Wednesday 18 April 2012: Elsie
Long day in London. Stressful meeting. Highlight was a guided tour of a small part of the museum at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. Lots of historical medical curiosities: improperly healed fractures of leg bones, which must have resulted in great pain and disfigurement, wet specimens of tissues, including part of the chest of a man who was accidentally shot by a loaded gun he'd left on the mantelpiece, the hand of an early radiographer who lost all but one finger due to radiation damage and was then 'let go' by the hospital, so many weird and fascinating things.
I wasn't allowed to take a photo of the skeleton of John Merrick, the elephant man, but I was more drawn, in any case, to Elsie. She had severe Paget's disease - a disease of the bone - and around the second world war there wasn't really any treatment that her doctor could offer. She ended up in a cage-type contraption to try to support her body. But her very friendly letters to her physician showed a different doctor-patient relationship before the creation of the NHS and a stalwart British spirit.
Back to London tomorrow, although not for the whole day thankfully.