Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about the Imperial Family and European Royalty => Alexandra Feodorovna => Topic started by: anna11 on November 13, 2005, 07:02:41 AM

Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: anna11 on November 13, 2005, 07:02:41 AM
So, it is commonly said that Alexandra was a bit mentally insane. But the thing is, I dont think she was.
And the main argument is what happened with Rasputin during the war.

What do other people think?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Ra-Ra-Rasputin on November 13, 2005, 07:27:17 AM
No, I don't think she was a 'nutcase' or 'insane'.  She has been very badly misrepresented throughout history by those wanting to put the blame on her shoulders for the downfall of the Romanov dynasty.

Alexandra was a shy, nervous person as a result of her upbringing.  She was surrounded by death and grief, both at home, after the death of first her brother Frittie and then her mother and sister May, and also at her grandmother Queen Victoria's, where she often stayed. She rarely laughed after the death of her mother, and withdrew into herself and into religion.  She was not suited to the role of Empress of the largest and richest empire in the world, and it didn't help that her mother in law Empress Marie was adored by the people and a much more outgoing and personable personality than herself.

So, firstly, she was under the immense strain of having to be the consort of an autocratic monarch, being on show the whole time and expected to live up to the example of her mother in law, who had a completely different personality to her.  Secondly, she knew she was not liked at court and amongst the public, and her lack of skill in speaking French and Russian, the languages of court and the people, alienated her.

Thirdly, she was under intense pressure to produce an heir, which it took her ten years and four daughters to do.  This made her even more unpopular amongst the public, and the family, as her sister in law Xenia managed to produce 6 strapping sons in the same time period.  When her son was finally born, he suffered from an incurable and potentially fatal disease that she had given him, causing her to worry every day for the rest of her life over his health and the impact his death would have on the family and Russia as a whole.

Imagine being in that position.  Plus, Alexandra suffered from constant (possibly psychosomatically induced) pain, which made her bedridden and depressed a lot of the time.  She was deeply religious, and she believed that Rasputin would be able to help cure Alexei.  Watching your son in such intense pain and not being able to do anything about it is going to do something to you, and unsurprisingly Alexandra turned desperately to whoever could help.  When Rasputin appeared to ease Alexei's suffering, she latched on to him and would not listen to any of the damaging rumours circulating about him and his relationship with her.

The bottom line is, Alexandra had a very difficult life.  She may have been rich and lived in opulent splendour, but she was forced into a public role she was not physically or mentally capable of fulfilling with ease, and she was also permanently worried over the health of her son.  She was not mad, just a desperate woman looking for anyone who could help her son.  Because the Russian public did not know about Alexei's illness, they jumped to the conclusion that Alexandra was having an affair.  Also, her inability to run the state while Nicholas was away and trusting in Rasputin's advice rather than ministers is also used as 'proof' that she was mad.  I prefer 'lacking in experience'.  Alexandra trusted Rasputin because she believed in him and his powers, and I don't think she really had anyone else to turn to.  Nicholas' family were not supportive of her, and she didn't trust the ministers because she thought they were conspiring against Nicholas and wanted to take away his absolute power.

People forget that Alexandra was a product of a closeted upbringing, a world where she was not needed to be practical or have knowledge of politics or policy.  She knew nothing about the people of Russia or their needs; that is evident from her diary entries.  She simply could not grasp or understand a life outside of her own.  She lived in isolation at Tsarskoe Selo and anything that was unpleasant she simply pretended didn't exist.  She wasn't mad, she was just didn't have enough knowledge of the real world to make her understand what was really going on.  Her ignorance and desperation to help her son is what people construe as madness.  

That's my opinion, anyway.

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Sarushka on November 13, 2005, 07:47:23 AM
Have a look at this thread, too. It's got lots of good info on how her health & mental state combined to make life as empress *rather* difficult...

Causes & effects of Alexandra's Illnesses (http://hydrogen.pallasweb.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=alix;action=display;num=1125252276)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: rskkiya on November 13, 2005, 08:34:41 AM
Quote
No, I don't think she was a 'nutcase' or 'insane'.  She has been very badly misrepresented throughout history by those wanting to put the blame on her shoulders for the downfall of the Romanov dynasty.

Alexandra was a shy, nervous person as a result of her upbringing.  She was surrounded by death and grief, both at home, after the death of first her brother Frittie and then her mother and sister May, and also at her grandmother Queen Victoria's, where she often stayed. She rarely laughed after the death of her mother, and withdrew into herself and into religion.  She was not suited to the role of Empress of the largest and richest empire in the world, and it didn't help that her mother in law Empress Marie was adored by the people and a much more outgoing and personable personality than herself.

So, firstly, she was under the immense strain of having to be the consort of an autocratic monarch, being on show the whole time and expected to live up to the example of her mother in law, who had a completely different personality to her.  Secondly, she knew she was not liked at court and amongst the public, and her lack of skill in speaking French and Russian, the languages of court and the people, alienated her.

Thirdly, she was under intense pressure to produce an heir, which it took her ten years and four daughters to do.  This made her even more unpopular amongst the public, and the family, as her sister in law Xenia managed to produce 6 strapping sons in the same time period.  When her son was finally born, he suffered from an incurable and potentially fatal disease that she had given him, causing her to worry every day for the rest of her life over his health and the impact his death would have on the family and Russia as a whole.

Imagine being in that position.  Plus, Alexandra suffered from constant (possibly psychosomatically induced) pain, which made her bedridden and depressed a lot of the time.  She was deeply religious, and she believed that Rasputin would be able to help cure Alexei.  Watching your son in such intense pain and not being able to do anything about it is going to do something to you, and unsurprisingly Alexandra turned desperately to whoever could help.  When Rasputin appeared to ease Alexei's suffering, she latched on to him and would not listen to any of the damaging rumours circulating about him and his relationship with her.

The bottom line is, Alexandra had a very difficult life.  She may have been rich and lived in opulent splendour, but she was forced into a public role she was not physically or mentally capable of fulfilling with ease, and she was also permanently worried over the health of her son.  She was not mad, just a desperate woman looking for anyone who could help her son.  Because the Russian public did not know about Alexei's illness, they jumped to the conclusion that Alexandra was having an affair.  Also, her inability to run the state while Nicholas was away and trusting in Rasputin's advice rather than ministers is also used as 'proof' that she was mad.  I prefer 'lacking in experience'.  Alexandra trusted Rasputin because she believed in him and his powers, and I don't think she really had anyone else to turn to.  Nicholas' family were not supportive of her, and she didn't trust the ministers because she thought they were conspiring against Nicholas and wanted to take away his absolute power.

People forget that Alexandra was a product of a closeted upbringing, a world where she was not needed to be practical or have knowledge of politics or policy.  She knew nothing about the people of Russia or their needs; that is evident from her diary entries.  She simply could not grasp or understand a life outside of her own.  She lived in isolation at Tsarskoe Selo and anything that was unpleasant she simply pretended didn't exist.  She wasn't mad, she was just didn't have enough knowledge of the real world to make her understand what was really going on.  Her ignorance and desperation to help her son is what people construe as madness.  

That's my opinion, anyway.


    Alix - a nutter? No, but I do guess - from what second hand information is available- that she was very emotionally unstable.
    Today therapy and medication might have offered her some small comfort.... but given her shyness, her health (sciatica/ being a carrier of haemophilia, and numerous unnamed emotional/physical conditions) and her aloof remote personality - she seems a very unsympathetic person.
This can affect our 21st century way of judging her.

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: anna11 on November 13, 2005, 11:01:29 AM
Yes, emotionaly unstable is exactly what I thought. I just couldnt think of those words.

What do you mean by unsympathetic? I think that(and her being called arrogant, unsocial etc) was just a result of her extreme shyness
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: clockworkgirl21 on November 14, 2005, 11:59:40 PM
I would say it was a bit selfish of Aleksandra to just want to forget about things, like the public and their problems. But I have no right to judge her, I wouldn't know how that feels. Besides, she probably handled the situation a lot better than I would have.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Ra-Ra-Rasputin on November 15, 2005, 03:06:11 AM
Quote
I would say it was a bit selfish of Aleksandra to just want to forget about things, like the public and their problems. But I have no right to judge her, I wouldn't know how that feels. Besides, she probably handled the situation a lot better than I would have.


What you have to remember is that at that time, someone of Alix's background would have been brought up to think that she was superior, and she would have had very little contact with ordinary people.  She just didn't understand that not everyone lived like her, and she couldn't grasp the severity of their suffering because she had never experienced anything like it herself.

Don't get me wrong, I think that she was a very flawed person too.  I'm just saying that she was a product of a closeted, priveleged upbringing among a world solely composed of people of her status.  When you're that insular, you do find it difficult to empathise with and appreciate the problems of people in a different situation to your own.  I think there was an element of Alexandra burying her head in the sand, ie. by moving the family to Tsarskoe Selo so they couldn't see and hear what was going on, and so 'out of sight, out of mind', as it were.  But Alexandra had so many worries to be getting on with at home, I just don't think she wanted to be confronted with more stress outside her front door every day.  Maybe that was selfish, but like you said yourself, who knows how we would have coped in the same situation? It's hard to really analyse the situation and pass judgement when you haven't gone through the same experience.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on November 15, 2005, 10:23:52 AM
Alexandra wasn't a nutcase, she just was very firm in her ideas, passions, and persuasions, and these were not always correct. To her, if shebelieved it it was true, although it might not be. She was never taught to look at the world through others eyes, but through her own eyes, the eyes of royalty. In those days royalty were not taught nor expected to relate to those below them. Alexandra had even more difficulty with this because she had a very shy personality and had difficulty expressing herself in public like she actually was. She wasn't haughty, not more so than any other royalty of that day.She had little charisma that you could see in public, it came out more in private. Her temprament didn't suit her position.She went though difficult things which strained her severely, and she sometimes during these things expressed or acted in a hysterical manner. But she was torn.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on November 16, 2005, 09:15:13 PM
Nutcase is a little strong, but there was something mentally unstable about Alix.  Certainly a lot of it came from the events of her life and her upbringing, but she seems to have been genetically predisposed to 'hysteria' as many women in her bloodline were.  Like I said in another post, it also unfortunately seems that Alix passed this on to Olga.

In today's terms, I don't think it all extreme to assume she would be considered a hypochondriac (although, I do admit, many of her pains were all too real).  Furthermore, it seems that if she were alive today she would be on some sort of medication for either depression or social anxiety (her shyness did border on extreme sometimes).

Ignoring the impact of 'hysteria' on her health (which was significant, I personally believe she worked herself into more than one migraine) has anyone ever considered either here on the board, in a book, or in some academic journal that Alix had anything like lupus or Multiple Sclerosis?  Or, in a rare case, had contracted an STD like syphilis from Nicky?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on November 17, 2005, 09:53:24 AM
Well, people know how to speculate. But yes her character had a bit of the hysterical/emotional in it. But then wasn't some of Quuen Victoria's behaviour hysterical too? And isn't she regarded as a great queen in history?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tania+ on November 17, 2005, 11:56:18 AM
Ra-Ra-Rasputin, and Romanov_fan,

You have stated your words very fairly in regards to HIH A. I agree, with all of the extremes of issues the poor woman had to face, and remember, she faced these issues daily; it's hard to see why one would'nt be at one's wits ends. Just think, she still had to face the public, and meet public demands, and she was just one person. She was only human. That's all anyone of us could probably have accomplished during those years, and in how women's roles were looked at. It's easy to talk about the past, given all the medical support of today, but back then, they had the lesser of support, in many ways. She was not a nut-case !

Again, to the initial poster, would you mind please to state, just who were the supposedly 'responsible' people making statement that she was a 'nut-case'.Can they be named ? Where specifically in print did you gain this fact, and at what year were these facts offered anywhere ?

Thank you in advance for any answers you can provide with and as fact.

Tatiana
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: elfwine on November 17, 2005, 08:24:38 PM
Quote
    Alix - a nutter? No, but I do guess - from what second hand information is available- that she was very emotionally unstable.
     Today therapy and medication might have offered her some small comfort.... but given her shyness, her health (sciatica/ being a carrier of haemophilia, and numerous unnamed emotional/physical conditions) and her aloof remote personality - she seems a very unsympathetic person.
This can affect our 21st century way of judging her.



This works for me.
Alix appears to have not possessed an outgoing personality, which would have been essential as a Tsarina.
She was very shy, sensitive and was rather a defensive person, who seemed to have been looking for the negative things around her.
I think - having read some of her letters and private communications - that she was paranoid and rather emotionally unstable.  

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: stacey on November 22, 2005, 02:45:57 AM
I absolutely do not believe that Alexandra had any kind of "psychotic" tendencies--that would be the technical form of the term "nutcase". ;)Neurotic though? Probably. "Hysteria" is a difficult term too, it's so loaded with Victorian/Freudian overtones (betcha never thought you'd see Victoria and Freud juxtaposed like that now did you?! ;D). Yes, she did show occasional "meltdowns" but I think they were understandable, considering all the strain under which she lived--her position in society, her son's poor health, the constant threat of assassination/revolution, her own unpopularity even within the Romanov family, her truly pathological shyness (yes, meds probably could have helped her there), and yes, her own instability. But I don't think that "instability" really went beyond the boundaries of some pretty "neurotic" behavior. To me the most disturbing trait she showed would be her "paranoia" as the poster above just mentioned. She did seem to be very defensive and suspicious of anyone who was not in complete agreement with her own view of how the Empire should be run. Exactly where and when and how that suspiciousness arose I'm not too clear about. But I do think it had a lot to do with her fears for her son's future, and that possibly could be traced back to those awful first weeks when she first realized she had borne a son with a deadly disease, which came from her. If anything truly "unhinged" poor unhappy Alix, I think that was it--Alexei's hemophilia and her own guilt at having passed it on to him.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on November 22, 2005, 10:25:56 AM
She was emotional, something she passed on to her her eldest daughter Olga. But she was never unstable or the classic definition of nutcase. Alexei's hemophilia had a big impact on her life, and could well have been the source for much of her behaviour.Emotional people always run the risk of being accused of being unstable, much like Princess Diana, who was often accused of having a meltdown, being finally off the hook, or whatever. She was showed up to give a speech joking to the audience that, given the recent tabloid speculation about her, she shoudn't be there, she should be in a getting help for being unstable, and that how could she be there-she was loony? She was making a joke out of it, but I doubt Alexandra could ever have laughed at such accusations.

Princess Diana and Tsarina Alexandra were both emotional people, but neither was a nutcase. I thought that was a interesting comparison,just my thoughts. Both women had alot against them, in difficult situations.With Empress Alexandra, this was her son,  his illness, the fact that no one in the country understood her, and the complex Russian politics.With Princess Diana, it was her marriage, divorce, the media, and her eating disorder.Further back, this kind of behaviour could be observed in Queen Victoria after the Prince Consort's death.She was a emotional person, too,even if she is not popularly regarded as such.
Thanks for contributing to the boards,Stacey, I like your opinions. You know what you are discussing and that shows.
I love reading your posts. ;)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: David_Pritchard on December 05, 2005, 11:10:19 PM
Alexandra a nutcase?

What a broad question to pose. Maybe when did Aleksandra become unstable would be better. I have always been of the opinion the Aleksandra did not have the proper training, education, lifestyle and personal traits to be a successful Empress of all the Russias. A savvy princess of the Royal House of Bourbon-Orléans would have had a much better chance at success in Russia. Aleksandra would have been much more comfortable married to a minor German or Austrian prince such as a Reuss, Schwartzenburg, Saxe-Meiningen, Lippe or Esterházy. Such a marriage would be less stressful and would not push her faults be they physical, social or emotional to the forefront.

What is unfortunate is that Aleksander III and Maria Feodorovna did not push Nikolai Aleksandrovich to marry a more appropriate and suitable princess.

I do beleive that as the pressures of being the Empress of all the Russias built one upon another, starting with the death of Aleksander III and the disaster of Khodinka Field, Aleksandra Feodorovna slowly slipped away into a world of her own, socially paralyzed by her pre-existing phobias, obsessions and religious superstitions. Was she unstable? In the end of course she was unstable but was this mental condition inevitable or was it brought about by envoronmental stress? I believe that Aleksandra with her pre-existing mental defects could have had a fully functional life in a different, less stressful environment. Aleksandra Feodorovna, with her psyche, was driven to the edge of madness by the demanding postion of Empress of all the Russias.

David
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: David_Newell on December 06, 2005, 08:57:22 AM
I so agree with David on this.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on December 06, 2005, 10:20:47 AM
Her position was indeed demanding, and this is a factor, of course. Nicholas most likely have ought to have married someone with personal qualities more suited to the position of consort. But he loved her, and when royal marriages are made for different motives, sometimes they can bring troubles of their own. Sometimes if royal marriage is not happy, there can be consquences for the country.
Would Nicholas have been happy with Helene of Orleans, or anybody else other than Alexandra?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: clockworkgirl21 on December 08, 2005, 03:20:42 PM
Quote
...Mother is lying on the couch and Vladimir Nickolayevich is doing the electrical treatment to her..."
That's a letter from Maria.

Anyone know anything about these electrical treatments?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Sarushka on December 08, 2005, 04:31:21 PM
Based on what I know about the Imperial Family, I would assume the following:
'Mother' is Aleksandra Fyodorovna
'Maria' is Maria Nikolaevna
'Vladimir Nikolaevich' is Dr. Derevenko
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: clockworkgirl21 on December 08, 2005, 05:07:03 PM
I only took out the parts that had nothing to do with the treatments. She was just sitting there, writing was was happening around her to her father. All she said about this man giving the treatments was his name. So apology accepted, David_Pritchard.

Quote
"...Nickolai Dmitrievich Demenkov left on Saturday. I talked to him over the telephone. He was very happy to go. Do you remember, I sewed a shirt for him? I asked him about it and he said that he liked it very much and it was just his size... I am writing to you from Orchy's room. Mother is lying on the couch and Vladimir Nickolayevich is doing the electrical treatment to her..."
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Janet_W. on December 08, 2005, 07:52:03 PM
I've also wondered about these "electrical treatments," although I believe the subject was brought up some time ago and answered . . . I just can't remember where!  ???  Since Alexandra was Tsarina it makes sense she'd receive "cutting edge" treatments for her various aches, pains and illnesses. I do remember the rather startling x-ray photos of Nicholas and Alexandra's hands at this site, taken early in their life together when x-ray technology was still very new. So that tells you they were not exactly reluctant to try new things!

Since this thread is kept under the section for Alexandra and most of us are aware that she had a daughter named Maria, I don't think it entirely untoward for a quote from the latter, referring to "Mother," to be posted and used as the basis for a question.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on December 09, 2005, 12:25:12 PM
I am sure she did recieve cutting edge treatment, and no doubt this was what the letter referred to.I think that is the best explnation of this I have ever come across, anyway. I wish we knew more, because the subject is intriguing. Alexandra did have sciatica, and she did not really have a good heart, so she might have had these kinds of treatmants. And also, the stress of Alexei's hemophilia contributed to the extent of her illness, that is stress did not help these ailments, but made them worse etc.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: lovy on December 10, 2005, 09:26:51 PM
i dont think alexandra was a 'nutcase.' she was very emotional though, and suffered from sciatica.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Laura Mabee on December 11, 2005, 03:08:23 PM
I am open to hear what anyone has to say on this topic. I myself am quite interested what "electrical treatments" Alix took part in. The only electrical treatments Ihave heard of, has been electric shock. I personally doubt that if indeed Alix was getting some sorts of "electric shock" (to the degree I've heard about); she would not have let Grand Duchess Maria N. see her get these treatments.

Any information on this topic is happily accepted. Quite fascinating what you can find out through their letters.

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Robert_Hall on December 13, 2005, 02:19:07 PM
  Whilst in the antique trade, we came upon may early "electrical treatment" devices. These early gadgets were harmless as far as I know, Some still worked so I tried them myself !  They usually consisted of glass tubes which a mild current was passed through.  I was into collecting early cosmetology  equipment and came upon a "scalp treatment, dated 1912 or nearby as I recall. It produced a mild tingle, which I suppose was to stimulate the scalp and hair growth. There were also muscle relaxing  gadgets, I think some for heart massage. Of course, these were all quack treatments but were popular because they were new and no one knew any better.
 As for electrical shock treatments- did they even practice that horror back then ? I thought it came about in the 1930's.
A patent office search would probably show exactly what was in use at the time.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Russian_Duchess_#5 on December 13, 2005, 02:31:17 PM
It seems to me that Aleksandra believed in many quacks and quick remedies. Who knows what horrors she could have put herself through with those treatments?
They mustn't have been too bad, though, because Maria would not have been a witness, then.
But, Maria seems to be familiar with the treatment in her letter because she writes it as "the" treatment, which suggests familiarity, something typical.
If not, something that was talked openly about earlier, or even argued about.
Of course, if there had been an argument about that, suppose with Alix and Nicky, Maria would not have been an attending party.
In conclusion, this treatment seems to be a routine, that the family knew about, nothing dangerous or new.

Sofia
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: GrandDuchess_Bella on December 16, 2005, 07:39:40 AM
I agree. She was a very emotional person and did everything in her power to keep her family safe and happy. She tried to be what I would call 'Super Woman'. She was not insane in the least little bit. She did struggle with her emotions because of the rumors, the lies and of course Alexei. But hey, If you had a son with hemophilia that could die at any moment you would probably go to extreme lengths  to protect him wouldn't you?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on December 16, 2005, 10:44:11 AM
I think all of us can try to understand how extreme situations can influence emotion. And that is what happened to Alexandra; she was strained and stressed and this was hard, as it would be for anybody, for more especially for someone in her position. Not a nutcase; just emotional and strong, and this breed of woman sometimes gets misinterpreted.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on December 16, 2005, 10:46:53 AM
Yes, it seems to have routine, and was not so radical, as in those days in medicine many things were tried, sucessful or not.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: NAAOTMA on December 16, 2005, 03:03:18 PM
The exhibit of Nicholas and Alexandra's personal possessions that toured the USA last year included her "electrical bathrobe" which featured wiring on the inside of the bathrobe. It was part of the health fad at the time that presented mild electrical current as having healing properties. No further explaination was given as to how it actually worked (or how it felt) on the exhibit placard.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on December 19, 2005, 11:35:55 AM
Thanks for the above interestimg info! I think when we contribute something to another person's understanding of an issue, then we contribute alot. ;) And you contributed alot to my understanding of this issue.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Donya_P on December 24, 2005, 09:19:47 PM
Hello,

I believe that this is too early for the electric Shock therapy that is/was used for depression.  It was probably the application of a low current to "energize" muscles.  Has anyone seen the movie "Secret Garden"?
Thats the idea.
--Donya
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Sadie on December 26, 2005, 11:37:34 PM
Personally I think that one of the most important things people seem to not realize is that just because someone is born royal or with all the money in the world does not make their lives necessarily happy or easy.

Alexandra tried to do the best she could with what she had and she tried to do what she thought was best. So was she a nutcase? Alexandra was a foreigner and the fact that she German did not bode well with the people before and after her marraige, her Russian was not well, Her only son and heir to the throne of Russia was not expected to live into adult hood, and she was a shy and depressed to boot. All those things combined don't make life easy for any person.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Joy0318 on December 28, 2005, 04:18:05 AM
I do not think she was a nutcase. She was just extremely shy and may have had some emotional problems but she was not psychotic.  Neurotic--maybe, but I am not going to pass judgement on her. As a shy person I think she found it very difficult to be in the public eye all the time.

But in my opinion what had the biggest effect on her emotionally was the health of her son. She blamed herself for causing Alexei's illness and knew firsthand that the disease could be fatal. Her brother and uncle had died from hemophilia and she was in a constant state of worry about Alexei.  But what do you expect? I think she handled the situation better than I would have done. How do you think you would feel day to day if you knew your only son was probably going to die young?  It's just unfortunate that the one person who could help Alexei was the most corrupt man in all of Russia. She was easily swayed by him and since he was able to help Alexei she overlooked that fact that he was a drunk and an opportunist.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: leushino on December 28, 2005, 11:05:53 AM
Quote
Alexandra a nutcase?

