come from nothing, after all). I believe Elizabeth could have fared much better simply by following his instructions to inform her doctor what she had taken. If instead she went with a potion from Widow Crow - you're right that it would be unlikely to kill her, but I think it would be equally unlikely to be able to help her convince George that all her children were born prematurely.

Do you think there is anything Dr Anselm should/could have done differently?

 



-- Edited by Blackleburr on Saturday 8th of June 2019 11:42:55 PM

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Date: Jun 5 5:02 PM, 2019
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Wonderful examples, especially Dr. Sylvane's diagnostic methods, ewww! Dwight was especially interested in mental illness. He visited several other facilities including Dr. Pinel's in France and Mr. Tuke's in York, and he wanted to open one in Cornwall.

Then there's Dr. Anselm and the little bottle of medicine he gave to Elizabeth for her predicament. She might have fared much better had she gone to the Widow Crow for one of the frog juice potions she sold Music Thomas.

Similarly, there were all those specialists who prescribed all those vile and toxic potions for Bella's throat.

Interesting that you mentioned Ross and his dizzy spells. What a difference between him and George--again. Looks like George never recovered from his karmic fall down that shaft. In contrast, we have Ross immediately running around doing all kinds of risky stuff, despite a concussion. He really needed rest and knew Dwight would have insisted on it. I wonder if even Dwight could have restrained him.

As you say, Ross did trust Dwight. When Dwight suggested he get a second opinion on Demelza's pregnancy with Henry, Ross said there was no doctor in England that he trusted more. But like you, I'm not sure he would have gone to Dwight for personal treatment (not unlike many men today). Do you think that, for himself, he believed that 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger'? Seemed so because he was rarely sick: the flu when he was a boy and again in TSFTS; his fever after TAT duel; and when he nearly lost his foot in the war. He gave us another memorable quote when he was reminiscing about that ordeal. He told Demelza of his delight when he was finally allowed solid food again--a boiled egg that was like nectar. In the funny discussion that followed, Demelza concluded that Ross thought of her as his boiled egg. He said that instead of an egg she was his 'chicken...all fluffy and smooth and round.'

 



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Date: Jun 4 8:22 PM, 2019
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A few more examples that came to my mind:
 
The tiny hospital in Bodmin, under the charge of a Dr Halliwell, which Dwight visited at the time of Ross's trial in Jeremy Poldark. Dwight was interested to find such a progressive establishment there, and wanted to see how it fared in comparison to the great hospitals he had seen as a student in London - only to find out "patients (who) were four in a bed, lying head to feet; and there did not seem to have been much attempt to sort them out according to their various infirmities." We are not told explicitly how this compared to London's standards, but - for what it's worth - Dwight did not seem exactly impressed...
 
Then, in Warleggan, there was a Dr Matthew Sylvane of Penryn who attended Ray Penvenen - and whose hard work of ten weeks, examining his patient's stools and checking the taste of his urine, went pretty much for nothing when Dwight was called in for second opinion and immediately diagnosed diabetes.
 

Also in Warleggan, when Caroline was fretting over her unhappy ending with Dwight, she told Ross of the following treatment she was prescribed: "The apothecary tells me I must have sherry every two hours, and I dont find it an unpleasurable remedy." That feels almost like an 18th century equivalent of wine+Netflix - imagine getting that on prescription

 
Hollyhock - you mention several characters who expressed their distrust of doctors - and I wonder, what exactly Ross's view was? On one hand, he clearly disliked Dr Choake as a person - but on the other he insisted on hiring him when Julia was born, and again when Clowance was coming - even though Demelza had a strong preference for just Mrs Zacky. On one hand, he admired Dwight's skills as a doctor - but on the other, I don't think he would ever send for any doctor for his own health's sake. Isn't it telling that although Dwight is attending on Ross quite a few times throughout the books, it is always because he either just happens to be around or is called in by someone else, not by any bidding on Ross's part? And still, after 12 books and all this experience, when Dwight was sorting the injuries Ross suffered in the fire of Place House fire, Ross didn't see fit to give his doctor (and best friend) all the information: "The concussion had left him with occasional dizzy spells, but he had been careful not to tell Dwight about them." Go figure.


