Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Epilepsy in the 19th Century

Epilepsy in the 19th Century

Medicine and diagnosing illnesses has come a long way since the 19th century. For example, seizures and epilepsy. Before people and even the medical world were able to understand this disease, those with epilepsy were considered to be possessed by demons. Not just here in America, but as far away as China, Rome and other far away lands considered seizures were a demonic evil. It wasn't unusual for a patient to be taken to a lunatic asylum and left there in isolation, without treatment. 

Another interesting fact is in medieval times folks believed that witches caused epilepsy, but they also thought seizures were a sign someone was a witch. Whether an epileptic was born in those times or during the 19th century, the branding of seizures almost always guaranteed a lack of treatment and even in some cases death for those struggling with this disease.

One way to solve the problem in the 19th century, was to establish colonies for those with seizures and most of the time treatment never happened. 

During the mid 1800's, when research was done by Sir Charles Locock, he introduced a drug called bromides to calm the epileptic seizures. At that time the side effects were unknown. In my story, A Doctor's Devotion, the heroine had been called a witch in her hometown, so her parents sent her away for her own safety in the dead of night as they feared for her life. 

Later, she married a doctor from a small western town but hid her seizures until she was no longer able to. After serious research and a determination to help her, her husband took her to Philadelphia, where he attended medical school, to consult with specialists to find a cure. If you read the book, you'll get a taste of how a young woman with epilepsy deals with her disease in the 1800's and how the hope for a normal life can exist with the right treatment. 

I knew in passing that during the time period of the 1800's, certain diseases and sicknesses were left untreated, poorly diagnosed and those who had the diseases were left helpless and hopeless. I had no idea of the pain and suffering some of these people went through. This story was one that had to be told.

Get your copy of A Doctor's Devotion here.

1 comment:

  1. this is very interesting. thanks for sharing. 50 years ago at the age of 13 i got this very thing. drs. at the time had very little idea on how to treat me. so i had grand-malls and petite-malls until i was out of my teens and my body stopped doing massive hormonal changes. thankfully my parents were able to find a doctor that was good and he was able to get a QEEG which went deeper into the brain and got wonderful pictures of where the problematic areas where. from this they where able to guesstimate how it started. really cool. i still have epilepsy today but it has been under control for years now. quilting dash lady at comcast dot net