What a broad question to pose. Maybe when did Aleksandra become unstable would be better. I have always been of the opinion the Aleksandra did not have the proper training, education, lifestyle and personal traits to be a successful Empress of all the Russias. A savvy princess of the Royal House of Bourbon-Orléans would have had a much better chance at success in Russia. Aleksandra would have been much more comfortable married to a minor German or Austrian prince such as a Reuss, Schwartzenburg, Saxe-Meiningen, Lippe or Esterházy. Such a marriage would be less stressful and would not push her faults be they physical, social or emotional to the forefront.

What is unfortunate is that Aleksander III and Maria Feodorovna did not push Nikolai Aleksandrovich to marry a more appropriate and suitable princess.

I do beleive that as the pressures of being the Empress of all the Russias built one upon another, starting with the death of Aleksander III and the disaster of Khodinka Field, Aleksandra Feodorovna slowly slipped away into a world of her own, socially paralyzed by her pre-existing phobias, obsessions and religious superstitions. Was she unstable? In the end of course she was unstable but was this mental condition inevitable or was it brought about by envoronmental stress? I believe that Aleksandra with her pre-existing mental defects could have had a fully functional life in a different, less stressful environment. Aleksandra Feodorovna, with her psyche, was driven to the edge of madness by the demanding postion of Empress of all the Russias.

David



What a wonderful encapsulation of the person and the situation. I completely agree.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Grace on December 28, 2005, 05:48:44 PM
I agree with what David has said too -- very succinctly put.  It's a shame to hear that he has left the forum.

I've mentioned it before somewhere, but it's extremely odd that, even though she was so much in love with Nicky, Alicky seemed to give no thought at all that her marriage to him would mean that in time she would become Tsarina.  Did she not see at all what was involved with the position and that she was totally unsuited for it?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on December 30, 2005, 09:59:11 PM
Quote
I've mentioned it before somewhere, but it's extremely odd that, even though she was so much in love with Nicky, Alicky seemed to give no thought at all that her marriage to him would mean that in time she would become Tsarina.  Did she not see at all what was involved with the position and that she was totally unsuited for it?


A normal person would have, but to her it was all part of her destiny and of God's plan.  She put a lot of faith in the Big Guy.  Certainly He would not have put her on the throne of Russia if she were not meant to be and ready for it.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: calebGmoney on December 31, 2005, 03:21:28 PM
I do believe she wasn't completely normal. Even Eugene Botkin told Gleb that "he can no longer think of the Empress as completely normal." Some of the things she did, like making Nicholas comb his hair with a 'magic' comb from Rasputin really are a tad bit strange.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Grace on January 01, 2006, 05:48:44 AM
Quote
I do believe she wasn't completely normal. Even Eugene Botkin told Gleb that "he can no longer think of the Empress as completely normal." Some of the things she did, like making Nicholas comb his hair with a 'magic' comb from Rasputin really are a tad bit strange.


calebGmoney, I haven't heard the "comb" story.  Could you tell it, please, or direct me to where I may read about it?

Thank you.  :)

P.S. I never thought Alexandra was mentally unbalanced exactly, but a "magic comb from Rasputin" now has me wondering... :-/ ::)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: CountessKate on January 01, 2006, 08:04:21 AM
Botkin's diagnosis of Alexandra being 'not normal' was the sort of thing men were always diagnosing about women in the 19th century.  The other diagnosis was that of hysteria, which Botkin also attributed to Alexandra.  It was a form of attempted control, particularly for women in positions either of power or perceived power.  Alexandra, as the wife of the Russian autocrat, self-secluded from any other close contacts except her immediate family, was particularly subjected to this sort of judgement, not just by Botkin.  However, a very similar diagnosis was made of her grandmother, Queen Victoria, by her husband Prince Albert, who was frightened of her emotionalism and wanted more political control.  In both cases these sorts of judgements were made by well-meaning men who nevertheless were not in the positions of control as they would have expected normally to be, and sought to quite literally rationalise the situation by such views.  I think Alexandra was obstinate, tactless, politically naive, and prone to emotional judgements, but I haven't seen anything which convinces me she was actually insane.  As for 'not normal', however many people may have been writing behind Alexandra's back that she was not normal, or hysterical, or just a nutcase, there wouldn't have been a single person who would have said it to her face, except in a roundabout, respectful sort of way which she could brush aside.  And that, of course, just make her feel that what she did was right and she shouldn't bother with views other than her own, however stupid or actually insane she may have appeared to others.  
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on January 01, 2006, 08:42:14 AM
I, too, remember the "magic" comb.  I can't remember wher I read it, but I'll pull out my books and have a look.

I do think, however, that it was in a letter to Stavka.  I don't know if Nicholas already had the comb or
if she was sending it to him.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Joy0318 on January 01, 2006, 12:15:07 PM
Quote
I do believe she wasn't completely normal. Even Eugene Botkin told Gleb that "he can no longer think of the Empress as completely normal." Some of the things she did, like making Nicholas comb his hair with a 'magic' comb from Rasputin really are a tad bit strange.


I've never heard about that before. It doesn't surprise me though since Alix was so under Rasputin's influence. I think she would  have done anything he told her to.  Still I don't think this would qualify her an insane or a nutcase.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: leushino on January 01, 2006, 01:08:26 PM
Hi Joy

I would agree with your assessment. In fact, it brings to mind my mother (who reposed many years ago)... a wonderful woman who was... rather superstitious. Mum was far from insane or even abnormal, but like many of her era, she had a superstitious bent that caused her to do things in a certain way. And for that matter, how many of us have the same little idiosyncrasies? I remember playing sports and refusing to wash my socks "if" my team was on a winning streak! Alexandra, it seems to me, was simply exhibiting the same behavior.  ;)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Grace on January 01, 2006, 04:28:59 PM
I disagree here.  For the ruling consort of all the Russias to be slavishly following the advice of a filthy peasant who, no matter how she closes her ears to it, other people including family members, government officials and more had vociferiously spoken out against speaks volumes about her instability, I think. Whether it was mental instability or not I don't know, but it was certainly instability, in my opinion.

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Joy0318 on January 01, 2006, 04:46:37 PM
I agree that she did have some emotional problems most of which were brought on by her extreme shyness and her constant worry about her son. Emotionally unstable--yes.  A nutcase--no.  I also agree with leushino in that she was probably superstitious.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Grace on January 01, 2006, 05:08:34 PM
Quote
I agree that she did have some emotional problems most of which were brought on by her extreme shyness and her constant worry about her son. Emotionally unstable--yes.  A nutcase--no.  I also agree with leushino in that she was probably superstitious.


How can a woman of her age be shy?  Reserved, yes, but her position required that she make at least some sort of efforts to conquer this.  These efforts were minimal, to say the least.

The concern about her son was understandable, yes, but, at the risk of sounding hard here, shouldn't have consumed her whole life in the way it did.  That was unwise for herself, her son, the rest of her family and, of course, her adopted country.

I wouldn't describe her, or anyone else, as a "nutcase" but she was certainly plunging the depths of paranoia and probably would have deteriorated further had events not happened the way they did.

In my opinion, the woman was a disaster all round, for herself, her husband, her family and, of course, for Russia.  :-[
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on January 01, 2006, 08:26:05 PM
I've been away from my books still so I haven't been able to look up the "magic" comb yet, however, we are talking about the Empress of Russia telling her husband to use a "magic" comb before he makes decisions about a raging war!

The other thing I think she may have said was that it would bring him clearness or calmness of mind to use it.

OK, Nancy Reagan had her astrologer, so maybe it isn't as strange as we think, but I thought that Nancy was a bit looney also.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Grace on January 01, 2006, 09:45:47 PM
Quote
I've been away from my books still so I haven't been able to look up the "magic" comb yet, however, we are talking about the Empress of Russia telling her husband to use a "magic" comb before he makes decisions about a raging war!

The other thing I think she may have said was that it would bring him clearness or calmness of mind to use it.

OK, Nancy Reagan had her astrologer, so maybe it isn't as strange as we think, but I thought that Nancy was a bit looney also.


Thank you, Alixz, I would appreciate if you could have a look at the "magic comb" story, at your convenience of course.  :)

I would agree with your opinions here about Alexandra Feodorovna.  I am now doubting that she was even "religious" in the conventional sense, i.e. reverence of God etc. because all denominations of the Christian faith forbid the use of "magic" in any manner at all and also the regarding of another human being, i.e. Rasputin, as a God-like figure.

Like many here, I became interested in the IF in my teens and that was over 20 years ago now, so I consider myself reasonably well informed about them but certainly no expert.

The more I learn about Alexandra, the less impressed I am with her as an overall human being but again, it's just my opinion.  ::)

P.S. Yes, Nancy Reagan was a bit...looney...I think!
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Dasha on January 02, 2006, 12:00:57 AM
I don't think I would call Alix a 'nutcase', but I would also not deny that she had a lot of issues.  Her trust in Rasputin was above and beyond anything that I have ever seen, but in her defense, desprate times call for desprate measures.  The proper course of action in my opinion would have been to look to other means to ease her anxiety concerning Aleksey, but then agian, I'm not a mother who has a child that has an incurable illness.

To really come to the point, I think Alix's problems were psychological and emotional.  She clearly had depression and some form of an axiety disorder.  Those certainly made her behave in an abnormal fashion, but calling her a 'nutcase' may be a bit much.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: calebGmoney on January 02, 2006, 12:14:48 AM
Hey everyone! The "magic" comb story is in Edvard Radzinsky's "The Last Tsar".
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Grace on January 02, 2006, 03:38:02 AM
Quote
Hey everyone! The "magic" comb story is in Edvard Radzinsky's "The Last Tsar".


Thanks for this information but, of course, not everyone has this book so I am still querying the story.

Alixz has kindly offered to look up the information when convenient.  :)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Prince_Lieven on January 02, 2006, 04:09:46 PM
Quote



The more I learn about Alexandra, the less impressed I am with her as an overall human being but again, it's just my opinion.  ::)




I'm inclined to agree with you Grace. You've summed her up wonderfully in your previous posts, IMHO.
;)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: PssMarieAmelie on January 02, 2006, 04:17:57 PM
Quote

Thank you, Alixz, I would appreciate if you could have a look at the "magic comb" story, at your convenience of course.  :)

I would agree with your opinions here about Alexandra Feodorovna.  I am now doubting that she was even "religious" in the conventional sense, i.e. reverence of God etc. because all denominations of the Christian faith forbid the use of "magic" in any manner at all and also the regarding of another human being, i.e. Rasputin, as a God-like figure.

Like many here, I became interested in the IF in my teens and that was over 20 years ago now, so I consider myself reasonably well informed about them but certainly no expert.

The more I learn about Alexandra, the less impressed I am with her as an overall human being but again, it's just my opinion.  ::)

P.S. Yes, Nancy Reagan was a bit...looney...I think!




Same. I'm more inclined to Minnie than to Alix. ::)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: calebGmoney on January 02, 2006, 06:21:07 PM
Quote

Thanks for this information but, of course, not everyone has this book so I am still querying the story.

Alixz has kindly offered to look up the information when convenient.  :)

Ill look it up in the book later for you.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: koloagirl on January 02, 2006, 11:16:19 PM
 ;)

Bye-the-by Grace....you don't need to be any certain age to be
considered "shy"......if you are shy in your teens you are just as likely to be a shy person as an adult....unless you have a great strength of will.  

I speak from experience!  ;)

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Grace on January 03, 2006, 02:36:38 AM
Quote
;)

Bye-the-by Grace....you don't need to be any certain age to be
considered "shy"......if you are shy in your teens you are just as likely to be a shy person as an adult....unless you have a great strength of will.  

I speak from experience!  ;)



Point taken, Koloagirl.  ;)

However, I still think that "shyness" cannot be used as an excuse for a mature woman who was not only an Empress but a wife and mother of five children to boot.

While I don't think it was necessary for Alexandra to become the high priestess of society as her garrulous and outgoing mother-in-law Marie was, she should have mustered the courage at least sometimes to be seen by the Russian people and to take a more active role as Tsarina than she did.  Even though she regarded Russian society to be frivolous and judgemental she should have made some efforts here also, if only to gain something of a positive image and foster some affection with the upper classes as well.  She never seemed to see this.

A big problem was that she was far too isolated by the extreme stiffness and formality of the Russian court but also by her own refusal to welcome people as friends and confidants.

I do commend her for her nursing work, though.  She seemed to give a great deal of herself and, in turn, put her own woes to the backburner during this time.

You know, I don't really like her at all but I find her a fascinating woman nevertheless and, by the number of threads here on her, so do heaps of others!  :D
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: James1941 on January 03, 2006, 11:05:50 AM
I am not sure if this is the "comb" letter that has been referred to but here is one.
Taken from A Lifelong Passion: Nicholas and Alexandra Their Own Story by Andrei Maylunas and Sergei Mironekko.
In a letter to Nicholas at HQ, Alexandra writes from Tsarskoe Selo on 15 September, 1915:
"Remember to keep the Image in your hand again and several times to comb your hair with His comb before the sitting of the ministers.
 Goodbye,dear Beloved, my own sweet husband, joy of my heart - I cover you with tender longing kisses."


In another letter she referres to Our Friend's Image, so I assume the image here is a picture of Rasputin.
She also usually referred to Rasputin with capital letters (Him, His, He, Our Friend) like God.
The comb was sent to the Tsar. In other letters she asks him to touch or caress other objects that Rasputin has "blessed" and been sent to him.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tsarfan on January 03, 2006, 03:13:35 PM
Is there any indication that Nicholas acted on this advice from Alexandra?  While I see Nicholas as an incompetent tsar with many key failings, I have never counted belief in talismans among them (assuming one does not count church icons as talismans).

If, in fact, the tsar of Russia was running a magic comb through his hair before facing his ministers, he was as detached from reality as his wife.

As I have argued elsewhere, I think the vaunted idyll of his marriage to Alexandra was a sham.  Nicholas occasionally dropped hints that life with Alexandra could be quite exasperating.  And I have always felt that Nicholas' prolonged stints at Stavka during the twilight of his reign had much more to do with getting away from Tsarkoe Selo than with making any real contribution at military headquarters.  There are too many reports about how time there hung heavy on his hands, how he whiled away the hours with walks and card games and visits to churches -- all while the political underpinnings of the monarchy were collapsing in St. Petersburg.

Nicholas was hiding from something more troubling -- and more immediate -- to him than political problems.  A wife whose hold on reality had finally slipped her grasp might be that thing.  Of all the illnesses to bear in a loved one, this one is the most burdensome.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Grace on January 03, 2006, 03:41:56 PM
I agree with you Tsarfan.  

There is evidence that Nicholas did not always follow Alexandra's "advice" and therefore, he did not always agree with her ideas.

I think there may have been times that he did do her bidding simply to keep the peace and not to "upset" her.

I think he may have even feared her, to a degree, or at least her wrath/coldness etc.  ???

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Eddie_uk on January 03, 2006, 04:42:05 PM
Your so right Grace!!

Nicky was just to good, he should have been more assertive.Regarding Rasputin he once said " Better one Rasputin than ten fits of hysterics a day". Which is quite telling!!
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: calebGmoney on January 03, 2006, 05:11:52 PM
Quote
Is there any indication that Nicholas acted on this advice from Alexandra?  While I see Nicholas as an incompetent tsar with many key failings, I have never counted belief in talismans among them (assuming one does not count church icons as talismans).

If, in fact, the tsar of Russia was running a magic comb through his hair before facing his ministers, he was as detached from reality as his wife.

As I have argued elsewhere, I think the vaunted idyll of his marriage to Alexandra was a sham.  Nicholas occasionally dropped hints that life with Alexandra could be quite exasperating.  And I have always felt that Nicholas' prolonged stints at Stavka during the twilight of his reign had much more to do with getting away from Tsarkoe Selo than with making any real contribution at military headquarters.  There are too many reports about how time there hung heavy on his hands, how he whiled away the hours with walks and card games and visits to churches -- all while the political underpinnings of the monarchy were collapsing in St. Petersburg.

Nicholas was hiding from something more troubling -- and more immediate -- to him than political problems.  A wife whose hold on reality had finally slipped her grasp might be that thing.  Of all the illnesses to bear in a loved one, this one is the most burdensome.

I imagine you're right. While I don't doubt that Alexandra probably wanted Nicholas to comb his hair with Rasptin's comb, he probably did not. For me, belief in a comb really is going over board with mystics.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: RichC on January 04, 2006, 12:42:03 AM
Quote
Is there any indication that Nicholas acted on this advice from Alexandra?  While I see Nicholas as an incompetent tsar with many key failings, I have never counted belief in talismans among them (assuming one does not count church icons as talismans).

If, in fact, the tsar of Russia was running a magic comb through his hair before facing his ministers, he was as detached from reality as his wife.

As I have argued elsewhere, I think the vaunted idyll of his marriage to Alexandra was a sham.  Nicholas occasionally dropped hints that life with Alexandra could be quite exasperating.  And I have always felt that Nicholas' prolonged stints at Stavka during the twilight of his reign had much more to do with getting away from Tsarkoe Selo than with making any real contribution at military headquarters.  There are too many reports about how time there hung heavy on his hands, how he whiled away the hours with walks and card games and visits to churches -- all while the political underpinnings of the monarchy were collapsing in St. Petersburg.

Nicholas was hiding from something more troubling -- and more immediate -- to him than political problems.  A wife whose hold on reality had finally slipped her grasp might be that thing.  Of all the illnesses to bear in a loved one, this one is the most burdensome.


I agree the comb passage in the letters sound awfully strange to us, but how different is this from venerating relics -- something which millions of people all over the world do, even today?  In Chicago recently, the Virgin was said to have appeared on the wall of an underpass near the Kennedy Expressway.  All it was, was melting snow and slush, but a lot of people believed in it.  In Santa Fe, New Mexico, I visited a church where people come to eat the dirt from the ground.  And there's Lourdes, of course, where millions of people have come to be cured from all kinds of illnesses.  If Alexandra asked Nicholas to use a comb blessed (presumably) by Rasputin, so what?  Rasputin reputedly kept her son alive -- and she wasn't the only one who thought so.  

Taken from another angle, how different is "the magic comb" from some of the odd things Queen Victoria did?  Note the reverence the Queen showed to the objects that belonged to the Prince; how his rooms were left untouched for forty years after he died; how the Queen brought portraits of the Prince with her on her trips to Italy so he could "see" all the things she was seeing.  It has even been postulated that the Queen allowed John Brown "every conjugal right" because she convinced herself that the soul of Prince Albert had occupied John Brown's body  (see Christopher Hibbert).  Empress Alexandra was raised in this milieu.  It must have been a short leap for her to go from Windsor to attaching talismanic properties to objects "blessed" by Rasputin.

In regard to the "vaunted idyll" of their marriage, who, specifically, says they had a marriage entirely devoid of any problems?  Not Massie.  He talks about fights, especially during the war, but also strains due to Alexandra's frequent illnesses.  I don't think any serious scholar thinks Nicholas and Alexandra's marriage was free of problems.  But sham marriages usually do not include the sheer volume of letters such as Nicholas and Alexandra wrote to each other.  Certainly the letters indicate political disagreements, but not domestic ones.  Even during the worst periods, around the time of Nicholas' supposed heart attack, and Rasputin's assassination, there doesn't appear to have really been a breakdown between them.  Their sex life doesn't appear to have stopped -- in my experience, the amount of sex can often act as a barometer of the health of the marriage.  But, I grant you, things were pretty bad in the period right before the revolution.  It's possible, during this period, that Nicholas spent more time at Stavka to "get away" from Alexandra.  But this doesn't make their marriage any less real, or meaningful to them.  And it certainly doesn't make it into a sham.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Grace on January 04, 2006, 01:21:50 AM
Quote
Your so right Grace!!

Nicky was just to good, he should have been more assertive.Regarding Rasputin he once said " Better one Rasputin than ten fits of hysterics a day". Which is quite telling!!


Yes, you are right, Eddieboy, it's a very telling statement indeed.

I don't think anyone here is claiming that the marriage of Nicholas and Alexandra was a "sham", just that it wasn't, especially in the latter years, that idyll of perfection so many people think it was.

Also, Rasputin didn't keep the Tsarevich alive - he couldn't - he was only a mortal human being.

Regarding Queen Victoria - yes, she did surround herself for a long time with many relics of Albert - but she did not regard them as magical.  In all the books I've read about QV, I have never heard the Italy/portrait story so I would have to think it's maybe a bit of a tall story from somewhere and most biographers of QV have agreed that her relationship with John Brown was close, but not sexual.

As for those people who get excited about a cheese sandwich that appears to have the shape of the Virgin Mary on it - as they say, there's one born every day... ::)

Please note that I am not ridiculing anyone's religious faith - just the improbable such as weeping statues, magic combs and the like.  ;)


Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tsarfan on January 04, 2006, 05:36:51 AM
Quote
Tsarfan, I don't think anyone here is claiming that the marriage of Nicholas and Alexandra was a "sham", just that it wasn't, especially in the latter years, that idyll of perfection so many people think it was.


My statement was perhaps not clearly written.  I am among those who feel that the marriage was far from idyllic.  My original reference about the supposed idyll referred to the numerous posts on other threads that characterize Nicholas and Alexandra's marriage as one of unsullied bliss.  
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Grace on January 04, 2006, 05:42:36 AM
Tsarfan, I owe you an apology.  I think I was actually replying to a post from RichC.

Sorry about that.  I need to go to bed.  ::)

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Eddie_uk on January 04, 2006, 06:42:16 AM
Quote

Yes, you are right, Eddieboy, it's a very telling statement indeed.

I don't think anyone here is claiming that the marriage of Nicholas and Alexandra was a "sham", just that it wasn't, especially in the latter years, that idyll of perfection so many people think it was.

Also, Rasputin didn't keep the Tsarevich alive - he couldn't - he was only a mortal human being.



I am sure though that Nicky and Alicky were very very deeply in love right up to the end.  :) :)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: RichC on January 04, 2006, 08:38:51 AM
Quote

I don't think anyone here is claiming that the marriage of Nicholas and Alexandra was a "sham", just that it wasn't, especially in the latter years, that idyll of perfection so many people think it was.

Also, Rasputin didn't keep the Tsarevich alive - he couldn't - he was only a mortal human being.

Regarding Queen Victoria - yes, she did surround herself for a long time with many relics of Albert - but she did not regard them as magical.  In all the books I've read about QV, I have never heard the Italy/portrait story so I would have to think it's maybe a bit of a tall story from somewhere and most biographers of QV have agreed that her relationship with John Brown was close, but not sexual.

As for those people who get excited about a cheese sandwich that appears to have the shape of the Virgin Mary on it - as they say, there's one born every day... ::)

Please note that I am not ridiculing anyone's religious faith - just the improbable such as weeping statues, magic combs and the like.  ;)




Thanks, Grace.  I was trying to put forth an argument that Alexandra wasn't crazy -- odd perhaps, difficult no doubt, but not a "nutcase" per the topic of the thread.  And about their marriage, Tsarfan did use the word "sham" so I wanted to address that.  I knew what he meant, but I disagree.  That's all.

Regarding Rasputin, I didn't mean to convey that I believed he had magic powers to cure Alexei.  Just that Alexandra, and many others, believed he was able to alleviate the boy's suffering.  I don't believe this meant they were nutcases.  I'm not trying to insult anybody's religious beliefs either, but how is believing in Rasputin any different than believing in Lourdes?

The stuff about Queen Victoria is discussed in Christopher Hibbert's Queen Victoria.

