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Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Kaiser's Gentlemanly Kindness

As someone who firmly believes that Kaiser Wilhelm has been shockingly defamed by many historians, I was delighted to come across this rather touching story today:


In that dreadful war where atrocities were committed by both sides, it is good to remember that 'history is written by the victors', and the Germans frequently showed more humanity than the British (and I write this as someone who is proud to be English!).

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Carrots, Apples & Puerperal Fever

Researching my forthcoming biography of Princess Alice, I came across some interesting and rather sad accounts of the ‘Laying-In Hospitals’, ostensibly founded to combat the high infant mortality rates and deaths in childbirth in the 19th century. In fact, many of these places were founded to enable medics to further their research into obstetrics and particularly to practise using forceps, using their patients as guinea pigs. Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, due to their unhygienic practices, puerperal fever spread rapidly and the number of women dying in childbirth significantly increased with the founding of laying-in hospitals, while mothers who remained at home to give birth, rarely contracted the fever, which had throughout the ages killed off so many wealthy women who could afford medical treatment that it had become known as ‘the doctors’ plague’.

In the late 1920s my grandmother contracted puerperal fever and, as she lay in her hospital bed, she heard the doctors at the other side of the curtains discussing her treatment. Somehow the infection had affected her legs and the doctors decided that the only solution was a double amputation, which, naturally came as a terrible shock to my grandmother. Being a woman of some spirit, she refused to accept this solution and, as soon as the doctors had gone, she jumped out of bed and ran home! The illness was horrific. All her hair fell out and her life was seriously in danger until a wise old neighbour with no medical training whatsoever told her to eat nothing but carrots and apples – which is exactly what she did for several weeks (or possibly months). “Bags full of apples and carrots!” she said. Her hair grew back more beautifully than ever, and she lived for a further seventy years (dying at the age of 98) walking about quite happily on both legs and relieved that she hadn’t accepted the advice of the doctors.

Very recently, I heard of a woman who refused all medical treatment for breast cancer but cured herself completely by avoiding dairy and eating carrots and apples. Chopping off body parts or zapping with dangerous chemicals might be one way to deal with health issues but perhaps it is worth remembering that there might also be far simpler and more effective and gentle solutions to many of the conditions that afflict so many people today. Nature is filled with antidotes, just as dock leaves grow next to nettles (but these natural antidotes provide little profit for pharmaceutical companies, which thrive on illness, unless, of course, they intervene by genetically modifying crops), and, in the overall scheme of things, it seems the natural world is designed to help us to thrive...