-- Edited by Blackleburr on Wednesday 5th of June 2019 12:46:28 AM

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Date: May 31 3:50 PM, 2019
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Little Henry, if on nothing else, Elizabeth and Demelza shared feelings about inoculations. In The Black Moon, Demelza was afraid to let Choake inoculate Jeremy because she knew he "always cut the patient's arm to the bone."

Choake was not the most pompous doctor in the district. Behenna was arrogant and dangerously egotistical. His 'cure' for little Valentine's rickets in TBM was brutal, if not homicidal. (No wonder Valentine was warped; he had a horrible childhood!) When his parents finally called in mine surgeon Pryce of Redruth, the disorder was treated effectively and humanely. This appears to be the same Dr. Pryce that Joshua considered consulting in the Prologue.

In the 30-year interval between Demelza, Julia, and Bella contracting the morbid sore throat, treatment did not significantly change. We learn that the French had started calling the disease diphtheritis. However, it does seem that tracheotomy had been introduced as a last resort. Ross is relieved that Bella survives her crisis without Dwight having to 'use his instrument.' Devoted Jane Gimlett was nurse on both occasions. Shut up in the sick rooms, she was lucky to have escaped infection--twice.

 



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Date: May 30 11:54 PM, 2019
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I'm just reading in my Ward Lock "Demelza" where Dwight is first introduced at Julia's christening party.  Dwight and Elizabeth are discussing the smallpox inoculation and she wonders if it is injurious to a young child.  Dwight replies that not if it is carefully done but that she shouldn't "employ a farmer to give the cow-pox".  Inoculation comes up several times in the books and also vaccination which was introduced in 1798.  Elizabeth mentions that they are lucky to have a good surgeon in the district and she must mean Dr. Choake so I guess his position was respected by some. 

Just as an aside, there are two lines omitted in the edited version which reflect the feelings of mothers then and now:  Elizabeth says "But I hate the thought of little Geoffrey suffering the pain."  "What pain, Mummy?" asked Geoffrey, docile under her hand.



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Date: May 28 2:16 PM, 2019
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In the Prologue, Joshua reflects that he has no faith in doctors. (I wonder what it was that killed him?) Later, Mr. Treneglos tells Ross that he mistrusts doctors and instead relies on rhubarb.

WG's descriptions of diseases and doctors' remedies make this widely held mistrust understandable. Many of the practices of the era were dangerous, like Dr. Choake's addiction to the common practice of bloodletting. He nearly killed Elizabeth through his incessant bleeding of her after GC's birth. I'm sure many people were killed by the procedure. I also wonder how many infectious diseases were spread by doctors not washing their hands between patients. Of course, many of today's practices will be dismissed as barbaric in the future.

What a wonderful thing it was that Ross befriended and encouraged the young Dr. Enys. WG funneled many of the era's most wholesome ideas about healthcare through Dwight. He believed in the benefits of fresh air, exercise, fresh fruit and vegetables. But above all, he believed in the power of the mind to heal the body.

As he usually did, WG added authenticity by interspersing his medical stories with historical facts and figures. When Andrew Blamey suffered from heart disease, he was much improved by digitalis--the drug Dr. William Withering popularized. Details of Stephen Carrington's back injury and decline made for very uncomfortable but fascinating reading. When the confident Dr. Mather consulted with Dwight about Stephen's diagnosis, he congratulated Dwight on having an article published in the Edinburgh Medical & Surgical Journal. (I checked the journal's issues online but couldn't find the article smile.)

Dwight's holistic approach to healthcare earned him the distinction of being one of the most enlightened doctors of his time. Not only was he respected and trusted locally, he gained national recognition and was even asked to consult on the king's illness--and made a brilliant diagnosis. He didn't often err but one of the few times he did was hilarious--when he misdiagnosed Katie's false pregnancy.

I don't recall them all but WG enlivened the saga with descriptions of doctors and apothecaries and their weird and sometimes deadly treatments. Additions?



-- Edited by Hollyhock on Tuesday 28th of May 2019 02:22:34 PM

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