RichC
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: leushino on January 04, 2006, 10:26:59 AM
Having been married not once but twice, I can assure you that no marriage is entirely blissful. Those who think this are generally the very young, the inexperienced, and/or the starry-eyed romantics. There are a myriad of ways that partners can get under one another's skin and living with someone of the nature of Alexandra, it would only be natural that one would look for ways to placate her. I'm sure she had her reasons for acting the way she did. Her behavior has been excused a thousand times over... sick son, feelings of guilt, early death of mother, difficulty at court due to inordinate shyness, physical problems resulting from frequent pregnancies... etc. But her meddling and interference in the duties of the tsar... her demanding, almost unnatural control over her grown daughters, her obsession with mysticism/superstition... personally, I find it hard to excuse these. Perhaps if she had had a strong-willed, self-assured husband (i.e. Alexander III), things might have been different. In my opinion, the marriage was a normal one and not the syrupy, sugar-coated fairy-tale union that the inexperienced romantics try to make it. It was what it was: a union of two very imperfect individuals. How could it be otherwise?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tsarfan on January 04, 2006, 10:57:06 AM
Quote

In Chicago recently, the Virgin was said to have appeared on the wall of an underpass near the Kennedy Expressway.  All it was, was melting snow and slush, but a lot of people believed in it.

In regard to the "vaunted idyll" of their marriage, who, specifically, says they had a marriage entirely devoid of any problems?  . . . . But this doesn't make their marriage any less real, or meaningful to them.  And it certainly doesn't make it into a sham.


I live in Chicago and got caught in a traffic jam at the freeway underpass caused by the crowds gathered to venerate the Blessed Virgin on the wall.  I got a clear view of the stain, in which I did not find even a remote resemblance to a human figure, much less to a specific woman appropriately dressed for the part.  The capacity of some people to see what they want to see is truly amazing.  (And I think this applies not just to Virgin sightings, but to what many see as the saintliness of the Imperial Family and the blissful nature of their interpersonal relationships.)

On the rapidly expanding question of the sham marriage, I want to clarify.  I did not say the marriage itself was a sham.  I said that the representation that it was idyllic was a sham.

In fact, I think it was a marriage like many others -- beginning full of conviction that one has found the perfect mate and of hope that this lucky union will bring forth much good for all involved.  I then think it followed the trajectory of almost all marriages, in which each partner grows in their awareness of the other's faults.  What happens next then tells the tale.  Either the partners are mature in coming to terms with what was there all along had they been paying more attention, and they adapt their own expectations of each other, aware that they are each something of a disappointment to the other -- or they instead descend into a blame game, where disillusion turns into acrimony.

My view is that Nicholas and Alexandra took the first route and that their initial flush of enrapturement matured into a strong bond of shared experiences, continued physical attraction, reliance on each other for company in a world where they had few peers or trusted confidantes . . . plus a strong dollop of co-dependence.

However, I think their marriage entered a third stage, brought on by the accumulation of Alexandra's responses to many things -- Alexei's hemophilia, her unsuitability for public life, the jolt of the 1905 revolution and the reminder that her family's position and personal safety was not a given, the growing hostility of her husband's family.

In this latter stage, I think that Alexandra slowly became less a companion to Nicholas and more a pitiable creature in need of care, solicitude and, given her strong personality relative to his, a wide berth on a broadening range of issues.  And I think this forced Nicholas into an increasing array of dilemmas as he tried to walk a tightrope between Alexandra's demands on him and those from all other quarters, which more and more had Alexandra in their sights as Russia's problemo numero uno.

In the latter days at Stavka, many observers said Nicholas appeared to be exhausted and more and more a man who had simply given up.  I do not think it was the military plight or the growing supply line crises, because Nicholas was giving precious little attention to those issues in the final months.  I think he had run out of strategems for keeping some semblance of equilibrium between what his wife demanded and what everyone else demanded of him.

Was she a "nutcase"?  No, I don't think so.  Sanity is, in part, a contextual concept.  As you rightly ask, RichC, where is the line between revering icons and placing faith in magic combs?  There is no objective delineator, other than culture and the weight of numbers.  If millions of people believe in the power of icons, they are all held to be lucid, because we don't generally accept the prospect of mass insanity.  If a few people go a bit further and begin to attach talismanic properties to objects such as combs or water stains on freeway underpasses, we get more comfortable in moving them closer to the insane category -- and generally in direct relationship to their numbers.  Millions revering icons is accepted.  Hundreds revering stains on freeways is comical, but not yet insane.  A tsar using magic combs to affect political outcomes is pretty damn close to the line . . . if not squarely over it.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: RichC on January 04, 2006, 02:08:31 PM
Very interesting observations Tsarfan.  I'm sorry you got caught in that traffic jam!

I know I often come across as a "defender" of Alexandra on this board, but I prefer to consider myself more like Grace -- I just find her very fascinating.  

In overall terms I have always held Nicholas far more responsible for everything that happened rather than Alexandra, but I've sometimes got the impression that the animosity towards her was even greater than that toward Nicholas.  Somehow with Alexandra, it comes across as more personal (I'm not referring to your posts specifically, just posts in general).  It's almost as if I'm more interested in people's reactions to Alexandra more than I'm interested in Alexandra herself!

I guess I see a level of anger directed at this woman which isn't commensurate with what she did.  I'm not sure I see the same level of anger directed at Nicholas and I don't understand why.  Check out the names of the topics on the Nicholas thread:  the worst I could find is titled "Foolish Nicholas" -- and the rest are pretty tame: "Nicholas and Tennis", "Nicholas Rocks", "Nicholas and Toria", "Inability to Reign", and so on.  No topics describing Nicholas as Russia's worst nightmare or as a nutcase, as being a bad dresser or a bad father.  While I do see criticism of Nicholas throughout the board, I don't see it as viscerally focused as I do the criticism of  Alexandra.

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tsarfan on January 04, 2006, 02:49:36 PM
Quote
I guess I see a level of anger directed at this woman which isn't commensurate with what she did.  I'm not sure I see the same level of anger directed at Nicholas and I don't understand why.


I think you're right in your observation, and I think the phenomenon has a name . . . misogyny.  For me, there are some real parallels between the lightning rod that Alexandra became for frustration with Nicholas and the lightning rod that Hillary Rodham Clinton became for her husband.  Thank goodness Alix did not style herself Alexandra Hesse Feodorovna.


Quote
It's almost as if I'm more interested in people's reactions to Alexandra more than I'm interested in Alexandra herself!


A very canny observation, and one that cuts to the quick of my own fascination with Alexandra.  On another long-forgotten thread, we had quite a rollicking discussion about Alexandra's possible psychological state and whether she might have signs of a borderline personality.  The conclusion was almost certainly not.

However, as I said on that thread, I grew up with a mother who exhibited many of Alexandra's traits.  The remarkable thing about her was how utterly average she was in terms of intellect and accomplishments but how extremely her presence influenced the course of other lives as they strove constantly to help her maintain an ever-more-elusive state of mental equilibrium . . . or to escape her presence when it taxed their own endurance.  With no particular merits to warrant her dominion over others, by virtue of her mental state she exerted a rather extreme influence on them, driving them to conduct and expedients they would not have otherwise pursued.

Alexandra was the stimulus, but Nicholas' reaction to her was the relevant story arc, because that's where it all went horribly wrong . . . and where the real blame lies for Russia's dive into the abyss.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Grace on January 04, 2006, 06:01:26 PM
I agree with all the very insightful opinions expressed here.

The point RichC made about far more criticism of Alexandra on these threads than Nicholas is intensely interesting to me and something I hadn't myself picked up.

Nicholas was the Tsar - the ruler.  However, many more blame Alexandra for the calamity of their lives than they do him...I myself seem to have a degree of sympathy for Nicholas but not, I'm afraid, for her...I don't know why.  ???

I don't regard Alexandra as a strong character at all.  Strong characters don't lean on others (i.e. Rasputin) to the degree that she did.  Strong characters are generally pragmatic people and she was anything but this way inclined.  The strong seek advice and guidance from the wise but eventually make their own decisions, blaming no one for the outcome but themselves.

No - Alexandra was more a hard character than a strong one, in my view.  A very big difference.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tsarfan on January 04, 2006, 06:21:09 PM
Neither do I regard Alexandra as a strong character.  I said she was a strong personality, by which I meant not someone with strength of character, but someone driven to assert their will over others.  Disturbed, fearful, haunted people sometimes have this ability in exaggerated measure.  Shy people can be quite resolute and wilful in pursuing their ends through those with whom they are familiar.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on January 04, 2006, 07:06:03 PM
Quote
Neither do I regard Alexandra as a strong character.  I said she was a strong personality, by which I meant not someone with strength of character, but someone driven to assert their will over others.  Disturbed, fearful, haunted people sometimes have this ability in exaggerated measure.  Shy people can be quite resolute and wilful in pursuing their ends through those with whom they are familiar.



Hmmm.  I agree with what every one is saying on the board but yet I still have a hard time considering Alexandra a strong anything.  In my mind, strong characters and strong personalities do not have the codependence and religious fervosity (ferviousness?) that Alexandra had.  To me she has always been a woman very prone to the suggestions of others because she cannot function on her own and has no idea of self worth or self image.  Also, while I see that proneness (?) as nature I also see Alexandra nurtured in an atmosphere steeped in Victorian mysticism augmented by Russian Orthodox spirituality - lethal combinations.  This mysticism and spirituality only exaggerated her susceptibility to suggestion and further inhibited her in becoming her own person.  

Always, her desperation to believe in Rasputin has come across to me as childish - immature, stubborn, and helpless.  All of which Alexandra was.  There was so much potential in her - she could have been a great politik Tsarina.  But fate was against her.  Nothing was stacked in her favor.  And because of this, I always feel sorry for her and her inability to beat the odds.  
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: catt.sydney on January 04, 2006, 07:11:02 PM
Quote
Neither do I regard Alexandra as a strong character.  I said she was a strong personality, by which I meant not someone with strength of character, but someone driven to assert their will over others.  Disturbed, fearful, haunted people sometimes have this ability in exaggerated measure.  Shy people can be quite resolute and wilful in pursuing their ends through those with whom they are familiar.



     Well posted
     So as to avoid any notion of misogyny - might I suggest that Nicholas was weak, shallow, narrow-minded and - despite a fine command of languages - not at all inteligent. He lacked critical thinking skills and was rather 'intelectually lazy' while  Alix had *at best* a middle brow intelect [look at her preferred reading material - sentimental romances in French and English and various religious texts] nevertheless she thought that she was clever and she KNEW that she was RIGHT! Her husband was unwilling to disagree with her.
     Did they love each other?  I don't doubt it.
     Was it all roses and sunshine? I think not.
     Was Alix a "Nutcase"? No, but I suppose from what I have read that she was extreamly emotional and very unstable. She was utterly unqualified to take on the highly public role of a Tsarina - the stress made her emotional state far worse.
Of course, it is possible to make such remarks without being misogynistic.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: leushino on January 04, 2006, 10:47:56 PM
Quote

IThe capacity of some people to see what they want to see is truly amazing.  (And I think this applies not just to Virgin sightings, but to what many see as the saintliness of the Imperial Family and the blissful nature of their interpersonal relationships.)

(snipped)

In fact, I think it was a marriage like many others -- beginning full of conviction that one has found the perfect mate and of hope that this lucky union will bring forth much good for all involved.  I then think it followed the trajectory of almost all marriages, in which each partner grows in their awareness of the other's faults.  What happens next then tells the tale....

My view is that Nicholas and Alexandra took the first route and that their initial flush of enrapturement matured into a strong bond of shared experiences...

However, I think their marriage entered a third stage...

In this latter stage, I think that Alexandra slowly became less a companion to Nicholas and more a pitiable creature in need of care, solicitude and, given her strong personality relative to his, a wide berth on a broadening range of issues.  

In the latter days at Stavka, many observers said Nicholas appeared to be exhausted and more and more a man who had simply given up.  ... I think he had run out of strategems for keeping some semblance of equilibrium between what his wife demanded and what everyone else demanded of him.

... A tsar using magic combs to affect political outcomes is pretty damn close to the line . . . if not squarely over it.


What profound insight! I couldn't agree more with these sections I've quoted above. I'm so encouraged to see that some maintain a balanced view of these individuals. They burped just like the rest of us and it's doubtless they sinned in like manner. And... I'm Orthodox!
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on January 05, 2006, 05:30:54 PM
Sorry to have been so long.

I read about the "magic comb" in Greg King's, The Last Empress.

It's on page 248 and the paragraph reads as follows:

"Following the Russian Orthodox custom of venerating objects belonging to holy men, Alexandra sent her husband a stuffed fish holding a bird impaled on a stick - a gift from Rasputin.  "He sends it to you as a blessing.  She followed this with a photograph of "Our Friend", urging Nicholas to keep it near him at all times so that he could have courage.  Finally, she forwarded a small comb from Rasputin - "Remember to comb your hair before all difficult talks and decisions, the little comb will bring its help."

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on January 05, 2006, 05:51:38 PM
Sorry to post twice, but I was in a hurry to get the post about the "comb" on and then I went back and re-read earlier posts.

I missed the strong adverse reaction to Alix and the gentler one to Nicholas, because I too, have always had that same reaction.

I also had the same reaction to Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Perhaps as a society some of us still don't like to see a woman with opinions.  But did Alexandra have opinions or mystical beliefs?  I rather think that she had a misplaced loyalty and trust in Rasputin becasue of what she preceived he could do for Alexis and all of her tight little portion of the Imperial Family.

I have a sister who controls everyone in the family as one poster said her mother did.  We have all been "tip toeing" around my sister for years.  We almost "quake" at the thought of her paying any of us a visit.  Strangely enough even our own mother feels the strain.

Another interesting source for letters about Rasputin that Alexandra sent to Nicholas is The Life and Times of Grigori Rasputin by Alex DeJonge



Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Elisabeth on January 05, 2006, 06:04:50 PM
Sorry to weigh in like this - it's a very interesting discussion and I value so many of the insights that others have shared here - but doesn't it occur to anyone how absolutely perjorative and unfair it is to refer to a (even just potentially) mentally ill person as a "nutcase"? Mental illness is a real illness of the brain, not something made up or invented by the person suffering from it in order to make other people's lives difficult and unhappy. It's as much a physical disease as diabetes or smallpox. The person who suffers from mental illness is not to blame for that illness and should not be subjected to derogatory terms like "nutcase." I would like to think that we've progressed a little from previous centuries when mental illness was considered the result of the evil character of the sufferer (or her being possessed by the devil).
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Joy0318 on January 05, 2006, 08:43:06 PM
Quote

I don't regard Alexandra as a strong character at all.  Strong characters don't lean on others (i.e. Rasputin) to the degree that she did.  Strong characters are generally pragmatic people and she was anything but this way inclined.  The strong seek advice and guidance from the wise but eventually make their own decisions, blaming no one for the outcome but themselves.


Very well said! I agree. I have never thought of Alexandra as a strong individual. A person with a strong character would not have fallen under the influences of Rapsutin so easily. I think she was strong-willed and stubborn but that is different from being a strong individual.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Janet_W. on January 05, 2006, 08:45:24 PM
Thank you, Elisabeth. My thoughts exactly.  ;)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tsarfan on January 05, 2006, 08:49:47 PM
Quote
The person who suffers from mental illness is not to blame for that illness and should not be subjected to derogatory terms like "nutcase."


What can I say other than, "when you're right, you're right."  I'm a bit appalled at myself for repeating the term without registering its inappropriateness.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Louis_Charles on January 05, 2006, 10:43:36 PM
This has been a very interesting thread to read. The insights are deep and the compassion for this flawed man and woman profound.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on January 06, 2006, 11:52:11 AM
You are absolutely right.

No one should be labeled.

It is good to be reminded of that.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Nadezhda Edvardovna on January 08, 2006, 02:07:58 PM
First off, I'd say "nutcase" isn't a terribly good word to characterize Alexandra.  And I like the comparison with Princess Diana--stressed-out public women who have been characterized by their detractors as mentally ill.

It's a risky proposition, psychoanalyzing the dead, but here's my perspective:

Times of stress cause the body to produce adrenalin--that "flight or fight" response.  And modern science has shown that excessive exposure to adrenalin, especially in youth, damages the pathways of the brain that conduct information.

Depression can be understood as a form of misprocessed information, and can result from the excessive exposure to adrenalin.  Certainly, from a very young age, Alexandra suffered from stress (death of mother, brother, etc.) and this may have predisposed her to suffer from some sort of mental illness.  Add in more stress associated with the conflict between her personality and the life she chose for herself, and voila! It seems that some kind of mental illness was, for her, almost inevitable.

Oftentimes I have read that Princess Diana, who has been posthumously diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (among other things), might have had a chance at a happy and healthy life had she not been Princess of Wales.  Her position obviated any chance of truly effective treatment.  How much more so it must have been for Alexandra, in an age when mental illness wasn't understood, was believed a personal failing, and a century before effective medical treatments were developed?

I say all these things because I recognize her in myself.  Reading about her, the first diagnosis which comes to mind is always panic disorder.  I'd also wonder about post-traumatic stress disorder--it's not just for veterans anymore.  And finally, at risk of angering anyone, it's not impossible to me to suggest that there may also have been a substance abuse problem--laudanum, an opium derivative, was found in many seemingly innocuous household remedies, and alcohol was easily available and socially acceptable in her day.  

BEFORE you flame me on that one, that's just a SUGGESTION--I'm NOT saying the lady was an alcoholic and I KNOW there's no evidence to support it.  I'm just "thinking aloud" as it were.

But the panic attacks--that one I'm sure of.

Peace

Nadezhda
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Nadezhda Edvardovna on January 08, 2006, 02:45:16 PM
One possible explanation for her shyness is fear of being judged.  If her parents, nannies, or governesses had been hypercritical, and she desperate to please, she may have grown up terrified to say or do ANYTHING.

At any rate, it seems worth making a distinction between shyness as an emotion (not controllable) and failing to fulfill one's duty (controllable.)

I think it isn't fair to criticize her for her shyness, but it is reasonable to judge her efficacy as a public person.

Peace

Nadezhda (who seems rather talkative today!)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: calebGmoney on January 08, 2006, 05:12:38 PM
i don't think she was just 'shy'. I think she was just strange in a way. The way that she depended on Rasputin and thought he could do no wrong even though everyone including her own sister warned her of what he was doing is just strange to me. I don't know what it was with her and Rasputin, but to me it was an obsession with Rasputin, not his ability to heal her son (and by obsession I don't mean anything sexual).
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on January 08, 2006, 05:25:21 PM
Yes, I have seen the secret garden movie, and I think that is indeed the idea, or at least as close as we can ever get to it. I watched that film again and again when I was younger but never thought of of it! Thanks for pointing that out! :)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on January 08, 2006, 06:20:18 PM
Alexandra was not a nutcase, and indeed this is a term of disrespect, as someone else stated before, we should be careful of how we say things. I think she wasn't strong as a person because she had a certain temprament, and had things thrown at her which she fought against, but which, like anyone else pressured her alot.She can be criticized for handling things certain ways, as we all can, and we needn't take it more seriously than we would with each other. I think she was shy, and shyness is the same at any age, although I don't speak from experience, but character doesn't change as we age, not essential character anyway. Expecting her to be able to beat her shyness completely just because she was a certain age is unrealistic.

Personality is a factor we can't control, nor should be blamed for. She was strong in that she did try to force her opinion on on people about issues, and she thought she was never wrong because she was who she was, an Empress.  And royalty of that day were trained in this mindset, that they were right, and differences of opinion, are only people's opinions, who is to say who is wrong or right? She belonged to a different era, and was royalty, and we cannot understand her as we can some contemporary figure, and even then we can't get inside anyone's head. She had many challenges, and was stressed, and stress can do alot to people in possibly acting like they are a bit unstable. The marriage that Nicholas and Alexandra had was a good one, I am sure that there were the common stressors of any marriage, but I doubt that Nicholas tried to get away from Alexandra too much at all. Their marriage wasn't perfect, but who's is, anyway? They were partners who had a mariage to be admired. Alexandra is interesting, but hard to understand as are some people in history and life, but we should be fair. She was supersitious about Rasputin, and the comb story illustrates this, and it was faith that went too far. The comb story also illustrates the hold that she had on Nicholas, the bond they had that she supposed he would listen to her instructions. Did he? It is hard to know, but it seems Nicholas was more of common sense than Alexandra  who was an intellectual, who may have overthought things. And isn't there any old saying '' the wisdom of the wise is merely common sense''?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on January 08, 2006, 07:13:14 PM
I have been thinking about the posters who said that we are far more likely to absolve Nicholas of his shortcommings than we are to forgive Alix for hers.

I just finished reading a lot to find the references for the comb.  In my reading with my new insight about our differing treatment of Nicholas and Alexandra, I realized that most authors also have that mind set.

Nicholas is usually forgiven and Alexandra in censured.

But and this is a big but,  Alix's contemporaries also judged her more harshly.  They never suggested that Nicholas be sent to a monestary, but Alix was to be sent to a convent and so be removed from exercising her bad judgement and evil control over the IF.

I think that our judgement of her is colored by not only our own romanticism, but by the authors we read and the people they are quoting.  They are quoting people who knew Alix and lived in her time and world.

We are always saying that we are judging her from a perspective of 88 years or more, but the people who lived in St. Petersburg when she did judged her more harshly, too.

By the way, the DeJonge book also mentions the comb, but not as a quote.  Only in a paragraph which is paraphrased.

If Rasputin was a filthy as he was said to be, would anyone here use a comb that he had used?  The first thing that comes to mind is lice!

I know there is no proof that Nicholas followed every bit of advice that Alexandra passed on to him, but that fact that she had the "bit in her teeth" and was at the point where she felt she could pass on this advice shows how uncertain her mental state must have been.

One last thing.  About our interpretaion of Nicholas's behavior in opposition to our treatment of Alix's.  I read and re-read a lot of info looking for the comb stuff and was newly impressed by Nicholas's "weak hubby" responses to Alix's letters.

Was he humoring her or was he as mentally unstable as we think she was.  This is the Tsar of all the Russians at Stavka commanding an army in wartime and he is signing himself "your weak willed hubby".
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: RichC on January 09, 2006, 08:22:50 AM
Quote
I have been thinking about the posters who said that we are far more likely to absolve Nicholas of his shortcommings than we are to forgive Alix for hers.

I just finished reading a lot to find the references for the comb.  In my reading with my new insight about our differing treatment of Nicholas and Alexandra, I realized that most authors also have that mind set.

Nicholas is usually forgiven and Alexandra in censured.

But and this is a big but,  Alix's contemporaries also judged her more harshly.  They never suggested that Nicholas be sent to a monestary, but Alix was to be sent to a convent and so be removed from exercising her bad judgement and evil control over the IF.

We are always saying that we are judging her from a perspective of 88 years or more, but the people who lived in St. Petersburg when she did judged her more harshly, too.

I know there is no proof that Nicholas followed every bit of advice that Alexandra passed on to him, but that fact that she had the "bit in her teeth" and was at the point where she felt she could pass on this advice shows how uncertain her mental state must have been.

One last thing.  About our interpretaion of Nicholas's behavior in opposition to our treatment of Alix's.  I read and re-read a lot of info looking for the comb stuff and was newly impressed by Nicholas's "weak hubby" responses to Alix's letters.

Was he humoring her or was he as mentally unstable as we think she was.  This is the Tsar of all the Russians at Stavka commanding an army in wartime and he is siging himself "your weak willed hubby".


When I made the comment, AlixZ, about judging Alexandra more harshly than Nicholas, I was thinking mainly about this board, but you are right that she was judged more harshly by her contemporaries (at least those who wrote memoirs, left diaries, or letters) than Nicholas.  For example, GD Nicholas Mikhailovich, the "liberal" historian, and so-called intellectual in the Romanov family, referred to Alexandra as the "Hessian Hussy".  His biographer says that the Grand Duke could not bring himself to attack or insult the person of the Tsar, but the Empress, the next best thing, was fair game.  I wonder if this was the case for many exiles who left recollections behind.  I suspect it is.

There's one huge exception, however, to the theory: the Bolsheviks.  They reserved their most venemous public announcements for Nicholas.  They knew who was calling the shots and it wasn't Alexandra.  I don't recall Lenin ever referring to "Alexandra the Blood-drinker".  
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on January 09, 2006, 09:33:28 AM
RichC  You are so right.

But I always have at least one cautionary:  Lenin had just made a separate peace with Germany.  He wasn't about to annoy the Kaiser by going on about the Kaiser's cousin.  He didn't need to anyway.

He already had the Imperial Family in flight or in prision.
All he has to do was wait.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on January 10, 2006, 10:03:23 AM
It does seem that we judge Alexandra more harshly than Nicholas, perhaps because we cannot understand her as well, Nicholas seems easier to understand as far as personality goes. Alexandra was so different, had such different viewpoints than we have, and doesn't seem so human. We can say about Nicholas that his failings can  be ascribed to human factors and personality, but how can we explain Alexandra? She is harder to understand and there is so much we can say and say to explain the way she was except perhaps understanding her as she was in her own era, without our numerous modern factors that we drag in with Alexandra.I think this is why there is those whole debate about her being a nutcase to begin with, in my opinion, which she wasn't, of course. ;)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: leushino on January 10, 2006, 10:17:50 AM
Nutcase? Well.... if by that the OP was suggesting that perhaps she was insane, I would have to disagree. Dysfunctional? Meddlesome? Manipulative? Demanding? Controlling? Cold? Superstitious? Well... it seems to me that there exists quite good information to support these claims... far better than to simply dismiss all of the facts that have been recorded and conclude that she was just a poorly understood, harshly treated, loving and doting mother. I'm sure she (like all of us) was a combination of good and bad personality factors. In her case there appears to be some evidence that she had some outstanding personality disorders to the extent that they hampered her in her normal everyday functions. Her reliance upon a dirty scoundrel like Rapsutin when she had ample evidence that he was anything but a holy man... a starets... her refusal to listen to anyone else in the matter but simply dismiss anyone (including her own sister) who held to contrary opinions on the matter, suggest a stubborn, obsessive-compulsive, dysfunctional personality. While her intentions (to save her son) were honorable, her methods seem to demonstrate someone with acute personality disorders.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on January 10, 2006, 05:34:37 PM
leushino  You have said it completely the best.



Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on January 11, 2006, 08:20:32 AM
I really doubt that she had any personality disorders, it is rather unlikely, to say the least, I don't think she did. She was a complicated person, who lived a complicated life, and after all this it is rather hard to separate truth from fiction to some people which is easily understandable given eveeything. She is a bit harder to appreciate than some, and certainly made mistakes, that can't be denied, but nutcase, or personality disorders? To me this seems a bit extreme, anyway. ;)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: leushino on January 11, 2006, 09:32:53 AM
Setting aside personal feelings and just examining the preponderance of evidence, it seems reasonable to conclude that the empress very definitely had some personality disorders... not the least of which was her willingness to rely upon Rasputin when all about her told her in no uncertain terms that he was a charlatan, a womanizer and spelled disaster for the empire. It's one thing to excuse all of her intolerable behavior due to her guilty-induced obsession over the well-being of her sick son, and quite another to deny her even threatening her own sister to never speak to her again regarding the so-called starets. And this is only one example of many (i.e. the magical comb yet another) that should indicate someone with psychological problems. How many ministers... capable ones at that... were dismissed because of her meddling... her refusal to listen to anyone in the family or in authority other than her precious Rasputin? The death of Stolypin and her remarks following his death are evidence of someone with a vindictive streak and an unwillingness to forgive. Her own manner of dealing with her daughters.. particularly the elder ones through letter writing... and their fear of disturbing her... all points to someone with strong personality disorders.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Joy0318 on January 11, 2006, 10:11:12 AM
Quote
leushino  You have said it completely the best.





I agree 150%. I don't think it could have been said any better. A brilliant post, leushino!
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: leushino on January 11, 2006, 11:03:03 AM
Shucks. I'm speechless!  :)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on January 11, 2006, 05:46:06 PM
Perhaps "speechless" but certainly very perceptive.

As I said before, those who were her comtemporaries judged her and her actions harshly.

They were there, we were not.  Whatever the reasons behind her actions, her motivations or her mystical beliefs, she was not unknowable to them.  They recognized her short comings and tried to get Nicholas to take action.

Didn't someone once say that having Rasputin in the palace was likened to having "Og move into the White House?"  (I am going to have to look up the meaning of Og, although I tend to think it may be biblical or mythological.)

Look at who our presidents were and who was sovereign of the UK during this time.  Can you see any of them, for any reason, allowing a Rasputin like figure even close their families or their governments?

Alexis's illness not withstanding.  Again, and I have said this in other threads, I can not see Queen Mary letting him in to treat Prince John.  That is a an analogy of Alix's contemporaries who had similar problems.  And I know that PJ wasn't the heir and only son, but still...

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on January 12, 2006, 10:07:58 AM
This stuff happened in Russia- and that was a very different country than Uk, than America. Alexandra's personality and outlook on life was very different than her British cousins although they were relatives. She had more difficult challenges. She certainly did not always behave in a perfect manner, but what was right for her, was not right for everybody else at all, and cannot be judged by anybody's else's standards.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Grace on January 12, 2006, 02:53:18 PM
Quote
This stuff happened in Russia- and that was a very different country than Uk, than America. Alexandra's personality and outlook on life was very different than her British cousins although they were relatives. She had more difficult challenges. She certainly did not always behave in a perfect manner, but what was right for her, was not right for everybody else at all, and cannot be judged by anybody's else's standards.


Yes, but she wasn't just a wife and a mother of a sick boy, she was Empress of all the Russias - she had a significant role to play and was in a position of great influence, both to her husband and to her country.

My problem with her is that she ignored/misused these privileges.  Some of her behaviour was clearly not right for her - or for anyone else.  I think that is what she is judged on most.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: RichC on January 12, 2006, 06:46:32 PM
Quote

Alexis's illness not withstanding.  Again, and I have said this in other threads, I can not see Queen Mary letting him in to treat Prince John.  That is a an analogy of Alix's contemporaries who had similar problems.  And I know that PJ wasn't the heir and only son, but still...



I have to agree with Imperial Angel on this one, AlixZ.  Let's imagine that Alexandra had married the heir to the British throne and eventually became Queen of England.  We never would have seen a Rasputin type there, even if she'd had numerous hemophiliac sons.  Everything about her situation in Russia so different.  Britain was a very stable country wtih a stable government.  The succession wasn't nearly as vital as it was in Russia.  I don't think that Queen Mary had nearly the stress and responsibility that Empress Alexandra had in Russia.

I personally think that Empress Alexandra was very much like her grandmother, Queen Victoria, in her personality (how many people liked QV on a personal level?)  But QV is remembered, revered even, as one of the greatest British monarchs, certainly the greatest 19th century monarch.  While Alexandra, well, what's this thread called again?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Grace on January 12, 2006, 07:03:03 PM
Quote

I personally think that Empress Alexandra was very much like her grandmother, Queen Victoria, in her personality (how many people liked QV on a personal level?)  But QV is remembered, revered even, as one of the greatest British monarchs, certainly the greatest 19th century monarch.  While Alexandra, well, what's this thread called again?


Oh, RichC, no, no!  

Alexandra did not have her grandmother's inherent wisdom and keen judgement about people, her devotion to duty, her interest in her large family, her warmth, her humour.

The only similarity I can see is when Victoria withdrew from public life for quite some time after the death of Prince Albert. That was like Alexandra.  Unlike Alexandra, however, she came out of it, determined to perform her duties and live life to the full again.  
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on January 12, 2006, 07:47:58 PM
I truly believe that no where else in Europe would Rasputin have been welcomed as he was in Russia.

The Russian belief system was just so different.  And that is my point.  No where else would  a consort of the head of state have gotten into the situation that Alix did with Rasputin.

Whatever made her tick, I doubt that she could have gotten away with his presence as another poster said if she had been married to Eddy and been Queen of England.

But even though the succession was not as "all at stake" as it was in Russia, I doubt she would have felt differently about her son and heir if he had hemophilia even if she was in England, not Russia.

Her nature would have made her just as worried and obsessed with his health.  However as a constitutional consort, she would have been barred from interferring in governement.

So I guess what I am trying to say is that she would not have been different in her reactions to her son's problems, but those around her would have held her in check.

And, please correct me if I am wrong, but the Anglican Chruch does not seem to hold with the mysteries of the Orthodox Chruch.  I don't think Alix would have had those avenues to explore.

And furthermore, if she had married Eddy, and he had lived, she would have been living right with her savvy Grandmother QV who would have kept her on the straight path.

Mourning a dead consort is one thing but entertaining a filthy, illeterate, quasi holy man is quite another.  I know that QV died before Rasputin come on the scene in Russia. but somehow I think that living with her would have curbed Alix's otherwordly bent.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: leushino on January 12, 2006, 10:26:00 PM
I throw in my support on the positions held by Alixz and Grace. The conditions in Russia did not exist elsewhere.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: RichC on January 12, 2006, 10:34:09 PM
Quote

Oh, RichC, no, no!  

Alexandra did not have her grandmother's inherent wisdom and keen judgement about people, her devotion to duty, her interest in her large family, her warmth, her humour.

The only similarity I can see is when Victoria withdrew from public life for quite some time after the death of Prince Albert. That was like Alexandra.  Unlike Alexandra, however, she came out of it, determined to perform her duties and live life to the full again.  



Well, I'm sorry to disagree with you, Grace, but I'm basing my opinion (and it's only my opinion, of course) on what I've read about QV, her life with Prince Albert, her life after he died, and her later years.  In my view, Queen Victoria, at least in her younger years, was a very difficult, selfish woman.  Prince Albert's letters to Stockmar bear this out.  Not until she was an old woman, did QV's "good side" emerge, including her warmth, humor, and her devotion to duty.   Alexandra did not live to be an old woman, so we don't know what she would have been like.

I can't imagine Princess Alice, or Edward VII, describing their mother as "warm"; not the way she treated them.  How can a woman who blamed her own son for his father's death be described as "warm"?  

One difference I would note between QV and Alexandra would be that QV was probably far better educated, and probably more intelligent than Alexandra.  Other than that, I suspect that QV was a real piece of work.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Grace on January 12, 2006, 10:46:02 PM
No problem, RichC, we're here to discuss and disagree, I guess!  :D

You have raised some good points about QV, and some true ones too.  I suppose I base most of my thoughts about her when she was into quite old age, when she had very definitely mellowed and developed much greater feelings of appreciation and love towards her family, probably Bertie in particular.  She could be quite cruel in her earlier days and brutally truthful.

So, yes, quite rightly said.

It's interesting to ponder what AF may have been like in older age, say, if the IF had got to England to live out the rest of their lives.  She may have relaxed and become a quite different person.  We'll never know...
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: RichC on January 13, 2006, 12:07:12 AM
Hi Grace,

I definitely admire QV in her later years.  She was a very good influence on Alexandra, no doubt.  I've read one of QV's letters to Nicholas, where she discusses "Alix" and encourages Nicholas to take things slow with the marriage plans, pay close attention to Alix's health, etc.  I'm sure QV knew what Alexandra was getting into when she announced she was marrying into the Russian imperial family, and as she herself said, it made her "blood run cold".  

But just a few years earlier she was championing Alix as a wife for Eddy (a man who needed a steadying influence, no less!)  So, what are we to make of that?  QV must have thought that Alix would have made a fine Queen of England, but Russia was *not* the place for her.  How right she was!
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on January 13, 2006, 06:19:43 AM
I seem to remember from Queen Victoria's Daughters that QV refused to pay for a trip for Alice and the children to come to see her at one point.

Alice was too poor and had to stay in cheap lodgings to make the trip.

QV wasn't "warm" at that point.  Savvy and practical in some ways and just plain difficult at others.

But she did caution Alix "not to get too proud" so perhaps she already saw the seeds of Alix's future.  Just maybe she saw that Alix would let being a Russian Tsaritsa go to her head.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on January 13, 2006, 08:51:01 AM
Queen Victoria and Alexandra did have some similarities, and whether it was the good or the negative I will let others decide. Certainly both were complicated women, who are important in history, but remembered in sadly differing ways. If only Alexandra had been Queen Consort of another country things would not have gotten out of control as they did in Russia. It was a country were it might have been easier for Alexandra than elsewhere to make mistakes.If Alexandra had lived longer, and maybe allowed to mellow, she might be remembered in a better fashion, and if Queen Victoria had died during her years of isolation after Prince Albert's death, instead of living to old age, and dying in 1901, she might be remembered more negatively.These are factors. And both were strong passionate women, who did not allow anything to get in the way of them, they were both historical characters who fascinate, although Alexandra might have done better somewhere else, or perhaps not. But she was never a nutcase, and was misunderstood.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: leushino on January 13, 2006, 09:31:47 AM
Quote
If only Alexandra had been Queen Consort of another country things would not have gotten out of control as they did in Russia. It was a country were it might have been easier for Alexandra than elsewhere to make mistakes.I... But she was never a nutcase, and was misunderstood.


I agree with the statement that Russia was a country where it was easier for Alexandra's dysfunctional behavior to have greater repercussions. BUT I disagree on two other points:

The idea that "things might not have gotten out of control" in Russia if Alexandra had been queen consort elsewhere is hardly realistic. The dynasty was living on borrowed time and its demise was long overdue. Alexandra's behavior, Rasputin's unhealthy influence and Nicholas' indecision and refusal to give power to the Duma certainly hastened the inevitable.

As for the "nutcase" descriptive.. we seem to be talking in circles. I don't think anyone here in this thread believes the woman to have been this and it seems to me that we've all said that such a derogatory term is inappropriate. Thus it would seem that this thread has run its course. Was Alexandra a nutcase? The simple answer: no. End of thread? Just a thought.  ???
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: ChristineM on January 13, 2006, 02:37:59 PM
I have steadfastly ignored this thread because of its title.  

Reading through the posts, I agree - it is the same discussion going round in circles.  

I would like to offer another area of thought regarding the mental state of Alexandra Feodorovna.   Probably I should begin another thread.

Nobody has addressed the physical, mental and emotional state of Alexandra Feodorovna under house arrest and in exile, facing -  what they most certainly knew would be inevitable - DEATH.

tsaria
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Robert_Hall on January 13, 2006, 03:03:27 PM
The point has been raised that Alexandra was acting rather dysfunctionaly long before any exile and or death sentence. How she conducted hersalf in those circumstances does perhaps merit a different thread.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on January 13, 2006, 05:37:41 PM
It is truly too bad that the "nutcase" title was used in this thread.

Perhaps the original poster could be prompted to change the title of the query.

It does seem true that this is the same old "Alexandra at fault" theme, but because this forum is so large with so many threads it is often not possible for the new comers to check them all before beginning what to them seems a new point.

However, there is always something of interest here, such as RichC's comment that we all tend to forgive Nicholas and harshly judge Alexandra.  I picked that up to show that various authors and even Alix's contemporaries judged her more harshly than they judged him.

That might not have happened if this thread had not been started whatever it was called.

I just believe that something is always learned from these discussions even when the title of the query is "ill advised".

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on January 16, 2006, 10:30:48 AM
Well, it is a bad title, but yes, we all have different things to say, variously, and we each have our opinions at different moments in time, and having these threads, is good because different people contribute, and different debates ensure, because we all contribite to one thread, and then maybe different people contribute to a thread that might have a topic a little bit like another thread.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Grace on January 16, 2006, 08:10:12 PM
As has been said, this thread may be going around in circles but that in part would be due to the fact that in these "politically correct" times, no one is game to say that Alexandra F. was a "nutcase" even if they may privately think so.

I don't think she had any mental illness, such as schizophrenia or similar and "nutcase" is a poor description, I agree, but from her behaviour, I DO regard her as a bit of a "nutcase", yes.

I've decided to stop beating around the bush.  ::)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: leushino on January 16, 2006, 10:51:00 PM
I completely agree with your assessment. If by nutcase we mean that she was mentally unbalanced and insane, then no... I doubt anyone here believes this. But if by nutcase we mean someone with some very odd behavioral quirks, then I'd agree that in my view she was a bit of a nutcase.

But since I've been villified for even suggesting this and since it appears that we're simply running in circles, it's the last I'll post in this particular thread. I don't mean to bring offense to any by my views. But I do hope that we are all free to express our views (as long as we do so civily and respectfully) without fear of reprisal or alienation. Peace. :-/
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Joy0318 on January 17, 2006, 10:21:44 AM
I agree with those who say "nutcase"  is an inappropriate term. Perhaps the original poster should have worded it differently.

But IMO this question comes down to what did they mean by "nutcase?"  Did they mean insane or just  emotionally unstable?

I do not think she was psychotic or insane or suffering from any severe mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. There is no evidence of that.

Was she neurotic or emotionally unstable? I have to say yes to this one. I think she likely suffered from depression and anxiety. Many of these problems went back to her childhood and all the emotional pain she had suffered as a little  girl. Her brothers death. Her mothers. Her sisters.  I think these events devasted her and she became very withdrawn and shy.  Her personality was not really suited to be the wife of the Tsar-autocrat.

And the situation with her son only complicated things. I think she blamed herself for Alexei's illness.  I can understand her concern and worry for the child  but  I think she did so excessively.  People who suffer from too much anxiety tend to do this. She allowed her concern for Alexei to consume her.

So IMO  Alix was not a "nutcase." She was simply a woman with some emotional problems but she was definitely not psychotic or insane.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on January 17, 2006, 11:01:57 AM
Some emotional problems ( separate from mental problems) could be.. and perhaps misinterpretation,too, but she didn't have disorders. If she had anything, it could have been emotional problems/issues.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tania+ on January 17, 2006, 01:14:50 PM
I think (imho) the title should be changed. To entitle any heading to lead with the term 'nutcase' - is definately a label. In so much as a person may be assessed, or suspected of having any type of mental illness, it is unfair (whether they are alive, or deceased) to label them. It's all the more unfair, if one is deceased, certainly unable to defend themselves. Everyone has something 'quirky' thought of by another, but that should afford us deeper understanding, in not to jump to conclusions. Fairness is all that is asked. If it were you, or a loved one, i'm sure you would speak up as well. We are human, and not perfect. Thanks.

Tatiana


Quote
It is truly too bad that the "nutcase" title was used in this thread.

Perhaps the original poster could be prompted to change the title of the query.

It does seem true that this is the same old "Alexandra at fault" theme, but because this forum is so large with so many threads it is often not possible for the new comers to check them all before beginning what to them seems a new point.

However, there is always something of interest here, such as RichC's comment that we all tend to forgive Nicholas and harshly judge Alexandra.  I picked that up to show that various authors and even Alix's contemporaries judged her more harshly than they judged him.

That might not have happened if this thread had not been started whatever it was called.

I just believe that something is always learned from these discussions even when the title of the query is "ill advised".


Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on January 18, 2006, 08:08:29 AM
Yes, the title should be changed, because no where else have I heard Alexandra called something this extreme, but only the original poster can change it, I believe.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Joy0318 on January 18, 2006, 09:37:31 AM
I agree that the title should be changed. Not only is "nutcase" labeling but I find it very derogatory. Maybe the title could be changed to Alexandra's personality or something.

And I think that a moderator or administrator can probably change the title as well. At least that is the case on some of the other forums I'm a member of.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on January 21, 2006, 06:15:46 PM
It is a matter of political correctness.

While I have a lot of problems with "political correctness",  in most situations it has caused us, as a society,  to reconsider how we interact with one another.

It has also helped us to become more "sensitive" to others and their points of view.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Grace on January 22, 2006, 02:38:57 PM
Can we stop being so politically correct and get on with the discussion, please?  :)  
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on January 22, 2006, 05:53:59 PM
Yay Grace!
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on January 22, 2006, 10:04:54 PM
The discussion is about Alexandra, and whether she was mentally unstable, had emotional issues, or was misinterpreted. Perhaps after all the words we have written on this subject, we could sum all of this up in a nutshell or one word , or two.. my one word to describe Alexandra's mental state would be ''misinterpreted''.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: clockworkgirl21 on April 10, 2006, 07:41:41 PM
I heard that Aleksandra had this. Isn't it where you get dizzy if you're up too high? Anyone have any information?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on April 16, 2006, 04:49:50 PM
Vertigo is a dizziness that can happen whether or not you get up in a high place.

I have it and it can be terrible.  It makes you feel as if the room is spinning around you.  I know I am sitting still, but the room seems to be moving and it makes me sick to my stomach if I don't close my eyes.

It can make walking very tough and I wouldn't dare drive when I have an attack.

As to whether or not Alix had it, I have never read anywhere that she did.

It can be connected with acrophobia or a fear of heights.  I think that is where the theory comes in that it only happens when someone is up in a high place.  They look down and the ground seems to spin.

Alix had bad headaches maybe "migraines" (most headaches were called migraines (pronounced "meegrims") in the 19th century).

I have very bad migraines and I think that vertigo may be connected with the headaches.

I will keep an eye out in future research for any reference to Alix and vertigo.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Ra-Ra-Rasputin on April 17, 2006, 06:42:46 AM
I've never heard of Alexandra suffering from vertigo, but it's possible; she had a lot of ailments.

Vertigo is exactly like what Alixz described; the only thing I can compare it with is when you've had too much to drink and everything spins round when you lie down.  However, you don't have to be lying down to experience that spinning feeling when you have vertigo, and attacks can last for weeks at a time- my dad couldn't get out of bed for two weeks once when he had it.

Vertigo is actually caused by a fluid imbalance in the inner ear.  I don't know what triggers it though.  Migraines could indeed be a cause.

Rachel
xx
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: anna11 on August 06, 2006, 08:25:36 AM
My dad and I were talking about it. I don't mean like, insane but just a bit kooky. I'm no expert(unlike alot of you) but I think she must have had something wrong in the head to convince herself she was pregnant for seven months. Or was she avtually pregnant and miscarried? I'm not sure. And also I read somewhere that alot of her sicknesses were probably all in the head. I'm not suprised by this, because it happens to alot of people.


Can you shed some light on the subject for me?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Sarushka on August 06, 2006, 08:33:31 AM
There are already many threads on this topic; one of which you started yourself:

Alexandra a nutcase? (http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php/topic,5160.0.html)
Causes and effects of Alexandra's illnesses (http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php/topic,4247.0.html)
Alexandra's medical problems (http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php/topic,4196.0.html)
Alexandra and Panic Disorder? (http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php/topic,1698.0.html)

Please add to one of them rather than starting another conversation.  :)


Edited by Alixz on 04/30/2009  Most of these threads have been combined under a new thread called Alexandra and her "illnesses"
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: carkuczyn on August 20, 2006, 12:12:45 AM
if there are any doctors who participate in this discussion forum, maybe you could enlighten me on something......i have often wondered if a being a hemophilia carrier can make a person more susceptible to other illnesses.  i am thinking that maybe some of alix's health problems can be directly related to her hemophilia gene.  has any research been done on this?  thanks for any information you can give.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: sparrowshell on August 21, 2006, 08:52:39 PM
This is an odd topic ... but as one who suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I wondered if perhaps anyone else has ever considered if (after reading Massie's book about Nicholas and Alexandra) Alexandra had CFS?  There are many times throughout the book that she certainly showed symptoms of it, to which I can relate to.

