Sunday, October 2, 2011

Speaking of Small Pox...

Alex and I have been watching a TV miniseries called "John Adams," that aired some long time ago.  Great show, very interesting to see the dramatization of the events that brought about the autonomy of our country.  They show the political debates that the colonies went through at that time.  It's a miracle that they were ever able to get a unanimous vote, (or 12 of the 13 colonies to all vote for independence; NY abstained in case you don't remember.)

Anyway, they showed the the small pox that was running rampant throughout the continental army and Abigail Adams' concern that they might contract the deadly disease.  What a horrible, terrifying disease that was.  I guess I always imagined the small pox as something similar to the chicken pox, only deadlier.  Oh, no!  There was nothing "small" about these pox.  No mild little red spots like the chicken pox, but terrible scarring huge pockets of puss everywhere, just like a really ugly winter squash.  I can't even imagine having to nurse my own child in such a condition without completely breaking down.  Thank Heaven above that that horrible disease has been eradicated!

So yeah, it was a very small part of the show, but the image of how they "inoculated" Abigail and her children against the disease still amazes me.  The doctor seriously just made a cut in her arm and then shoved into her a wad of puss that he had extracted from one of the huge pox on the man in the cart outside dead of the disease.  Well, of course they're all going to get sick from that!  And although I read that it was still a legitimate way to avoid contracting the disease; I don't understand how that can be any better than just hanging out with the diseased people and contracting it that way.  It was no weakened strain of the disease, but the full blown, active killer that he shoved into their bodies.  It just seamed so barbaric.

I'm very very very grateful for modern medicine!  And yet I wonder what we do today that people will think of as barbaric a couple hundred years from now.

No comments: