If you’re like us, you’re still in withdrawal from the series finale of the award-winning show “Downton Abbey.” For the past six years, this show has given us the rare opportunity to go back in time to the beginning of the 20th century. We’ve seen developments in technology that are now quite commonplace in our everyday lives – the first telephone, gramophone, and even the first electric toaster – but we’ve also seen some interesting developments in the world of health care, too!
Learning from the Crawleys
The Crawley family might have lived in the 20th century, but that certainly doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them. Here are the top five health lessons learned from “Downton Abbey” in chronological order.
(Warning: spoilers ahead for those who have not watched the entire series.)
1. Mrs. Patmore’s cataract surgery (Season 1, Episode 7). Mrs. Patmore, the beloved and talented cook at Downton, was one of the first characters to experience a health crisis. For much of the first season, Mrs. Patmore tried to hide her worsening eyesight, but a cook battling cloudy vision has no place in the kitchen. After learning of her condition, Robert sent Mrs. Patmore to London to receive cataract surgery. Luckily, the surgery was successful and she would continue to be the head cook at Downton for many years to come.
Cataracts develop when the eye’s lens become cloudy. Since the risk of developing cataracts increases with age, see your doctor right away if you notice any of these symptoms: cloudy or blurry vision, sensitivity to light, fading colors or double vision in one eye.
2. Mrs. Hughes’ breast cancer scare (Season 3, Episode 2). After housekeeper Mrs. Hughes finds a suspicious lump, she consults Mrs. Patmore, who convinces Mrs. Hughes to visit Dr. Clarkson to learn if it is cancerous. Fortunately, the tests come back negative, and this is even the start of when we begin to see just how much Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes care about each other (aw!).
Although Mrs. Hughes was hesitant at first to see a doctor, it’s a good thing she did because when it comes to cancer, your doctor is the only one who can provide a diagnosis. Click here to learn about the risk factors and prevention of breast cancer.
3. Robert’s ulcer bursts (Season 6, Episode 5). Now that season 6 is over, we can definitively say that seeing Robert vomit blood right at the dinner table was one of the most shocking moments of the season – maybe even the entire series. After seeing Robert clutching his stomach for several episodes, we knew something was troubling the Earl of Grantham, but we (nor the Crawleys) could have guessed this would happen!
So what exactly did happen? A burst ulcer occurs when an ulcer carves into a blood vessel in the stomach, resulting in the vomiting of blood. Luckily today, burst ulcers are less common, but they still happen. Should you experience upper abdominal pain, blood in your stool, or vomiting blood, see your doctor immediately.
4. Mr. Carson has ‘palsy’ (Season 6, Episode 9). Poor Mr. Carson! Just when we thought things were going so well for him after his marriage to Mrs. Hughes, his hands start shaking uncontrollably. As his condition worsens, it becomes clear that he can no longer fulfill his duties as head butler, but we were rest assured that Mr. Carson would stay at Downton Abbey to oversee Thomas as the new head butler.
Today, we now know ‘palsy’ as Parkinson’s disease. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure, but medication and exercise can help with Parkinson’s disease symptoms.
5. Isobel’s suitor, Lord Merton, has iron deficiency anemia (Season 6, Episode 9). Lord Merton might not have been a main character, but his original diagnosis of pernicious anemia (which was very serious back then due to the lack of treatment options) makes Isobel realize how much she loves him. Luckily, re-testing revealed that he was merely suffering from iron deficiency anemia, allowing Lord Merton and Isobel to enjoy the rest of their lives together in peace.
As the name suggests, this type of anemia means that the body doesn’t have enough iron, which can be easily treated with iron supplements. Iron deficiency anemia needs to be diagnosed by a doctor, so see your doctor if you notice signs of increased faintness or fatigue.
“Downton Abbey” has certainly been an emotional roller coaster, but amid all the drama, laughter, and yes, oftentimes tears, we can learn so much from this show. In the words of Mrs. Patmore, “We should always be polite to the people who are kind – there’s not much of it about.”