After having had  5 children, and constantly keeping an eye on Alexis, all of this would certainly have taken a toll on Alexandra's health. And the book goes on to say that it affected her health in such a way, that Dr's didn't know what her problem was. They sent her to health spas etc. but never knew what was wrong. She had to spend hours in bed each day, couldn't walk, couldn't go out, couldn't socialise much, and even had to be wheeled around in a wheelchair sometimes!!!

There are a number of different accounts coming from even people outside of the family who talked about her and her health troubles: having to lie down very often, always exhausted, fainting spells, tiredness, even sensitive to sounds etc. etc. ... here is one account:

"I found myself alone with the Tsaritsa, who asked me to take a chair on her left. The poor lady seemed worn out ... suddenly she put her hands to her ears. Then with a pained and pleading glance she timidly pointed to the ship's band quite near to us which had just started on a furious allegro with a full battery of brass and big drums.
" ' Couldn't you?' ... she murmured.
"I signalled sharply to the conductor ... the young Grand Duchess Olga (eldest daughter) had been observing us for some minutes with an anxious eye. She suddenly rose, glided towards her mother with graceful ease and whispered two or three words in her ear. Then addressing me, she continued, 'The Empress is rather tired, but she asks you to stay, Monsieur l' Ambassadeur, and to go on talking to her.' "

It is interesting, considering that Dr's could never find what was wrong with her. But just looking through a lot of old photos from the Romanov Family Albums, of her available on a website:

http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/romanov_album.htm

there's many of her lying down, with family, friends around her, there's even one of her in her wheelchair, being wheeled through the garden by a soldier!

Who knows ... I could be looking for a needle in a haystack! It's just that it would be nice to know that other people suffered with CFS years ago (even though it's not a pleasant illness to have), and to be able to prove that CFS is not a "new" disorder!

Something interesting to think about!
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Guinastasia on August 21, 2006, 09:01:55 PM
Definetly a possibility.  Who knows? 

IT could also have just been plain old stress and depression.  Depression can take a toll on your health, big time.

As for the wheelchair, she had sciatica, which can be quite painful-my mother has it.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on August 22, 2006, 09:46:44 PM
With Alexandra, her illness always seemed more psychological than physiological.  When she wanted to, or rather when she felt called to "duty" (Alexandra always thrived when she was needed, which is why she blossomed during her nursing work), Alexandra could be quite active and healthy even rowdy.  Not exactly someone with a debilitating illness.  Sure, CF Syndrome could be a possibility, but IMO it does not entirely fit Alexandra. 
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on August 28, 2006, 12:58:54 PM
It could be, but it seems stress that was unavoidable for her, caused many of her illnesses. She could not avoid it, nor perhaps change the way she dealt with it, although that might have been one step to being better. Stress is psychological, but rather unavoidable sometimes, as it was for Alexandra. She could not choose when she was ill or something, nor is there any doubt that she was ill, but whether the cause was more psychological than physical is the issue.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Nadezhda Edvardovna on September 02, 2006, 11:09:04 AM
I found "Purple secret : genes, "madness" and the Royal houses of Europe" pretty persuasive that many of Alexandra's illnesses were caused by porphyria.  It's a difficult book, rather scientific, but worth the effort. Pax, Nadezhda
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: David_Newell on September 02, 2006, 06:32:33 PM
I have for many years believed that AF may have suffered from Porphyria. I have read the purple secret.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: carkuczyn on September 02, 2006, 07:39:35 PM
i must get that book.  hope it is not hard to find.  thanx for the info.  from reading the book, was there much reference to or connection with the hemophilia gene and porphyria?  i guess my question is, was she more susceptible to porphyria because she was a hemophilia carrier?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: carkuczyn on September 03, 2006, 02:45:11 PM
also the porphyria theory, i think, is quite possible.  it would explain the pains in the legs and back, the headaches, the toothaches, the emotional roblems, skin blotches, and photosensitivity which she suffered from.  i wonder if the medical profession of her day was able to run simple lab tests, such as urine analysis, blood counts, and such?  an undiagnosed problem as troublesome as porphyria, would be bound to cause much anxiety for her.  not knowing what was wrong could cause her imagination to run wild and that, on top of everything else (political and personal) she had to deal with, could have made her the perfect candidate for panic and anxiety disorder.  interesting........
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: J_Kendrick on September 03, 2006, 04:34:17 PM
also the porphyria theory, i think, is quite possible.  it would explain the pains in the legs and back, the headaches, the toothaches, the emotional roblems, skin blotches, and photosensitivity which she suffered from.  i wonder if the medical profession of her day was able to run simple lab tests, such as urine analysis, blood counts, and such?  an undiagnosed problem as troublesome as porphyria, would be bound to cause much anxiety for her.  not knowing what was wrong could cause her imagination to run wild and that, on top of everything else (political and personal) she had to deal with, could have made her the perfect candidate for panic and anxiety disorder.  interesting........

Not possible

An unpublished test of the Empress Alexandra's known DNA samples -- done at the request of Prof. John Rohl sometime after the publication of his book 'Purple Secret" -- was said, by Dr. Rohl, to have proved negative for any genetic evidence of Porphyria.

Likewise, no known test of Alexandra's DNA has ever shown any genetic evidence that she was a carrier of the suspected hemophilia gene.

However, a similar test of the exhumed remains of Kaiser Wilhem II's sister Charlotte in 1997 has been claimed by Dr. Rohl to have proved positive for the genetic evidence of Porphyria.

jk
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: carkuczyn on September 03, 2006, 06:15:52 PM
jk....are saying that it has been proven that alexandra did was not a carrier of hemophilia?  then how did alexei end up with the disease?  maybe i am misunderstanding something here....
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: J_Kendrick on September 03, 2006, 09:12:07 PM
jk....are saying that it has been proven that alexandra did was not a carrier of hemophilia?  then how did alexei end up with the disease?  maybe i am misunderstanding something here....

No...  But I am saying that it has never been proved that she was.

Without the required genetic laboratory proof, which does not now exist -- in spite of the fact that Alexandra's DNA has been available to be tested for that same genetic proof for the past fifteen years -- the popular hemophilia claim of history is, in reality, nothing more than another classic example of unconfirmed palace gossip.

Of course, we've been through this discussion elsewhere on this board many times before, haven't we, folks?  ;D

jk
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on September 04, 2006, 11:58:42 AM
jk....are saying that it has been proven that alexandra did was not a carrier of hemophilia?  then how did alexei end up with the disease?  maybe i am misunderstanding something here....

No...  But I am saying that it has never been proved that she was.

Without the required genetic laboratory proof, which does not now exist -- in spite of the fact that Alexandra's DNA has been available to be tested for that same genetic proof for the past fifteen years -- the popular hemophilia claim of history is, in reality, nothing more than another classic example of unconfirmed palace gossip.

Of course, we've been through this discussion elsewhere on this board many times before, haven't we, folks?  ;D

jk

Whoa, whoa, whoa.  This was originally a discussion about poryphyria not about hemophilia.  There is no concrete evidence Alexandra suffered from poryphyria, but she had to have been a carrier of hemophilia for her son to have been a sufferer.  And until some one comes up with a more complete explanation and concrete evidence (none of which currently exist), there is no proof Alexei suffered from anything other than hemophilia.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: J_Kendrick on September 04, 2006, 02:26:59 PM
jk....are saying that it has been proven that alexandra did was not a carrier of hemophilia?  then how did alexei end up with the disease?  maybe i am misunderstanding something here....

No...  But I am saying that it has never been proved that she was.

Without the required genetic laboratory proof, which does not now exist -- in spite of the fact that Alexandra's DNA has been available to be tested for that same genetic proof for the past fifteen years -- the popular hemophilia claim of history is, in reality, nothing more than another classic example of unconfirmed palace gossip.

Of course, we've been through this discussion elsewhere on this board many times before, haven't we, folks?  ;D

jk

Whoa, whoa, whoa.  This was originally a discussion about poryphyria not about hemophilia.  There is no concrete evidence Alexandra suffered from poryphyria, but she had to have been a carrier of hemophilia for her son to have been a sufferer.  And until some one comes up with a more complete explanation and concrete evidence (none of which currently exist), there is no proof Alexei suffered from anything other than hemophilia.

Well... actually... The original question that started this thread was not about Porphyyria.
 
If you read Carckuczyn's question in the first post of this thread, the original question was:

"...I have often wondered if being a hemophilia carrier can make a person more susceptible to other illnesses.  I am thinking that maybe some of Alix's health problems can be directly related to her hemophilia gene.  Has any research been done on this?"

The raising of the Porphyria issue was, in fact, only a secondary response to the original question. 

The answer to that secondary porphyria response is that an unpublished DNA test has shown that Alexandra was negative for Porphyria.

The response to the original question that started this thread -- ".. I am thinking that maybe some of Alix's health problems can be directly related to her hemophilia gene.  Has any research been done on this?" -- is that there is no genetc laboratory proof that the Empesss Alexandra had actually ever carried the suspected hemphilia gene.

Therefore, the answer is that no medical research has ever been done into the question that Carckuczyn had originally asked to start this thread about possible health problems being related to a hemophilia gene -- a suspected hemophilia gene that it has not been proved that Alexandra had ever actually carried.

Likewise, neither has the popularly suspected identity of the blood disorder suffered by Alexandra's only son ever been proved by any form of medical laboratory testing.  As it has been discussed at length elsewhere on this board, a new explanation for a number of very serious questions that are raised by Alexei's now popular -- but still unproven -- diagnosis has been provided in the American Journal of Hematology, September 2004.

jk 
 
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Kimberly on September 04, 2006, 02:39:25 PM
And was that provided by yourself Mr. Kendrick?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: J_Kendrick on September 04, 2006, 08:29:41 PM
And was that provided by yourself Mr. Kendrick?

.. and by the peer review panel of renowned hematology professors who approved its medical content for publication in a recognised hematology journal.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Belochka on September 04, 2006, 08:51:40 PM
As it has been discussed at length elsewhere on this board, a new explanation for a number of very serious questions that are raised by Alexei's now popular -- but still unproven -- diagnosis has been provided in the American Journal of Hematology, September 2004.

jk 

It is only you Mr Kendrick who continually persist in raising this issue of fanciful notions of other possibilities, whist re-intoducing your personal "Historic Perpective" to this forum.

Alexei's hemophilia episodes were indeed proven medically by a panel of international specialists of the day. He presented with all the physical symptomology of this condition which he endured throughout his short life.

Again permit me to direct you to this published article (An Inheritance No one Desired) which is also available on our website for your convenience:

http://www.geocities.com/mushkah/Hemophilia.html
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on September 06, 2006, 09:17:19 PM
Mr. Kendrick,
  I'm having trouble locating the specific article.  Could you please provide a complete citation (author, title, volume, etc.) so I can better find it.  Thanks,
 - Liz
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: carkuczyn on September 06, 2006, 10:59:42 PM
the article, "an inheritance no one desired " is very good.  thank you for writing it and making it available on the forum.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Belochka on September 06, 2006, 11:02:54 PM
the article, "an inheritance no one desired " is very good.  thank you for writing it and making it available on the forum.

Thank you for your kind words.

Margarita
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on September 08, 2006, 02:49:44 PM
I agree.  It's an interesting compendium of quotes and facts that normally require searching to compile.  I still haven't been able to find JK's article and was wondering how it compares.  Can anyone enlighten me? 
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: J_Kendrick on September 11, 2006, 11:10:36 AM
It is only you Mr Kendrick who continually persist in raising this issue of fanciful notions of other possibilities, whist re-intoducing your personal "Historic Perpective" to this forum.

Alexei's hemophilia episodes were indeed proven medically by a panel of international specialists of the day. He presented with all the physical symptomology of this condition which he endured throughout his short life.

Again permit me to direct you to this published article (An Inheritance No one Desired) which is also available on our website for your convenience:

http://www.geocities.com/mushkah/Hemophilia.html

I, for one, am still no more impressed now than I was when you first penned that little diatribe.  Just because the same old story has been told and retold a thousand times throughout the better part of the past century... and just because you now see fit to repeat that same old story here... does not make it true.

Without any laboratory evidence, there is NO proof.

You have stated in "An Inheritance No One Desired" (and I quote directly):

"Today, diagnostic tests for hemophilia provide the clinician confirmation that there is qualitative abnormality of Factor VIII.  A century ago such diagnoses were unavailable."

That is precisely my point.  There is NO laboratory diagnostic evidence.  No laboratory evidence whatsoever -- and no medical doctor in this day an age would ever dare to make such a diagnosis without that same laboratory evidence to confirm his suspicions.

A century ago, when this all took place, the physicians of the day did not even know what Factor VIII was.  They had never even heard of Factor VIII, because it would not be discovered for another 50 years.  Even Robert Massie did not know what Factor VIII was when he wrote in "Nicholas and Alexandra" in 1967: "Scientists know that the defective gene which causes hemophilia appears on one of the female sex chromosomes, known as X chromosomes, but they have never precisely pinpointed the location of the faulty gene or determined the nature of the flaw." (Chapter Twelve, footnotes)

At this point in time, 40 years after Massie and 96 years after the Spala episode, the same is no longer true.  We now know precisely where and how to find the Factor VIII gene with laboratory testing and we can even commercially engineer the Factor VIII protein. That same very laboratory testing we are now fully able to do has never been done publicly in the Romanov case, even though Alexandra's DNA has now been available for those tests for more than fifteen (15) years.

Without that laboratory evidence, all you have is nothing more than a large collection of historically popular speculations.  You do not have any scientific laboratory proof.

You then go on to say: "Physicians were, however, able to identify the condition based on observation of the symptoms, assessing its severity and frequency of events.... While no definitive laboratory essays were available at the turn of the last century, what the physicians of the day relied upon were physical observations."

And that's precisely what is wrong with your interpretation.  You write as if Haemophilia is the only blood disorder known to modern medicine -- as if haemophilia was the only possible blood disorder that a boy can inherit from his mother -- but nothing could be further from the truth.

Continued in following post...
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: J_Kendrick on September 11, 2006, 11:13:33 AM
...Continued from previous post.

Today's haematologists now know for a fact that there are more than a hundred and fifty (150) known blood disorders that will show the same sort of symptoms that were observed in Alexei's case -- more than 150 disorders that will show what is called a "Hemorrhagic Diathesis".   What is more, it is now known today that as many as three dozen (36) of those same disorders can be passed by X-linked inheritance.. and practically every single one of those blood disorders was completely unknown to the doctors of Alexei's time.. because they had not yet been discovered.

It is now practically impossible to determine, with any certainty, precisely which of those blood disorders a patient really has..  if the only diagnostic tool you have is simple observation. Laboratory testing is the only sure way to confirm that diagnosis -- laboratory testing that has never been available in Alexei's case.

You also fail to understand the difference between first and second hand sources.  The only first hand sources are the parents, the doctors directly involved, and the patient himself.  None of those people has ever been shown to have used the word haemophilia directly.  All of those sources that you now use -- whether they were relatives, friends, or palace staff -- were only repeating a diagnosis that they had claimed to have heard.  That, by definition, is second hand evidence, and as such.. by the legally recognised definition of witness evidence that is now used in the courts... their evidence must be considered to be hearsay. 

Your biggest mistake, however, is found in your following statement (and I quote precisely):

"The surface proteins, found on the platelets called Factors, are vital in enabling the blood to clot.  When there is a platelet dysfunction, the plugging mechanism will take longer to develop. The patient will experience continued internal haemorrhaging, which causes pressure on surrounding muscle tissue, with excruciating pain and inflammation at the site of injury."

Yes -- Platelet dysfunction does cause bleeding and internal haemorrhage like we see in Alexei's case -- BUT, NO -- Platelet dysfunction is NOT haemophilia!!

And for that I must thank you, because your statement above plays right into my hands!!
 
See:
http://www.merck.com/mrkshared/mmanual/section11/chapter133/133c.jsp
http://healthlibrary.stanford.edu/resources/internet/bodysystems/blood_platelet.html
http://www.emedicine.com/med/topic987.htm
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=871527&dopt=Abstract
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Search&db=PubMed&term=Platelet+Disorders+x+linked&tool=QuerySuggestion
http://www.hemophilia.ca/en/2.4.4.php
http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/diseasemanagement/hematology/platelet/platelet.htm
http://www.itppeople.com/lowplate.htm
http://www.anzics.com.au/teaching/phvc/platelet.html
http://www.hawaii.edu/medicine/pediatrics/pedtext/s11c06.html

.. and that's just for starters...

Yes -- Alexei did have symptoms of bleeding and internal haemorrhage --  BUT -- No -- It was not haemophilia... and on that point we must agree to disagree.

Without those laboratory tests, which you do not have, you cannot prove otherwise.... no matter how many arguments you may offer to the contrary.

But now we are straying much too far from the original topic of this thread -- Could a faulty carrier gene have caused Alexandra's other symptoms? :-)

Given her age at the time of the murders, has anyone ever considered whether any Alexandra's symptoms could have been evidence of an early onset of menopause?

jk
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: J_Kendrick on September 11, 2006, 11:27:43 AM
Mr. Kendrick,
  I'm having trouble locating the specific article.  Could you please provide a complete citation (author, title, volume, etc.) so I can better find it.  Thanks,
 - Liz

Please see:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=15307116&query_hl=2&itool=pubmed_docsum
or:
http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/109593773/ABSTRACT

jk
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: carkuczyn on September 11, 2006, 04:25:22 PM
isn't this a little like splitting hairs, jk?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: J_Kendrick on September 12, 2006, 01:22:01 PM
isn't this a little like splitting hairs, jk?

Absolutely NOT !!!  It is the difference between a right and a wrong diagnosis

Platelet dysfunction definitely does cause the types of symptoms that are seen in Alexei's medical history -- BUT  -- Platelet dysfunction is most definitely NOT haemophilia.  Haemophlia is caused by a clotting factor deficiency.

The only way to know for certain whether Alexei's disease was actually caused by either a platelet dysfunction or a clotting factor deficiency is by doing the necessary laboratory testing of Alexandra's DNA to confirm whether or not she actually was a carrier -- which has never been done publicly -- and by doing the necessary laboratory testing of Alexei's DNA for evidence of the suspected clotting factor deficiency to confirm his diagnosis... which can never be done until his mortal remains have finally been found and properly identified.

Until that DNA testing actually does happen, the historically popular haemophlia story will never be anything more than an unproven claim.  It is NOT a proven fact.

If a Platelet dysfunction was the cause of Alexei's blood disorder, then his seemingly mysterious recoveries are very easily explained... and the historically popular diagnosis of Haemophlia is most definitely WRONG !!

...and that is precisely the point of the September 2004 American Journal of Hematology paper.

JK
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Grace on September 12, 2006, 06:14:29 PM
J?  This thread is called "Possible Cause Of Some Of Alix's Illnesses".  I am not sure why you have made post after post on her son.  ???
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Lemur on September 13, 2006, 09:57:38 AM
It is very sad how stress and worry can age and even kill a person.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on September 13, 2006, 10:06:32 AM
Yes, it is, and that was undoubtedly behind some of her illnesses. Anyway, this thread is going off topic with all the Alexei business.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: J_Kendrick on September 13, 2006, 01:47:47 PM
J?  This thread is called "Possible Cause Of Some Of Alix's Illnesses".  I am not sure why you have made post after post on her son.  ???

The inference was made that some of Alexandra's symptoms may have been due to a suspected, but still unproven, carrier gene that is believed to have caused her son's suspected, but still unproven, blood disorder.  Comments were made and questions were asked that could not be left unanswered.

... and now, in the effort to return to the original topic of this thread, to ask for a second time...

Given her age at the time of the murders, has anyone ever considered whether any of Alexandra's symptoms could have been evidence of an early onset of menopause?

jk
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Grace on September 13, 2006, 04:55:29 PM
I see, thank you.  :)

I doubt if Alexandra's symptoms could have been due to the effects of menopause because they had been continuing for such a length of time.  For example, Alexandra was said to have suffered from red, blotchy flushing of her face when attending official duties very early on, I believe, just after marriage, so I really think the majority of her physical problems were related to her state of mind.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Mazukov on September 14, 2006, 09:54:31 AM
I would tend to think it was all stress related. Lets for a second put, LOVE. On the side. We know of her love for her husband. We know how important it was for her to bore a son and heir. We also know of her turbulent relationship with the royal court. As we see in past photos before her son was born and then after. The change in her is very dramatic. Being the fact that once the hire was born she should have been relived, instead because of his illness it became total stress on her. It worn her down physically and most importantly mentally.

Let us say for example if Alexei wasn’t ill then Rasputin would have never been a factor in the IF lives, that her being bent on anything or anyone that could help him wouldn’t have been a factor I think her level of stress would have greatly reduced. as would a lot of her physical conditions.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on September 14, 2006, 10:19:11 AM
You out it well, very well. I am not sure it was all stress related- some doubt exists in my mind there- but the stress was one of the main causes, yes.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on September 14, 2006, 02:14:11 PM
Mr. Kendrick,
  I'm having trouble locating the specific article.  Could you please provide a complete citation (author, title, volume, etc.) so I can better find it.  Thanks,
 - Liz

Please see:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=15307116&query_hl=2&itool=pubmed_docsum
or:
http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/109593773/ABSTRACT

jk

While I'm not a big fan of authors pushing their own work (man does it irk my when my profs do that), the links are helpful.  Thanks! 

Also, debunking the belief of hemophilia does not have anything to do with Rasputin IMO.  The man can be credibly debunked independently of the Tsarevich since, had the Tsarevich been healthy, there is still a chance Rasputin would have been introduced to the IF given Alexandra's timely fascination with the occult and religious mysticism (by timely, I am refering to the era's obsession with the spiritual world and mysticism). 

Speaking of Rasputin, his involvement with Alexandra could have greatly contributed to her declining help.  He, and I hate to use this phrase, drove her into hysterics and intense religious fits.  With her increasing spirituality, she took more interest in strictly observing religious fasts and food rules.  Also, a social life is as important to a person's health as food and shelter.  Her isolation, due partly to the odious Rasputin, could have put undo strain on her mental state.  Additionally, her increasingly morose and intense outlook on life (encouraged by her religous views IMO) would have made her miserable. 
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Nadezhda Edvardovna on September 15, 2006, 10:26:16 AM
A few observations:

1. It's always a risky proposition, diagnosing someone who is dead.

2. Alexei was diagnosed with hemophilia during his lifetime.  Perhaps modern diagnostic techniques would offer a different answer, but I doubt it. (My doubt, BTW, doesn't count for much.  I'm an economic historian, not even a nurse!)

3. The unpublished paper which says no gene for porphyria was found in Alexandra's DNA is unpublished, and therefore not really conclusive among professionals.  It represents just one person's work.  If he is correct, eventually he will be vindicated.  Until then, unpublished works just don't have the gravitas published ones do.  (In this modern age, publication is so easy that even published works must be taken with some amount of salt.)

4.  Elsewhere, I've said I think Alexandra had panic disorder.  I stick to that.  I'm also beginning to wonder if she blew her real ailments out of proportion as an attention-getting device.  Certainly the imperial family revolved around her, making her happy, calming her down....  Elsewhere I've read that in response to official complaints against Rasputin, Nicholas said something like of "better ten Rasputins than one hysterical empress..."

Pax, N.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen_Azar on September 15, 2006, 03:17:02 PM
Elsewhere, I've said I think Alexandra had panic disorder. 

I agree, I believe that this is what she had, which escalated from an anxiety disorder. And it would have had nothing to do with any porphyria or hemophilia genes....
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on September 19, 2006, 04:38:53 PM

4.  Elsewhere, I've said I think Alexandra had panic disorder.  I stick to that.  I'm also beginning to wonder if she blew her real ailments out of proportion as an attention-getting device.  Certainly the imperial family revolved around her, making her happy, calming her down....  Elsewhere I've read that in response to official complaints against Rasputin, Nicholas said something like of "better ten Rasputins than one hysterical empress..."

Pax, N.

