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Plague Doctor Journal

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Mats Manallack

on 23 March 2011

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Transcript of Plague Doctor Journal

Plague Doctor Journal I started off the day by putting on my mask, leather gown and leather gloves to protect myself from the plague then left to treat my patient. I walked along the dark, dirty paths filled with rotten food and human waste, to my patient. I carefully avoided groups of rats, despite my leather gown, as I had a theory that fleas on the rats spread the disease. I entered his home and saw him through my mask, lying on a bed, his family surrounding him. I could see no physical problems with him but he claimed to have a terrible headache. I treated this with some lavender and sage. I couldn’t tell whether the headache was a symptom of the plague or not. The plague, so far, hasn’t affected this town much: only a small number of people have died, but to date, I have only treated minor situations of the plague. Today, I treated one more patient, not far from the first. The house of the patient’s had a large red cross painted on the door, meaning that the people inside have the plague. This patient was a small boy was coughing very deeply and occasionally coughing up blood. I have seen this many times before. Unfortunately, the boy’s family had been exposed to his coughing and inhaled his germs. They would all eventually have the plague. I treated it, told him to go to bed and then went back home. Day 2 Day 1 I started my day the same as the last. I walked to my next patient along the dirty paths, strewn with waste. In the wide roads, I saw a number of people lying still, not moving. I avoided them carefully, not wanting to catch the disease myself. Others sat slumped against walls, pleading for my help. I tried to not listen to them but I couldn’t help feel pity for them. My patient was the same as the first I treated yesterday. I hoped that his condition had improved although it was much worse. His family too had caught the disease and all had severe nausea. Worse was the man I treated the other day. He had a small number of bright, red buboes on his neck and under his arms. It looked horrible. I had never treated something so serious before this before. I had received a letter this morning from a friend who lived in another town and was also a doctor. He told me of how bad the situation of the, “Black Death” as he called it, was. A treatment for the boils he said was to drink a glass of your own urine. I was wary about this treatment but it I tried it anyway. I wished that he become better and then I left for another day. Day 3 On my way to my first patient, the first thing that I noticed was the paths seemed to slightly cleaner. I later found out that it was an attempt to stop the plague being spread to people. If the place is cleaner it means fewer rats, so less plague. I think it is a very good idea. My patient had a bad fever and could not stand due to bad soreness in his arms and legs. I was unsure of what to do so I told her to just eat food that doesn’t go off easily, such as bread, fruit and vegetables. I went to see another patient that day, who acted in a way I hadn’t seen before. When I first saw him, he was whipping himself whilst chanting a prayer. He was trying to receive pity from god. He had a number of red buboes on his neck. I tried to get him to smell some flowers to smell as rumours had been going round the other doctors around that the plague was caused by bad odours. I prayed to god this would work. I still worry of this disease and if I will be safe or not. Day 4 This morning I passed many houses that had their windows and doors boarded up, with the sufferers still inside. I could hear their cries for help. I greatly disapprove of this method of stopping the disease from being caught by other people. I believe that there is a chance for people to heal. My patient today was a young girl. Her mother had already died from the plague and I really wanted to help her survive. She had a bad fever and a white coated tongue. Once again for another day, I was unsure of what to do so I gave her some nice smelling flowers and herbs to smell. I had noticed on my way home, that some houses appeared to be deserted. People must be fleeing to escape the plague. It may soon not be possible. My friend who I had received a letter from the other day had sent me another. He told me that the plague had almost wiped out his entire town and many others around their area too. I fear that this may occur here. I will pray everyday to God and hope that he will end this nightmare. Day 5 I saw smoke in the distance on my way to my patient today: they were burning people’s houses down, with the sufferers inside. The ways to prevent the plague are now getting quite drastic. Once again I am praying that I do not contract this horrible plague. My patient today had buboes around his neck, under his arms and in the groin. He was by far the worst patient I have ever had to treat. Up to date, I had only seen red buboes, but these were becoming black. The man smelt horrible and I could not understand his slurred speech. I had seen enough buboes now and none of the treatments that I had tried so far had failed. I decided to cut the buboes open. Luckily, the beak on my mask was filled with sweet smelling herbs. As I cut them they leaked a small amount of pus and blood. The man was in agony, but it was for his own benefit. On my way home today, I saw pets being taken away. I agree with this idea. Animals would spread the disease even more than it has now. Day 6 The town this morning seemed to be much less busy than normal. Farms and streets were deserted. Animals were left to roam free. Crops were rotting. Either so many people have died or so many people have fled. Or it could be both. Bells rang from churches and cannons were fired. People hoped that these noises would drive the infection away. The patient I had today was in a terrible condition. She had black buboes over nearly all her body. It was a horrendous sight. I spent hours cutting each individual black lump open. Some leaked blood and pus before I had cut them open. Out of nowhere, the woman stood up and began to stagger around. She looked extremely pale. Then she collapsed and very sadly died. I did all I could to help her. I pray for her family and that they are alright. On my way home, I saw many bodies being buried in a large hole. It was quite a disturbing sight. That woman would soon be one of them. I’m going to stop writing now. I feel a bit dizzy. I fear I have contracted the disease myself. Day 7 I believe this will be my last journal entry. I’m not feeling well and I discovered that I had red lumps all around my neck, armpits and groin. I have caught the plague. I cannot write much, the nausea is badly affecting me. I am going to die. I cannot treat myself as I am too dizzy. Thank you God for my wonderful life. Goodbye.
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