Well put!  The tantrums and bouts of hysteria were certainly aimed at getting attention in my opinion, she enjoyed the fuss surrounding her.  Alexandra did her best to live up to the stereotype of the swooining helpless woman held captive by her hysterical femaly mind and body, a stereotype very popular in the Victorian Era.  She thrived as a martyr, an image partly fed to her by her ultra-religious friends.  This isn't to say all the hysteria and illness wasn't unwarranted, her sciatica was real and probable her exhaustion, but other than that her problems seem psychological and she often worked herself up into a frenzy and physical pain (the palpatations, the flushing, etc.)  The quote by Nicholas reflects, in my interpretation, her use of hysterics and fits to get her way.  For a woman who strove to appear composed and quiet, she was remarkably immature in her dealings with her husband and family.  She was a nagging shrew who I can easily picture faking a woozy spell to induce Nicholas' guilt.     
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Nadezhda Edvardovna on September 19, 2006, 05:02:14 PM
Liz, I've never seen Alexandra as using her illness as a way of getting attention.  At least, not consciously.  I was seeing the family as codependent and enabling to Alexandra.  Rather the same way that families treat their alcoholic members. 

(And before anyone gets angry, I did not call Alexandra an alcoholic.  There's no evidence she was and there is evidence of her abstemiousness.)

Pax et bonum

Nadezhda
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Grace on September 20, 2006, 03:29:22 AM
Well, I don't know whether I would consider Alexandra used her ailments, real or imagined, to get attention but I think she used them to avoid people and events in her life she felt unable to cope with -- and unfortunately, this was quite frequent.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on September 20, 2006, 08:20:30 AM
The stress she was under might have caused some of her illnesses, certainly. And that is understandable, as she was under much stress, although she perhaps took things too hard. But I don't think she ever used her illnesses intentionally to get attention or whatever. Her husband would give her attention anyway; he wasn't that strong willed. And her family always paid attention. As well, she didn't want public attention, so why fake illness, or use it, if that's what you mean? I think she may have at times used it to avoid things, which is rather human, especially when she used it to avoid social gatherings. But she got so shy at social gatherings that pretty soon, the things she was going through psyochologically there, would be physical.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Raegan on September 20, 2006, 04:21:18 PM
I have never come across one shred of evidence to even begin to suggest that Alexandra faked her illnesses to get Nicholas' attention.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on September 20, 2006, 04:51:32 PM
I have often wondered why Alexis seemed to be able to "heal" after the strongest attacks.  And I have said before the Rasputin did not heal Alexis, Alexis healed Alexis.  That is why he survived so well and so long after Rasputin's death.

As to Alix being prone to illness because she carried the hemophilia gene, has that been shown in any other mother whom we CAN prove carried the gene?  Suzanne Masse for example?

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on September 20, 2006, 05:42:28 PM
I don't think the hemophilia gene had anything to with any illnesses of hers, at all. I think as well that Raegan has got it right; there is simply no evidence she ever faked illness, however much those may have been psychological in orgin.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on September 22, 2006, 01:40:54 PM
I don't think the hemophilia gene had anything to with any illnesses of hers, at all. I think as well that Raegan has got it right; there is simply no evidence she ever faked illness, however much those may have been psychological in orgin.

I never meant to imply she faked them, they were certainly real enough to her (as letters from Botkin can attest, the heart problems etc. were mental and not physical in origin).  But she did use them to her advantage.  The quote about the hysterical Alexandra is a good example as I also brought up her tendency to become hysterical when it came to getting her way and she could be a stubborn, nagging woman (read her letters and how harshly she criticized Nicholas, albeit in sugar coated words, or about her imploring letters to poor Olga to be more proper etc.)  Her headaches kept her laid up in the mauve budoir for days at a time, she was confined to a wheel chair for most of the last years of her life (sure, sciatica played a part), demanded attendance of her daughters and the cancellation of events.  She avoided public appearances, overdosed on drugs (which I think would have killed her in the long run) and clung to smelling salts, metaphorically (she is very much like Aunt Pitty Pat in "Gone With the Wind").  But in an instant could be boisterous and determined (see her nursing work or the accounts of her bounding down the stairs to meet Nicholas).  Her illnesses had a tendency to come and go.  Those are the signs of a woman playing her illness for all its worth in my opinion.  This is not to say she was completely healthy, besides obvious psychological problems there was the sciatica and probably aches and pains due to bearing four children and maybe even complications from carrying hemophilia, nor is it to say she was not a loving, devoted woman.  She was a complicated individual and like everyone, she appears to have had her dark side.   
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Raegan on September 22, 2006, 04:38:02 PM

I never meant to imply she faked them, they were certainly real enough to her (as letters from Botkin can attest, the heart problems etc. were mental and not physical in origin).  But she did use them to her advantage. 

Wait a minute. Now you're saying that you never "meant to imply" she faked them, but you still claim she "used them to her advantage." Now, if she used them to her advantage, wouldn't that be a person faking their illness? And you could have fooled me with not implying that she faked them when you stated the quote below:

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The tantrums and bouts of hysteria were certainly aimed at getting attention in my opinion, she enjoyed the fuss surrounding her.


This does indeed sound like you are implying that she faked her illnesses.

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Her headaches kept her laid up in the mauve budoir for days at a time, she was confined to a wheel chair for most of the last years of her life (sure, sciatica played a part), demanded attendance of her daughters and the cancellation of events.

Pierre Gilliard wrote in Thirteen Years At the Russian Court that it was the Grand Duchesses who came up with the idea of attending to their mother when she needed it, not Alexandra herself. It was the daughters who came to their mother's aid on their own initiative. I would guess they did this out of love for their mother.

Quote
In She avoided public appearances, overdosed on drugs (which I think would have killed her in the long run) and clung to smelling salts, metaphorically (she is very much like Aunt Pitty Pat in "Gone With the Wind").

When did she overdose on drugs?  

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But in an instant could be boisterous and determined (see her nursing work or the accounts of her bounding down the stairs to meet Nicholas).
 

Alexandra wasn't always sick.

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Those are the signs of a woman playing her illness for all its worth in my opinion.

So you ARE still implying that she faked her illnesses. 

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This is not to say she was completely healthy, besides obvious psychological problems there was the sciatica and probably aches and pains due to bearing four children

She had five children.

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on September 23, 2006, 05:32:23 AM
Well said, Raegan!!

As regards Liz's post:

The quote about the hysterical Alexandra is a good example as I also brought up her tendency to become hysterical when it came to getting her way and she could be a stubborn, nagging woman (read her letters and how harshly she criticized Nicholas, albeit in sugar coated words, or about her imploring letters to poor Olga to be more proper etc.)

Alix was stubborn and she knew she was.

Her wartime letters to Nicholas were written in very exceptional circumstances. It would be unfair and far too simplistic to take these letters to accuse Alix of being "a nagging woman" while conveniently forgetting that hundreds of other letters to Nicholas, friends and relatives show her in an entirely different light.

I never meant to imply she faked them, they were certainly real enough to her (as letters from Botkin can attest, the heart problems etc. were mental and not physical in origin).  But she did use them to her advantage. ... Her headaches kept her laid up in the mauve budoir for days at a time, she was confined to a wheel chair for most of the last years of her life (sure, sciatica played a part), demanded attendance of her daughters and the cancellation of events.  She avoided public appearances ....  But in an instant could be boisterous and determined (see her nursing work or the accounts of her bounding down the stairs to meet Nicholas).  Her illnesses had a tendency to come and go.  Those are the signs of a woman playing her illness for all its worth in my opinion....

Alix was fully aware of the fact that her heart problem and some of her other health problems were psychosomatic and a result of the constant stress she was under. She stated this in a letter to Margarethe Pfuhlstein-von Fabrice in December 1913. She may not have been able to attend stressful public events on bad days - which, according to her brother, "led to accusations of weakness and evil intent" - but she did manage to attend them "with great force of will, suffering severe pains" on better days. Attending public events "suffering severe pains" is not really consistent with the behaviour one would expect of someone using her ailments to her advantage.

Since her health problems were partly stress-related, it was only natural that they aggravated when she was faced with duties that were stressful to her, like public appearances, and that she could do more when it came to duties that did not give her that type of stress, such as her work at the hospital.

... The quote about the hysterical Alexandra is a good example as I also brought up her tendency to become hysterical when it came to getting her way ...

I think this quote is actually not such a good example. We don't know the exact state of mind this remark was made in, but I think it unlikely that Nicholas meant to suggest that Alix was going from one fit of hysteria to another. I don't think there is sufficient reliable evidence that she was. Nicholas's remark was possibly not so much different from the remarks billions of men have made about their wives getting over-emotional in discussions. No sensible person would interpret these remarks as proof of hysteria.

The discussions Nicholas and Alexandra had about Rasputin inevitably were discussions that were emotionally charged. After all, the real issue was not whether they would invite some peasant for tea, but how to cope with their son's health problems. All the emotions and frustrations concerning Alexei's health that Alix went through, Nicholas went through too. They were two people trying to cope as best as possible  with the deepest fears, worries and feelings of powerlessness parents can go through. Both of them must have felt deeply frustrated, not only  because there was no cure for their son, but also because they were unable to take away their beloved partner's sorrow, fears and worries on this point. It's very well possible that, when discussing Alexei's health and Rasputin's role, Alix got more emotional than Nicholas could handle considering his own fears and worries, bottled up for years. To me, his remark is not proof that Alix was a hysteric; it rather shows me the depth of their sorrows, and I feel compassion for both of them.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on September 23, 2006, 02:36:59 PM

I never meant to imply she faked them, they were certainly real enough to her (as letters from Botkin can attest, the heart problems etc. were mental and not physical in origin).  But she did use them to her advantage.

Wait a minute. Now you're saying that you never "meant to imply" she faked them, but you still claim she "used them to her advantage." Now, if she used them to her advantage, wouldn't that be a person faking their illness? And you could have fooled me with not implying that she faked them when you stated the quote below:

Quote
The tantrums and bouts of hysteria were certainly aimed at getting attention in my opinion, she enjoyed the fuss surrounding her.


This does indeed sound like you are implying that she faked her illnesses.

Quote
Her headaches kept her laid up in the mauve budoir for days at a time, she was confined to a wheel chair for most of the last years of her life (sure, sciatica played a part), demanded attendance of her daughters and the cancellation of events.

Pierre Gilliard wrote in Thirteen Years At the Russian Court that it was the Grand Duchesses who came up with the idea of attending to their mother when she needed it, not Alexandra herself. It was the daughters who came to their mother's aid on their own initiative. I would guess they did this out of love for their mother.

Quote
In She avoided public appearances, overdosed on drugs (which I think would have killed her in the long run) and clung to smelling salts, metaphorically (she is very much like Aunt Pitty Pat in "Gone With the Wind").

When did she overdose on drugs?   

Quote
But in an instant could be boisterous and determined (see her nursing work or the accounts of her bounding down the stairs to meet Nicholas).
 

Alexandra wasn't always sick.

Quote
Those are the signs of a woman playing her illness for all its worth in my opinion.

So you ARE still implying that she faked her illnesses. 

Quote
This is not to say she was completely healthy, besides obvious psychological problems there was the sciatica and probably aches and pains due to bearing four children

She had five children.



Many of Alexandra's physical illnesses were not real.  They were largely physical manifestations of psychological problems (probably including the need for attention) and as such were real enough to her but not technically real physical illnesses.  Because they had no physical origin, a simpler term for them would be "faking" but, like I said, they were real enough to her.  So they existed and she took advantage of them.  Maybe even exaggerated occasionally.  She certainly was not sick all the time, but it would be fair to say she was "ill" a significant proportion of the time. 

As her "illnesses" progressed Alexandra increasingly used narcotics to control the symptoms, I don't have direct access to my books right now, but I think she was taking (excessive amounts of) some sort of narcotic and also mercury (mercury chloride?) for her heart (someone who can get to books, please feel free to write the specifics).  She was experiencing "symptoms" so often, including insomnia, she was taking the drugs on a regular basis meaning they built up in her system to the point she had to essentially overdose to obtain the desired effect.  Her body had built up a resistance.  An autopsy on her body probably would have been very interesting. 

Alexandra required attendance by her daughters and did not like to be alone. The girls simply devised a system of serving on a rotating basis.  Yes, they loved her and she loved them but that does not mean she did not make demands of them.  Some authors discuss, albeit briefly, the relationship between Alexandra and her daughters - especially Olga and mentions the strain that sometimes occured. 

My bad about the 4 children mistake.  Inexcusable brain spasm.     

As for Alexandra's letters, letters before and after the war exhibit the same nagging albeit to a lesser degree.  Obviously the stress of war hyperactivated her.  No matter how coy and loving the words, they are still demanding.  Helen, where can I find the letter in which Alexandra admits her illnesses are phantoms?

Alexandra felt it necessary to condition her attendance of a public celebration "with great force of will, suffering severe pains."  Why would she, other than to gain attention and sympathy for her martyr like bravery, have to mention this?  Her entire family would have known about her aches and pains, mentioning them was pointless. 

What I find interesting is that she worked herself into fits of pain over walking past a crowd but performed seamlessly when faced with blood and gore and trapped in small operating rooms most people would consider a hell.  It's almost like an exaggerated Munchhausen's Syndrome.  She needed others to be sick for her to be healthy and to come to the rescue.       
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on September 23, 2006, 03:25:27 PM
I have always wondered about her ability to work in the hospital as well.  How was it that she could handle that so well?

And I am still wondering what it was that caused her to begin to be so cruel to Nicholas in her letters. What caused the tirades about his weak will?  He was always that way.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen_Azar on September 23, 2006, 07:00:40 PM
I have always wondered about her ability to work in the hospital as well.  How was it that she could handle that so well?

In fact, being able to help others who were worse off than her made Alexandra feel better, it soothed her in a way. It's almost as if it made her forget about her own problems by concentrating on the miseries of others and helping them. I think it may have been a way for her to cope with her anxieties. As far as her numerous illnesses, it seems that she may have been what we would today call a "hypochondriac", which really means a severe anxiety disorder, which manifested itself as physical illnesses, some real, some imagined, but still real to her. I don't think this is uncommon and had she lived today, this probably would have been easily treated. 
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Louis_Charles on September 23, 2006, 08:11:50 PM
FOTR discusses, albeit briefly, the relationship between Alexandra and her daughters - especially Olga and mentions the strain that sometimes occured.     

Just a reminder, we are not allowed to mention or refer to FOTR on this forum, as per the FA.





Did I miss the memo about this?

Thanks,

Simon
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on September 23, 2006, 08:40:51 PM
 ??? Liz, I cannot but wonder whether you're really serious about some of the things you wrote.

Many of Alexandra's physical illnesses were not real.  They were largely physical manifestations of psychological problems (probably including the need for attention) and as such were real enough to her but not technically real physical illnesses.  Because they had no physical origin, a simpler term for them would be "faking" but, like I said, they were real enough to her.  So they existed and she took advantage of them.  Maybe even exaggerated occasionally.  She certainly was not sick all the time, but it would be fair to say she was "ill" a significant proportion of the time. 

Alix may have suffered from some stress-related psychosomatic health problems, but this does NOT mean that she "faked" symptoms; some of her health problems were of course of a physical nature. IMO, to use the word "faked" with regard to psychosomatic symptoms shows either a great lack of understanding of such health problems or is a deliberate suggestive choice of word to give a negative twist to things.  :-\

What I find interesting is that she worked herself into fits of pain over walking past a crowd but performed seamlessly when faced with blood and gore and trapped in small operating rooms most people would consider a hell.  It's almost like an exaggerated Munchhausen's Syndrome.  She needed others to be sick for her to be healthy and to come to the rescue.       

Could you please provide solid evidence that she "worked" herself into fits of pain when walking past a crowd and that her pains were not real? The pains caused by sciatica were very real, as far as I know.

As regards her hospital work, I think one should consider that the stress this work gave her was of an entirely different nature than that of public appearances and therefore may have affected her health differently than public appearances did. Moreover, she may have considered this hospital work as more meaningful than appearing at balls and theatre performances. Care for the suffering had been something she had taken a sincere interest in since her youth, something she also saw as a Christian duty. This may have influenced her ability to work too. Yes, it's true that helping someone who is worse off than oneself can be rewarding and can even put one's own problems in a different perspective, but references to Munchhausen's Syndrome, no, even exaggerated Munchhausen's Syndrome, make no sense at all. >:(

I wouldn't describe her work at the hospital as something she "performed seamlessly".  Yes, she did work at the hospital for a while, but then her health would fail and she would be absent from the OR for days or weeks, so it was basically an on and off thing. That doesn't sound very "seamlessly". I do not have sufficient information about the extent to which her health was affected by what she saw at the OR, but seeing the horrible wounds of the soldiers did upset her.

As for Alexandra's letters, letters before and after the war exhibit the same nagging albeit to a lesser degree.  Obviously the stress of war hyperactivated her.  No matter how coy and loving the words, they are still demanding.  Helen, where can I find the letter in which Alexandra admits her illnesses are phantoms?

Of course I don't know which letters you've read, but I've read hundreds of letters she wrote that are not nagging at all. The specific letter from December 1913 I referred to can be found in Alix an Gretchen.

I think your use of the word  "phantoms" gives a - deliberate? - negative twist to my words and indirectly to Alix's statement. I did not say that Alix admitted that her health problems were phantoms, nor did she. She did say, however, that she knew that her heart condition was not "organic" and that her pains came from endless worries and sorrows in the preceding years.

Alexandra felt it necessary to condition her attendance of a public celebration "with great force of will, suffering severe pains."  Why would she, other than to gain attention and sympathy for her martyr like bravery, have to mention this?  Her entire family would have known about her aches and pains, mentioning them was pointless. 

I think you may have misread my previous post. It was not Alix herself who mentioned this. It was someone else who noticed it, in this particular case her brother.

But hey... enough! I don't want to spoil your fun.  :-\
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Raegan on September 23, 2006, 08:55:03 PM
Many of Alexandra's physical illnesses were not real.  They were largely physical manifestations of psychological problems (probably including the need for attention) and as such were real enough to her but not technically real physical illnesses.  Because they had no physical origin, a simpler term for them would be "faking" but, like I said, they were real enough to her.  So they existed and she took advantage of them.  Maybe even exaggerated occasionally.  She certainly was not sick all the time, but it would be fair to say she was "ill" a significant proportion of the time.

Tsarina_Liz, you clearly stated on September 19 that you believed Alexandra (the "nagging shrew" as you prefer to call her) was faking her illnesses. If you have forgotten this, I shall remind you with your quote below: 

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She was a nagging shrew who I can easily picture faking a woozy spell to induce Nicholas' guilt.

Then you claimed yesterday that you that you "never meant to imply" she faked them. See below:   

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I never meant to imply she faked them, they were certainly real enough to her (as letters from Botkin can attest, the heart problems etc.

Clearly, you are back peddling here.

Quote
As her "illnesses" progressed Alexandra increasingly used narcotics to control the symptoms, I don't have direct access to my books right now, but I think she was taking (excessive amounts of) some sort of narcotic and also mercury (mercury chloride?) for her heart (someone who can get to books, please feel free to write the specifics).  She was experiencing "symptoms" so often, including insomnia, she was taking the drugs on a regular basis meaning they built up in her system to the point she had to essentially overdose to obtain the desired effect.  Her body had built up a resistance.  An autopsy on her body probably would have been very interesting.
 

Tsarina_Liz, you stated that Alexandra OVERDOSED on drugs. I want to know where you pulled that from.

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Alexandra required attendance by her daughters and did not like to be alone. The girls simply devised a system of serving on a rotating basis.  Yes, they loved her and she loved them but that does not mean she did not make demands of them.

How do you know Alexandra didn't like to be alone? I am quite curious about this. I have never came across anything (meaning primary sources) to suggest that she demanded that they care for her. In fact, I recall one note in A Lifelong Passion, I believe, in which Olga (yes, Olga) told her mother that she preferred to stay with her instead of joining the others. Believe it or not, Alexandra's daughters enjoyed her company.


Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Louis_Charles on September 23, 2006, 09:11:30 PM
In your opinion, was Alexandra's relationship with Olga ever strained? I have read letters from Alexandra complaining that her eldest daugher pays her no mind, or challenges everything her mother says. This does not negate the very real love a parent and child feel for each other, but it isn't necessary to believe that everything was always roses.

The words "nagging shrew" are inflammatory, but it seems beyond question that Alexandra nagged Nicholas regarding the conduct of the war, political appointments and the role of Gregory Rasputin.

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Raegan on September 23, 2006, 09:28:04 PM
In your opinion, was Alexandra's relationship with Olga ever strained? I have read letters from Alexandra complaining that her eldest daugher pays her no mind, or challenges everything her mother says.

No, I don't believe it was ever strained. Strained is a powerful word. I firmly believe there were disagreements, that is only normal. But strained? No. And the only time I have come across the normal disagreements (which happens in any normal parent-child relationship) is the letter you mentioned, in which Alexandra complained of her daughter sulking and complaining. Alexandra wrote this letter to Nicholas during WWI, when Olga was clearly experiencing issues she had never dealt with before (such as nursing the wounded). IMO, she became irritable during the war years, so I wasn't too surprised to read that letter in the Complete War Correspondences. However, in the literally hundreds of letters that spanned three years, that is the only one in which any disagreements were brought up, at least as far as I can remember. No others stand out. So that doesn't exactly reflect a "strained" relationship.

The words "nagging shrew" are inflammatory, but it seems beyond question that Alexandra nagged Nicholas regarding the conduct of the war, political appointments and the role of Gregory Rasputin.

As Helen said, those letters were not written during a "normal" time in her life. It was war, after all. Her earlier letters to family and friends do not come across as nagging. Both Helen and myself have read dozens of her earlier letters due to our research, and her earlier letters do reflect a different person.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Louis_Charles on September 23, 2006, 09:46:06 PM
Of course, that is your impression, but they do to me; her behavior was difficult during the Rasputin and Phillipe periods as well, and they weren't (only) during wartime. Moreover, the period of the war was the first time she and Nicholas had spent significant time apart during the marriage, unleashing a torrent of letters. It strains credulity that she developed a new personality because of the war that demonstrated itself in the flood of advice she gave. Is it not more likely that she did the same verbally throughout the marriage? In the end I think it is hard to ignore the fact that Nicholas trusted her above all other advisers, and that he sided with her against the rest of the Romanov clan.

I have always wondered if her illnesses were not brought on by reaction to the strain imposed by her pathological shyness. Many people remarked upon her physical reaction to stressful public situations, namely blotchy skin. That, coupled with her disdain for society, made it easy to withdraw as much as possible into her inner family circle.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Raegan on September 23, 2006, 09:56:38 PM
Of course, that is your impression, but they do to me; her behavior was difficult during the Rasputin and Phillipe periods as well, and they weren't (only) during wartime. Moreover, the period of the war was the first time she and Nicholas had spent significant time apart during the marriage, unleashing a torrent of letters. It strains credulity that she developed a new personality because of the war that demonstrated itself in the flood of advice she gave. Is it not more likely that she did the same verbally throughout the marriage? In the end I think it is hard to ignore the fact that Nicholas trusted her above all other advisers, and that he sided with her against the rest of the Romanov clan.

I can only respond by saying what I said before, and that is her earlier letters do not resemble the WWI letters and show a much different person.

I have always wondered if her illnesses were not brought on by reaction to the strain imposed by her pathological shyness. Many people remarked upon her physical reaction to stressful public situations, namely blotchy skin. That, coupled with her disdain for society, made it easy to withdraw as much as possible into her inner family circle.

She was certainly a shy person, but her shyness didn't stop her from attending many important events in her life. Despite her pain, she did follow through much of the time. Other than that I can't really remark about what a shy person must suffer in such a situation. It just makes me feel fortunate that I am not shy. I couldn't imagine that kind of agony!
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Louis_Charles on September 23, 2006, 10:08:54 PM
No, I can't either! How terrible to have physical symptons manifest because of shyness!

I guess we will have to agree to disagree, though, about her behavior during the war as being a radical personality departure for her. I might add that I don't regard her behaviors as entirely negative. Certainly the experiences with her son had left her very capable in terms of being psychically able to cope with medical war work, and her deep religiosity probably also gave her the strength she needed to perform the grueling work accomplished in the hospital.

I do think, however, that she suffered from personality disorders that were undiagnosed at the time (although the symptoms were noted by family members and court observers). Most of these were exacerbated by the need for a male heir, and then by Alexei's illness --- which Alexandra internalized as having been caused by herself. Within the confines her own understanding of the world, her actions probably seemed reasonable, but objectively they would have to be occasionally judged as irrational.


Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Raegan on September 23, 2006, 10:18:08 PM
I guess we will have to agree to disagree, though, about her behavior during the war as being a radical personality departure for her.

I agree to disagree. :)

I do think, however, that she suffered from personality disorders that were undiagnosed at the time (although the symptoms were noted by family members and court observers). Most of these were exacerbated by the need for a male heir, and then by Alexei's illness --- which Alexandra internalized as having been caused by herself. Within the confines her own understanding of the world, her actions probably seemed reasonable, but objectively they would have to be occasionally judged as irrational.

I see what you are saying, but I also try not diagnose a person I never met. It is temping to say I believe so-and-so suffered from this, but then there really is no way of knowing for sure.

Well I am going to attempt to get some sleep now, even though I am not tired. Enjoyed the discussion, and have a good night.


Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen_Azar on September 24, 2006, 08:37:47 AM
How terrible to have physical symptons manifest because of shyness!

IMHO, this was not merely "shyness", but severe anxiety that she suffered from, which got even more aggravated as time went by (as usually happens unless treated). This may have been what partially caused her physical symptoms such as her "heart problems", because such anxiety often does. It would make a lot of sense.

P.S. I am not trying to diagnose, just my hypothesis to try to explain some things  ;).


Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Louis_Charles on September 24, 2006, 09:04:08 AM
I think it is probably a mistake to "diagnose" an historical personage the farther back one goes and the fewer the sources. But this was a woman who lived well into the 20th century, and who was the most public figure in the Empire after her husband. Her actions were described, medical records were maintained, and we have access to enough information about her to make educated speculations (hypotheses)  about her health. And of course, I used the word shyness when I meant "panic disorder". Her physical reaction to public appearances was too extreme and frequent to be simply "shyness".
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on September 24, 2006, 07:14:15 PM
This is an interesting debate, and I think we need to be accurate and not jump to at times rather out there conclusions not supported by the evidence we have. Alexandra undoubtedly did have some actual physical issues; and some of it was caused or aggravated by stress. It was a combination, no doubt. She was stressed more than most, and didn't or coudn't cope with all of it. Added to this, the fact she had actual health issues, it became what we know so well from the historical evidence. Alexandra certainly did not fake illness; even those who do not wish her memory well are inclined to admit this. There is no evidence at all of that. Alexandra I think never really used any health problems to avoid things; I think going out in public did cause her real distress, due to her shy nature. Today, she might have been able to work on that, perhaps if she was stuck in a public role. Then, she already faced enough things, and so she retreated from the world. She perhaps ought not to have had a public role in view of her shyness, but it is easy to understand why she avoided oublic events, even if it isn't easy to justify it.b She never used illness to avoid anything there, unless it really was illness. Generally, she wasn't known to be comfortable in public, so it was understood by her family, or at least known why she avoided public events.It doesn't do any respect to her memory, or to historical accuracy to say she faked illness.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Rudolf_II on April 24, 2007, 04:02:35 AM
FWIW (as I'm not a psychiatrist), my own personal theory is that Alexandra had avoidant personality disorder (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avoidant_personality_disorder).  I bound to see it this way, though, as it's what I have too.  Thankfully, I see qualified medical professionals rather than Rasputin etc.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: dmitri on July 04, 2007, 12:46:22 PM
Her own family described her as hysterical.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: JBenjamin82 on July 31, 2007, 02:51:18 AM
Forgive me for bringing back an old thread, but I find this topic fascinating, as I'm interested in both the history of medicine and the history of Russia.  There are several threads regarding this topic, it seems, but I chose to respond to this one because I am especially intrigued by Spirodovitch's diagnostic information. 

      "The proof of the hysterical nature of the nervous manifestations is furnished by the ease with which the Empress submits to the positive suggestions of some and the negative suggestions of others.
      "The neuroasthenic manifestations are presented in her in the form of a great weakness (asthenia) of the body in general, the cardiac muscle in particular, with painful sensations in the pericardial region.
            "As for the psychic troubles (loss of psychic equilibrium), this is principally expressed by a state of great depression, by great indifference to that which surrounds her, and by a tendency for religious revery.
      "The neuro-vascular phenomenona which are the question here (dilation or constriction of the vessels) became more accute as she neared middle age.  It is also complicated by a feeling of anguish, a weakening of the centers of inhibition and intellectual troubles bearing principally upon the logical functions and intellectual operations."

Does anyone know if Alexandra's "cardiac weakness"  and "enlarged heart" were subjective symptoms?  On the other hand, did her physicians come to the conclusion that her cardiac muscles were defective as a result of extensive physical examinations?  Apparently, acoustic stethoscopes were used during Alexandra's lifetime, so it seems possible, if not likely, that they were used by her physicians to moniter her cardiac rhythm and lung functioning[1] (http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/museum/exhibit98/content/b6_17info.html).  It also seems that electrocardiograms were available at the turn-of-the-century[2] (http://www.ecglibrary.com/ecghist.html). Does anyone know if Alexandra's heart was monitered by electrocardiogram machines?  If so, are the test results available?  It almost seems silly of me to ask because I'm sure they'd be posted here if they were, but I can't help wondering all the same.  Such information could give us significant insight into Alexandra's conditions.

While I think that Alexandra exhibited symptoms consistent with depression and anxiety disorders (the supposition that she suffered from depression/anxiety with physical manifestations seems to be supported by those who knew her as well), I try to stay open to the possibility that she may have had a physical, cardiac condition that was exacerbated by her mental state. Olga Alexandrovna told Ian Vorres that she once witnessed Alexandra's lips turn blue.  It's possible that Olga's observations were incorrect.  As an example, I suffered from a panic attack as a teenager.  My parents, not knowing I was in the throes of an attack, thought my skin looked gray, and they were worried that I was suffering from something much more life-threatening.  Of course, it's possible that Alexandra's lips did in fact turn blue.  Cyanosis (blue lips) can be indicative of several health conditions, some of which aren't serious at all and some of which are indeed serious (and are usually cardiac in nature)[3] (http://www.emedicine.com/med/topic3002.htm).  Cyanosis, along with shortness of breath, edema, chest pain, and fatigue, symptoms which Alexandra exhibited, could indicate congestive heart failure[4] (http://www.hmc.psu.edu/healthinfo/c/chf.htm).  But if Alexandra did suffer from a mild form of the condition, I'd think that her physicians would have picked up on it, no?  As I'm sure you all know, Alexandra's symptoms could have been caused by a myriad of different conditions; congestive heart failure is just one of many, many possibilities. 

P.S.  I'm not a medical professional, so feel free to take everything I wrote with a grain of salt. ;)

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Gabriella on July 31, 2007, 08:38:24 AM
I do not think that Alexandra was mentally unstable.

I think that she was stressed first by the fact that she gave birth of four daughters instead of a heir. She loved them but I think that she was disappointed by not fulfilling her dynastical duties.
Then she gave birth to a heir and must discover very soon the her son suffered of haemophilia. She knew what that meant for her son's live. Her uncle Leopold was a haemophilia's sufferer as were two of her sister Irene's sons. The youngest son of Irene died a few month before Alexei's birth. I think the fear about Alexei put her under enormous stress.
At the end I think she was physically and mentally worn out.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: anna11 on October 19, 2007, 02:37:34 AM
I have a theory, and it's only my theory, no one's ever suggested it which almost certainly means i'm wrong but I have a theory that Alexandra may have been slightly symptomatic, as many hemophlia carriers are. It just means you get anemic from bloodloss during menstrual bleeding and childbirth, which causes headaches, tiredness, and being really lethargic, (Which is heaps different from laziness), where it takes actual physical effort to move the legs.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: JBenjamin82 on October 20, 2007, 12:08:07 AM
I have a theory, and it's only my theory, no one's ever suggested it which almost certainly means i'm wrong but I have a theory that Alexandra may have been slightly symptomatic, as many hemophlia carriers are. It just means you get anemic from bloodloss during menstrual bleeding and childbirth, which causes headaches, tiredness, and being really lethargic, (Which is heaps different from laziness), where it takes actual physical effort to move the legs.

It definitely seems possible that anemia caused some of her symptoms.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: anna11 on October 20, 2007, 12:56:50 AM
And it also could have caused swollen joints.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Olishka~ Pincess on October 20, 2007, 09:20:26 AM
I think that she had had problems in the heart, in result to her health and her pregnacy. She also had been very stress and worried and those lead to problems, in the legs, stomach and heart. I think that Alix had suffer from Alexei's illness. Becuase she, risk and did anything to help poor Alexei. I read that she continued to drink coffee often, and she was stressed out. She did not even smile very often, notice in her photographs she did'nt what a pity. Her pains and sadness kept her from smilling. That is so sad, she was one of the most tragic woman in history.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: LeahMayhem on February 17, 2008, 03:19:15 PM
Even as Alexandra's (self-proclaimed) number one fan, I must admit that she wasn't the picture of mental stability. I'm not saying that this was the only thing wrong with her, but how many others think it's possible that she might have had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

I know a girl who is OCD. According to her, people with this disorder often have "rituals," which can range from obsessive hand-washing to doing a certain thing a certain number of times or at a certain time of the day. They perform these rituals either to keep something bad from happening or because it will grate on them and drive them literally crazy if they don't.

To me, Alexandra's constant arranging and re-arranging of her religious icons just smacks of OCD, as does her belief that Alexei/her family/she herself would continue to suffer as long as she kept getting the "order" wrong.

Of course people back then had no concept whatsoever of OCD, so they would have labeled her mania over her icons as "insanity" out of ignorance. Just another example of how much better her life might have been if she had lived in modern times and had access to drugs that actually treated the cause instead of just the effects.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: anna11 on February 29, 2008, 06:42:31 AM
Regarding the 'Alix was faking' argument, you know that it is possible to psychologically make yourself sick. You've heard of men who have 'sympathy' symptoms when their partners are pregnant. Not as 'faking' but just as the psychological need to be sick, or being sick as a way of physically showing psychological stress. I can see Alix taking on some of the guilt by unknowingly feeling the need to be ill because her son was. 

It's also kind of indicated by the general consensus that when Alix didn't want to be ill, she wasn't. She and Nicky don't seem to have stopped having a sex life. During the early years of the war, her illness wasn't a problem nursing. But early 1916 her nursing dropped a bit due to her health. I think this indicates that it stopped being a distraction and the war just started wearing her out on top of everything else, contributing badly to her state of mind.

I personally don't think there was any kind of mental disorder going on, other than what i've just said. Which is a lot more common that you'd think and I don't think there's much deeper to it than that. We know that Alix had had back and leg problems since her childhood.

Alexandra was a reclusive person by nature. I don't think being reclusive bothered her, she was very happy in her own little 'nest' I think. Some people don't feel the need to mix. I think that we can judge from her character that once she felt she wasn't liked by high society, she didn't feel the need to like high society and probably found encounters with them humiliating and embarrassing. One bad encounter after another, getting worse each time would lead to someone not wanting to do it again at all. Given how satisfying she found her family life, and how much she believed that the common peasants looked to her as 'mother' I can see her not feeling any desire to reach out to society.

Unfortunately, she was empress and that's pretty much exactly what an empress has to do.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Annie on March 15, 2008, 09:29:27 PM
I agree, I think you are onto something here. OCD takes various forms, some people have to have everything clean, some people can't throw anything away so their house becomes filthy. In her case, her obsessions certainly do seem they could be OCD related. The way she worried herself sick and it damaged her health, physically and mentally. This is something to explore. Good call Ronnie.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: halen on March 22, 2008, 04:35:47 PM
I have been a life long sufferer of sciatica pain (as I lay here in bed resting my back). I thank the goddesses for modern medicine (yeah Tylenol 3's) and other modern practices such as pyhsio-therapy, accupuncture, chiropractors etc. \Oh I can't forget my trusty back brace which helps most of the time when an attack flairs up. So my question is...What did Alexandra do to help with her suffering?. As I put my back brace on a few days ago, I wondered whether Alexandra's corsets would help, but then I looked at  photos I decided  the tightness of those hideous things would probably cause more pain than give relief. If she was already in agony from the pain the weight of some her gowns/jewels would not help her. Neither would standing on her feet for hours at a time doing social functions etc. What would have been the then modernmedical practices to help the Empress?

halen
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: pandora on March 22, 2008, 09:06:06 PM
halen - I've often wondered the same...having, also, experienced sciatica brought on by pregnancies, etc., I've often thanked my doctor for prescribing Neurontin as it's helped tremendously.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: halen on March 22, 2008, 09:41:35 PM
Knowing the pain that Alexandra was in most of the time makes it possible to understand why she would be considered stand-offish, uninterested in her surroundings, or even tightlipped on occassion. That level of pain really would cloud your judgement and make her a bit tense.

halen
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Eddie_uk on March 23, 2008, 05:14:48 AM
I recall reading Alexandra "taking the waters" for a cure in the 1890s. Spas, and hydrotherapy as it now is called, can be very effective in helping back pain. Years ago those with back pain where often ordered on to bed rest which did nothing at all to help there back pain, just eased the symptoms. If Alexandra had only exercised, put her body through it's full range of motion, maintaing muscle length, joint range and nerve supply, which all enable movement to occur pain free, she would no doubt of ended up more comfortable!
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Sarushka on March 23, 2008, 07:42:20 AM
As I recall, Dr Botkin had some sort of mild electrolysis device he used for Alexandra. However, I don't remember if that treatment was for her heart or her sciatica.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: LeahMayhem on March 30, 2008, 09:08:42 PM
Knowing the pain that Alexandra was in most of the time makes it possible to understand why she would be considered stand-offish, uninterested in her surroundings, or even tightlipped on occassion. That level of pain really would cloud your judgement and make her a bit tense.

halen

It would also explain the redness of her face. I really empathize with her on that because my face will get red for anything--pain, embarassment, anger, even happiness and excitement. But it really gets red for pain, and hers was probably worse because she was much more pale than I am.

Who knows, her corset might actually have helped. It would have forced her to stand up straight, at any rate, because I imagine it would have been hard to bend in one. Most of the time, when I'm sufferring from back pain (mine is hereditary and chronic) the thing that helps the most is to stand up straight and not slump. That's why it was really mean and ignorant of the Russian nobles to judge her for "looking as though she swallowed a yardstick." If she was in pain, then standing incredibly straight is probably the only thing that got rid of it or made it not as bad.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: amartin71718 on June 15, 2008, 03:37:46 PM
I've read somewhere that Alexandra had glasses. Can anyone tell me when she got them or what she needed them for? (ex. reading)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alexandre64 on June 16, 2008, 02:45:39 AM
The empress was  glasses in fact, these glasses had mounts in scale and a glasses, she used to read and work, it had been given by Dr. Grigorjevski.

A glass return was near the mine shaft.

Alex.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Lalee on June 16, 2008, 03:55:39 AM
I never knew. Did Alix have trouble with her eye-sight?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alexandre64 on June 16, 2008, 04:13:37 AM
A. Tegleva said that the Empress needed glasses because she had sore eyes have cried trops.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: amartin71718 on June 16, 2008, 12:09:36 PM
Cried Trops? What's that?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alexandre64 on June 16, 2008, 12:56:58 PM
The Empress was cry too because of misfortune (revolution, disease Alexis ,...) what his tired eyes.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Lalee on June 17, 2008, 01:43:24 AM
Thanks, Alexandre64. That is so sad =[
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: amartin71718 on June 17, 2008, 09:58:48 PM
Does anyone know when she got them?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: RogerV on July 04, 2008, 11:33:40 PM
In the first volume of her memoirs, Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna (The Younger) describes a visit Alexandra made to  Pskov during the First World War.  The Empress had hoped to make a "surprise" visit to Marie's hospital, but the Governor of Pskov warned Marie the night before,   well aware that special arrangements would have to be made.  One of them was provision for the Empress to be carried up stairs because of her bad heart.

Alexandra arrived as expected, then put in a long and fatiguing day, visiting several hospitals and Red Cross headquarters in Pskov.  Marie herself was worn out, and wondered how someone in such precarious health could have lasted through such a day.

My immediate thought was someone with a heart so bad she couldn't go up one flight of stairs spent several hours walking up and down endless hospital corridors and speaking to hundreds of patients??  Either the "heart problem" was greatly exaggerated, or didn't exist at all.  I think Marie thought so too, but being a loyal Romanov to the end, refrained from saying so in print.

Marie observed that many of the patients seemed disappointed to see their empress and her two daughters dressed as ordinary nurses.  She also observed that there were thousands of women in Russia who could be nurses, but only one could be the empress.  I sometimes wonder if the late Queen Mother of England used Alexandra as an example of what a queen should NOT do during a war...
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Padawan Ryan on July 11, 2008, 09:49:08 AM

And until some one comes up with a more complete explanation and concrete evidence (none of which currently exist), there is no proof Alexei suffered from anything other than hemophilia.

This isn't concrete evidence, but an explanation:


It would be nice if it was that clear cut, but to this day in the 21st century a proven diagnosis does not exist. The puzzlement is that Alexei had a few symptoms that hæmophilia simply cannot answer.

One of the most convincing was that Alexei's disease was episodic. He went months, and even a whole year without any problems worth writing home about. Hæmophilia is ever present, the body lacks the clotting factor it needs for the blood, making every injury dangerous. Alexei rumbled, tumbled, stubbed his toes, got his fingers caught, and endured many other childhood bruises.. but not all of them haemhorraged. He wasn't fighting for his life with every stumble.

Take a look at every serious attack, and it is noted that Alexei was generally feeling under the weather along side the bleeding problem. Each time his immune system was down, say with a cold, he seemed at further risk of reacting badly to an injury. His temperature would rise, saying that his body was very plainly trying to fight off an infection of some kind. Extremely high fevers led to delerium, a trait of the Central Nervous System.

None of this is consistant with hæmophilia.

The greatest mystery was the fact that sometimes Alexei's attacks would occur some time after the initial injury. A perfect example is the Spala Episode, it took weeks for that attack to fully flare after his accident in the boat. In laymen's terms, hæmophilia just doesn't do that. That disease acts right upon the injury, it doesn't fester for weeks.

Nor does a hæmophiliac attack suddenly disapate as quickly as it begins. Alexei's recovery in 1912 was quite spontaneous. The results were temporary crippling, but he was well on the road to recovery only a few hours from when it seemed all was lost.

 All of the symptoms seen in the Spala case, the pallor, internal haemorrhaging, high fevers, and delirium match with what medical science now calls Aplastic Crisis. In Aplastic patients a virus, like a common cold, compromises the bone marrow's ability to produce healthy red blood cells. An injury then could be potentially fatal. It is also a self-limiting disorder, meaning that as soon as the infection runs its course the crisis is over. An Aplastic Crisis episode will last anywhere around six to ten days and then subside all on its own. The recommended treatment is to give the patient comfort and support only until the infection is gone and the marrow is able to recover.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: amartin71718 on July 11, 2008, 11:25:04 AM
I have just had a sudden attack of sciatic pain and it hurt to do anything. It's still hurting in fact. I now have an idea of what she went through almost every day.
Knowing the pain that Alexandra was in most of the time makes it possible to understand why she would be considered stand-offish, uninterested in her surroundings, or even tightlipped on occassion. That level of pain really would cloud your judgement and make her a bit tense.

halen
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: amartin71718 on July 11, 2008, 12:22:55 PM
Her rearranging of her icons was probably owed partially to OCD. I have it, although I have almost cured myself of it. We(most people with OCD) tend to do tasks over and over again even after they are already complete. Either that or we are 'obsessive' about certain things. It's really annoying. 
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: amartin71718 on July 11, 2008, 03:00:40 PM
I know it was not true sciatica. But it sure was painful. Sometimes these things just happen. But as much as it hurt, I feel really bad for Alexandra for having to deal with real sciatica all the time.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: halen on July 11, 2008, 05:05:34 PM
Believe me, there is nothing worse than chronic back pain/sciatica, disc problems. At least today we have the joy of great painkillers, acupuncture, physiotherapy,etc. The poor Empress for having to attend functions, stand for hours, and wear those terribly uncomfortable corsets. The constant, acute pain clouds any and all ability to think and act like a normal human being. Compound this with the stress (always super great for pain) of dealing with Alexei, her four daughters, her duties as Empress, etc, I can empathize with her dour, stand-offish demeanor.

Marty, get yourself to a doctor before the condition becomes worse. Take care and rest.

Louise
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: diadem on July 28, 2008, 11:36:26 PM
The last book I read mentioned that monthly she made lists of her wardrobe and catalogued, inventoried, etc. her possessions. If something was out place she reprimanded her ladies. She also did this for her children's wardrobes. I had never heard this before and it really saddened me. Lace trim on her dresses was removed, inventoried, and then sewn back on by her staff. With all of the other  more pressing and serious concerns the poor woman had and knowing what was to come, it's heartbreaking. I'm sure information like this got back to the court and people that didn't like her or the tsar and I can't imagine what terrible gossip ensued.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: clockworkgirl21 on July 30, 2008, 02:00:06 AM
I think everyone has a little bit of OCD! Personally, I have to do things in threes. I was also taken to a doctor once because when I was little, I would wash my hands so much they were raw.

Anyway, I think Alix was just very tight, as a way of putting it. Some people can't stand having anything out of place or messed up.
Here are other threads concerning her mental/physical health.

http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=7774.0
http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=4247.0
http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=7649.0
http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=7327.0
http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=7791.0
http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=2999.0
http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=5160.0
http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=5453.0
http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=4196.0
http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=1698.0
http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=1233.0

It's a very popular topic.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Holly on July 30, 2008, 06:50:43 PM
No one is 'mentally stable'. We all have our quirks. She was an overprotective mother and tended to worry a lot. A lot of women have the same qualities that she had.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Michael HR on July 31, 2008, 03:57:47 AM
Greetings,

It sounds like she liked to be in control along with her known distaste of waste/unnecessary costs etc. AF was very frugal and maybe the checking of everything was a part of that along with a smattering of insecurity.

I remember a scene in Nicholas and Alexandra which came to mind when a member mentioned the moving of icons. In the film Alexandra does the same thing but says something like she is worried that they are not in the right order and, therefore, one assumes would displease God. I could easily believe that from the Empress as her prayers were for Alexis and it would have been important for her to feel she was doing things correctly.  Perhaps she thought the order of things was necessary for her prayers to be heard?

Of course it also kept her busy and perhaps she did not want idle time for herself

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: amartin71718 on August 06, 2008, 05:57:35 PM
How did they treat Alexandra's ear infection if antibiotics didn't really exist in the early 1900's?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Russka Princess on August 07, 2008, 01:58:12 AM
i knew, where she was older, she has hear-problems. the children and Nicky must speak loud, so that she can understand them
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Lalee on August 07, 2008, 04:24:52 AM
That's interesting. I had no idea she had trouble hearing..
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: nena on August 07, 2008, 07:29:57 AM
Really? Never heard something like that.

Also, in later years, she had problems with walking. Is that true? Poor Empress!
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Lalee on August 07, 2008, 08:04:50 AM
Really? Never heard something like that.

Also, in later years, she had problems with walking. Is that true? Poor Empress!

Yes, it is. She often had problems with walking and was sometimes meant to stay in a wheelchair. She suffered from sciatica.

Alix's health was never really that good.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Russka Princess on August 07, 2008, 12:25:49 PM
 the poor Tsarina, that is the reason why because Nicky do the most walks with his children.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: writer_in_the_making on November 24, 2008, 09:40:26 AM
Did Alexandra take drugs? If so, what?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Robert_Hall on November 24, 2008, 02:10:50 PM
It has been mentioned in several sources that both N&A took cocaine & opium. This is NOT a negative comment, as these substances were perfectly acceptable medicines at that time. No doubt, Alexei had some pretty strong stuff as well, considering his medical condition.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Forum Admin on November 24, 2008, 03:59:36 PM
Spiridovich also comments on the doctors prescribing unnamed medicines for Alexandra's "nervous condition".
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tdora1 on November 24, 2008, 04:17:36 PM
Alix was a regular taker of the first generation of barbiturate tranquilizers. Which, interestingly, seemed to exacerbate her myriad physical health problems - notably with her sofa-sitting, her complaints of 'heart cramps' and the lameness which was severe enough that even during her engagement, Nicolas had to push her around the streets of Windsor in a bath-chair.

As well as stress and emotional excitement setting of the symptoms, barbiturates are considered the most dangerous precursor of an attack and are thus absolutely contraindicated for porphyria - the hereditary inborn error of metabolism which it is believed was passed down from George III to many of his children (one explanation for the reason his daughters were so discouraged from marrying and for the perception that madness was a given amongst monarchs due to the British Hanoverian experiences) - and almost certainly to Vicky's daughter Charlotte (sister of Kaiser Wilhelm II - see the discussion of this theory in the book "Purple Secret, discussed in some detail in her thread here) and her daughter Feodora of Reuss.

Alexandra's lameness was traditionally blamed on a childhood accident stepping though the glass panes of a plant nursery. Hmm. Her cousin, Queen Maud of Norway, was unable to walk down the aisle of the Trondheim cathedral for her coronation in the 1900's despite not having any permanently obvious source or reason for such a disability. Her sister Princess Louise also suffered vague and ill-defined cripplingly bad health throughout her life.

Alix and Nicholas were adamant that Alexei not be given opiate painkillers such as morphine for the agonies he suffered from the bleeding into his joints - for fear of addiction, to their minds a particularly scary prospect for a future ruler given the not-so-distance experiences of George IV and William IV and the damage it had caused to the reputation of monarchy. It is therefore unlikely that Alix took opiates regularly.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tdora1 on November 24, 2008, 04:23:38 PM
Just remembered- the name of Alix's pet pill was Veronal
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on November 24, 2008, 09:40:01 PM
It almost sounds to me like a neurological disorder.  My father suffers from such a disorder, similar to multiple sclerosis, and while he has not had days (yet) that he cannot walk, he has plenty where walking is very difficult.  Heavy-metal (ie lead) poisoning is a contributing factor.

Wow.  Wouldn't it be interesting to know exactly *what* she suffered from.  Not the symptoms, but the condition(s).
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: amartin71718 on November 24, 2008, 10:47:24 PM
Well, we know that she suffered from sciatica, and that can be extremely painful to the point of not being able to walk. And the nerve damage in her legs from the glass incident also would have added to that. I think she also suffered from CFS. (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)


But, I'm no doctor, that just my 2 cents.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on December 09, 2008, 09:14:31 PM
Empress Alexandra, as we know, was afflicted with numerous health concerns, including, but not limited to, sciatica, an "enlarged heart", "dizziness", other "nerve troubles".

Knowing what we know now, and perhaps from our own experiences, what would you diagnose her with?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: ppatane on December 10, 2008, 12:13:41 AM
One thing I've always been curious about is in relation to the birthweight of her babies.   When I gave birth to a nearly 10 lb baby 27 years ago, the doctor immediatly tested me for diabetes and said that 10 lb babies were often an indicator or precursor.  From all that I've read all of the Empress' babies were quite large with several over 10lbs.  She could not of course been a serious diabetic but perhaps pre diabetic.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Erika on December 10, 2008, 04:37:18 AM
A very interesting observation historyfan! Here are a list of symptoms for diabetes. 

     * Thirst
     * Large amounts of urine
     * High blood pressure and high blood fat
     * Fatigue
     * Reduced or increased appetite and weight loss
     * Itching
     * Recurrent infections
     * Interference with wound healing, especially in agencies with poor blood supply (for example feet)
     * Impotence
     * Poor blood circulation (cold hands and feet)
     * Progressively deteriorating eyesight, can lead to blindness (diabetes is the most common cause of blindness in people over age 65)
     * Inferior sensory
     * Convulsions
     * Acetone odor in the breath
     * Black skin areas, primarily in the neck, acanthosis nigricans
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on December 10, 2008, 09:39:49 AM
One thing I've always been curious about is in relation to the birthweight of her babies.   When I gave birth to a nearly 10 lb baby 27 years ago, the doctor immediatly tested me for diabetes and said that 10 lb babies were often an indicator or precursor.  From all that I've read all of the Empress' babies were quite large with several over 10lbs.  She could not of course been a serious diabetic but perhaps pre diabetic.

I've often wondered myself.  My son's birthweight was 10-1/2 pounds and I was not diabetic at all.  But I've only had one.  She, like you said, had several.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on December 10, 2008, 09:41:56 AM
A very interesting observation historyfan! Here are a list of symptoms for diabetes. 

     * Thirst
     * Large amounts of urine
     * High blood pressure and high blood fat
     * Fatigue
     * Reduced or increased appetite and weight loss
     * Itching
     * Recurrent infections
     * Interference with wound healing, especially in agencies with poor blood supply (for example feet)
     * Impotence
     * Poor blood circulation (cold hands and feet)
     * Progressively deteriorating eyesight, can lead to blindness (diabetes is the most common cause of blindness in people over age 65)
     * Inferior sensory
     * Convulsions
     * Acetone odor in the breath
     * Black skin areas, primarily in the neck, acanthosis nigricans

I recognize very few of these symptoms in what I've read of Alexandra's health, but it is possible she was diabetic only while pregnant (gestational diabetes).

But I dunno.  I think it was something else.  Somewhere else I've read, someone suggested cystic fibrosis?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Kimberly on December 10, 2008, 10:41:55 AM
CF sufferers survive to adulthood these days due to the enormous advances in treatments. I would find it hard to believe that she suffered with this disease, surely she would have died in early infancy/childhood if she had CF. (No antibiotic therapy etc available then).
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Sarushka on December 10, 2008, 11:11:28 AM
One thing I've always been curious about is in relation to the birthweight of her babies.   When I gave birth to a nearly 10 lb baby 27 years ago, the doctor immediatly tested me for diabetes and said that 10 lb babies were often an indicator or precursor.  From all that I've read all of the Empress' babies were quite large with several over 10lbs.  She could not of course been a serious diabetic but perhaps pre diabetic.

Giving birth to babies with high birthweight is also a symptom not uncommon among female carriers of hemophilia.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on December 10, 2008, 03:44:24 PM
CF sufferers survive to adulthood these days due to the enormous advances in treatments. I would find it hard to believe that she suffered with this disease, surely she would have died in early infancy/childhood if she had CF. (No antibiotic therapy etc available then).

Is there such a thing as a "mild" form?  Or is it one of those things where you have it, or you don't?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Rodney_G. on December 10, 2008, 04:41:37 PM
I believe Alexandra rather frequently (that is, over the course of years)suffered from jaw pain which may have been related to various dental problems or from a form of facial nerve pain called trigeminal neuralgia . It can be really debilitating.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on December 10, 2008, 07:43:02 PM
I believe Alexandra rather frequently (that is, over the course of years)suffered from jaw pain which may have been related to various dental problems or from a form of facial nerve pain called trigeminal neuralgia . It can be really debilitating.

See, that's what I'm thinking.  I didn't know about the jaw pain but I do suspect she had nerve issues, other than the sciatica.  So what kinds of disorders of the nerves are there?

The "enlarged heart", I suspect, was psychosomatic, or, physically present in the form of the effects of stress on the heart. 

I don't know why this fascinates me, except to be sure that had she lived in our time, she would have been properly diagnosed, properly treated, and above all, UNDERSTOOD.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Sarushka on December 10, 2008, 08:44:59 PM
I don't know why this fascinates me, except to be sure that had she lived in our time, she would have been properly diagnosed, properly treated, and above all, UNDERSTOOD.

I hate to be the pessimist in the bunch, but don't be too sure about that. My grandmother's suffered from a random yet persistent list of symptoms for DECADES. She's been to doctors, specialists, the Mayo Clinic, you name it -- nobody's been able to pin down a diagnosis. Meanwhile she's lost more than a few friends who have either tired of her ailments interfering with their plans and/or just believe she's a hypochondriac. Sound familiar?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on December 10, 2008, 08:53:07 PM
You're right, Sarushka.  That could happen.

Well, the subject still fascinates me.  Nothing I can do.  lol
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: RealAnastasia on December 10, 2008, 09:41:47 PM
I suffered from some of the symptoms depicted above for diabetes. I was almost sure I must be diabetic, since I had diabetic relatives in both branches of my family. I had itching symptoms, micosis in all body and my eyes were not seeing properly. But after going to doctors, the diagnosis me with nervous symptoms and my eyes had only myopia symptoms that were soon corrected with proper glasses. My sugar in blood was not only correct, but even too low. Doctors obliged me to eat more sugar, and this was a blessing for me, since I LOVE sweet food, and I  wouldn't like to have my beloved beer forbidden in my diet! (LOL).

I think that maybe, Alix was suffering of stress instead of being hypochondriac. It could happen! Stress uses to have some symptoms similars to diabetes.

RealAnastasia.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: amartin71718 on December 10, 2008, 09:55:12 PM
I believe Alexandra rather frequently (that is, over the course of years)suffered from jaw pain which may have been related to various dental problems or from a form of facial nerve pain called trigeminal neuralgia . It can be really debilitating.

See, that's what I'm thinking.  I didn't know about the jaw pain but I do suspect she had nerve issues, other than the sciatica.  So what kinds of disorders of the nerves are there?

She had nerve damage in her legs caused by a childhood accident.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: EmmyLee on December 10, 2008, 10:40:45 PM
Very interesting topic. I'd never really given it much thought.

Marty, I'm not sure I've heard about this childhood accident? Could anyone enlighten me? I think I'll do some searching of the forum.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on December 11, 2008, 12:17:03 AM
Charlotte Zeepvat even gives us a precise date for this accident:
"On 10 March [1879] she fell on a cucumber frame in the garden and cut her leg, and was proud to display her bandages beside her uncle's. 'I wish his were as trifling as hers', Ella said , though she could not help being amused." [Queen Victoria's Youngest Son - The Untold Story of Prince Leopold, p. 180]
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Erika on December 11, 2008, 05:41:22 AM
I know that Carolly Erickson's book about Alexandra is not very reliable but this is how she describes the accident;
"One day in January Alicky, Irene and Ernie were playing in the garden, and Alicky began to chase the two older children, who ran across an area where seedlings were growing under glass, but Alicky, too young to be cautious, crashed through it. Blood began to pour from her lacerated legs, and she screamed in pain and fear."
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: carkuczyn on December 11, 2008, 06:49:43 AM
I was always under the impression that she exhibited many symptoms of porphyria.  It would explain the blotchy skin, the "heart" symptoms, and the pains in her legs.  Lots has been written and speculated on the possibility of porphyria being in her family.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Erika on December 11, 2008, 07:42:37 AM
I  always suspected that Alix suffered from a skin condition called Rosacea.

My mum suffers from Rosacea and when she is stressed or in an uncomfortable situation red spots appear on her chins and neck.

It affects mostly caucasians of mainly north-western European descent, and has been nicknamed the 'curse of the Celts' by some in Britain and Ireland, but can also affect people of other ethnicities. It begins as erythema (flushing and redness) on the central face and across the cheeks, nose, or forehead but can also less commonly affect the neck, chest, ears, and scalp. Rosacea affects both sexes, but is almost three times more common in women, and has a peak age of onset between 30 and 60.

Alix
http://s81.photobucket.com/albums/j231/Alexei-7/?action=view&current=c12a2c62.jpg

Woman suffering from Rosacea
http://www.consumersresearchcncl.org/Healthcare/Dermatologists/images/rosacea.jpg


Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on December 11, 2008, 08:50:39 PM
I was always under the impression that she exhibited many symptoms of porphyria.  It would explain the blotchy skin, the "heart" symptoms, and the pains in her legs.  Lots has been written and speculated on the possibility of porphyria being in her family.


I had to look up porphyria, and it does sound likely!
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: EmmyLee on December 11, 2008, 11:04:01 PM
Thank you, Erika and Helen. What a scary experience for her.

I'd also never really noticed how flushed Alexandra's cheeks are in that photo. It does seem possible that rosacea might have been one of her ailments.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: clockworkgirl21 on December 12, 2008, 07:16:41 AM
Has anyone ever seen a TV show called Mystery Diagnosis? Every episode it gives us the true stories of two people who sometimes go through years of strange symptoms and a lot of pain. Depending on the case, sometimes the person goes through years of pain, and doctors either can't figure it out or think the person is trying to get attention. The worst ones are when parents are sure something is wrong with their babies, and the doctors don't seem to care or believe them.

It would be very difficult to diagnose Alix now. I have many symptoms of diabetes myself, but I don't actually suffer from the disease.  ;) Yet it's very interesting to read through the speculations.

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: amartin71718 on December 12, 2008, 04:03:26 PM
I've seen it. It's really cool!
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Erika on December 18, 2008, 04:12:42 PM
It would be interesting to know what the doctor, who was "thrown out" of the palace in 1911 (not 100% sure about the year) said about Alix health. I guess he said something that they didn't want to hear. I do wonder what it was...
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: aleksandr pavlovich on December 18, 2008, 04:31:52 PM
Attention, Reply #23:  Perhaps "psychosomatic," or the  equivalent thereof.  No definitive conclusion will ever be reached here on this topic; it is truly "playing doctor."  AP
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on December 19, 2008, 09:05:27 PM
No definitive conclusion will ever be reached here on this topic; it is truly "playing doctor."  AP

Of course.  But sometimes it is fun to speculate just a little. 
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: lilavanderhorn on December 25, 2008, 09:27:14 AM
I don't think Alix had rosacea.  The redness and blushing happens to certain people because of their reaction to uncomfortable situations.  I know because it happens to me.  It tends to happen around the face and neck area, looks like a rash, but it goes away when I calm down.  In a shy self concious person like Alix, it was bound to flair up.  There is an actual name of this condition, it is not life threatening, but you can get surgery for it.  As for her heart issues, she had diptheria as a child, this can lead to heart failure.  She might have had this later in life, exacerbated by all the stress she was under.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Erika on December 25, 2008, 01:48:12 PM
I don't think Alix had rosacea.  The redness and blushing happens to certain people because of their reaction to uncomfortable situations.  I know because it happens to me.  It tends to happen around the face and neck area, looks like a rash, but it goes away when I calm down.  In a shy self concious person like Alix, it was bound to flair up.  There is an actual name of this condition, it is not life threatening, but you can get surgery for it.  As for her heart issues, she had diptheria as a child, this can lead to heart failure.  She might have had this later in life, exacerbated by all the stress she was under.

My mother says that people who easily tend to blush often get rosacea so maybe Alix developed it in her later years. But I don't know. I am only speculating. You are probably right lilavanderhorn.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: carkuczyn on December 25, 2008, 09:32:49 PM
I just received "Purple Secret" as a Christmas gift which is a book about the genetic illnesses in the British Royal family.  It presents a strong case for the existence of porphyria in many of the descendants of King George III which would include Alexandra.  I stand by my previous statement, that I think she had porphyria.  It is an excellent read for anyone interested in further studying the illnesses of the Empress.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Erika on December 26, 2008, 04:57:13 AM
I just received "Purple Secret" as a Christmas gift which is a book about the genetic illnesses in the British Royal family.  It presents a strong case for the existence of porphyria in many of the descendants of King George III which would include Alexandra.  I stand by my previous statement, that I think she had porphyria.  It is an excellent read for anyone interested in further studying the illnesses of the Empress.

I just read about porphyria and it seems possible that she suffered from it. I must add something to the rosacea discussion. People who have rosacea very often have problems with their eyes. It feels like their eyes are burning, espacially in the winter. I think I remember reading somewhere that Alix's eyes did trouble her in her later years. But I don't remember reading what kind of eye trouble she had. She maybe just suffered from bad eye sight as she got older...
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on December 26, 2008, 07:05:03 AM
In 1911, Alix wrote that her eyes had gone bad as a result of too much writing, reading and sewing. She often did this while resting on a couch, possibly by poor lamplight.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Erika on December 26, 2008, 07:59:42 AM
In 1911, Alix wrote that her eyes had gone bad as a result of too much writing, reading and sewing. She often did this while resting on a couch, possibly by poor lamplight.

Thank you Helen!
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: carkuczyn on December 28, 2008, 01:40:34 AM
I am having trouble believing that she had an "eyesight" problem due to aging in 1911.  She would have been only 39 years old.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Lalee on December 28, 2008, 01:49:18 AM
I have also read that she had trouble with her eyes, and that she had to wear glasses whenever she did those things.

Wasn't her eyesight also bad from a lot of crying?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: nena on December 28, 2008, 01:54:14 AM
Yes from crying and too often sewing. And many night without sleeping,and nervous problems caused by worrying for Aleksei. Poor the Tsarina. :(
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on December 28, 2008, 03:08:45 AM
I am having trouble believing that she had an "eyesight" problem due to aging in 1911.  She would have been only 39 years old.
39 is not an unusual age to need reading glasses. People's eye sights start to deteriorate due to old age at about the age of 40 years, and nowadays many people start wearing reading glasses somewhere in their early forties. If Alexandra had read and written by poor lamplight a lot, it may very well be that she had difficulty focusing, especially when she was tired.

I just received "Purple Secret" as a Christmas gift which is a book about the genetic illnesses in the British Royal family.  It presents a strong case for the existence of porphyria in many of the descendants of King George III which would include Alexandra.  I stand by my previous statement, that I think she had porphyria.  ...
"Purple Secret" mentions the DNA tests performed to identify the remains found in Siberia, but does not provide any evidence that Alexandra suffered from porphyria; I think it does not even discuss the question whether her various health problems might have been caused by porphyria. And for good reasons, I think: Alexandra suffered from back problems, headaches, fatigue, anxiety at public functions, and an 'enlarged heart' (cardiomegaly?), but not from symptoms common in porphyria patients such as abdominal pains, vomiting, seizures, hallucinations, paranoia, depression, etc.; the clinical picture of her health problems does not seem to fit that of porphyria.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on December 28, 2008, 09:52:26 PM
I am having trouble believing that she had an "eyesight" problem due to aging in 1911.  She would have been only 39 years old.
39 is not an unusual age to need reading glasses. People's eye sights start to deteriorate due to old age at about the age of 40 years, and nowadays many people start wearing reading glasses somewhere in their early forties. If Alexandra had read and written by poor lamplight a lot, it may very well be that she had difficulty focusing, especially when she was tired.

I'm 31, and I'm noticing a diminishing ability to see distances.  (Mind you, out of my entire family, I'm the last one to need glasses!)  That Alexandra (or anyone) would need reading glasses at 39 is not at all farfetched to me.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: EmmyLee on December 29, 2008, 12:07:58 PM
Helen Rappaport listed off quite a few ailments for Alexandra:
-eyesight
-heart pain and shortness of breath from nervous anxiety
-sciatica
-facial neuralgia (I don't think I'd ever heard of her suffering from this)
-cyanosis
-acute earache
-swollen legs
-severe headaches
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: amartin71718 on December 29, 2008, 12:36:23 PM
I read in Ella: Princess, Saint, and Martyr that their mother suffered from neuralgia. I also looked up possible causes of cyanosis. They are:

Abnormal hemoglobin levels
Bronchospasm
Congenital heart disease
Heart failure
Heart valve disease
High altitude
Hypothermia
Hypoventilation
Lung disease
Myocardial infarction
Polycythaemia
Pulmonary embolism
COPD (Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis)
Asthma
Methemoglobinemia
Tetralogy of Fallot
Right to left shunts in heart or great vessels

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on December 29, 2008, 03:46:35 PM
Exactly! The Empress suffered from various symptoms, the severity and causes of which cannot be established properly any more. The symptoms  mentioned have several possible causes, as Marty_1994 pointed out correctly, so layman's attempts to 'diagnose' the Empress more than a hundred years after her death are just speculation.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on December 29, 2008, 09:33:43 PM
Forgive me if I sound slightly defensive.  Since I authored the original post on this thread, I can't help but feel so.

My intent here was discussion.  I learned a lot!  I'd never heard of porphyria, or cyanosis, and I discovered that the Empress suffered from symptoms I wasn't aware she'd suffered from.  It helped me.  I was well aware that any discussion herein would be nothing more than speculation and that most symptoms have any number of causes.

Am I alone in finding a little speculation an indulgent treat every now and again?  I am, after all, not a "serious historian", just someone interested in learning more.

That's all. 
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: EmmyLee on December 29, 2008, 10:05:25 PM
No, not at all, historyfan! I think it's just fine for us to speculate about what ailed Alexandra and what may have caused it. I agree that such discussions as this help us to discover new things we didn't know, even if there's no way we can know for sure that we're right about these diagnoses. I think this is a very interesting thread, and I'm glad you started it.  ;)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on December 30, 2008, 03:28:19 AM
I politely disagree. It may be fine to wonder whether Alexandra's eyesight had deteriorated due to too much reading or crying, but I think that suggestive speculation about serious disorders when it is clear that Alexandra did not suffer from the most common symptoms of these disorders is overstepping the mark. This is just my opinion, of course.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Janet Ashton on December 30, 2008, 12:33:19 PM
FWIW, I believe that tests were done several years ago on some of the Empress's remains in the hope of either finding or ruling out the genetic mutation that was found in some of her relations believed to suffer from porphyria (e.g. Charlotte of Prussia). The test on Alexandra was negative.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on December 30, 2008, 02:28:34 PM
Thank you for this information, Janet!  :)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: EmmyLee on December 30, 2008, 05:01:56 PM
I politely disagree. It may be fine to wonder whether Alexandra's eyesight had deteriorated due to too much reading or crying, but I think that suggestive speculation about serious disorders when it is clear that Alexandra did not suffer from the most common symptoms of these disorders is overstepping the mark. This is just my opinion, of course.

All right, this is where I agree with you, Helen. I agree that "speculation about serious disorders when it is clear that Alexandra did not suffer from the most common symptoms of these disorders" is not a direction our discussion should take (emphasis in the quote added by me). If it is indeed clear that Alexandra definitely did not experience those symptoms, that we likely don't need to speculate further on that particular disorder. However, when it isn't clear what symptoms if any she had for a disorder on our list, I don't see why we can't discuss that possibility.

Perhaps we could just comment on this and then cross those disorders off of our possible lists?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on December 30, 2008, 08:30:18 PM
Yes, thank you, Janet.

And Helen, thank you for your opinion.  I don't entirely disagree with you.  I just think it's too bad that poor Alexandra was never formally diagnosed with anything, and treated accordingly.  (At least not to my admittedly limited knowledge!  Someone please feel free to correct me f I'm wrong.)  It could've saved her a lot of problems.  Of course I'm aware that medical science wasn't what it is now, but honestly, there are a lot of people today who are merely treated for symptoms, without getting a whole, clear picture of what actually ails them. 

I'm a naturally curious person.  My favourite question is "Why?"  I'm not happy with just facts.  Sometimes even having possibilities helps, if the alternative is knowing nothing at all.  That's just me.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: carkuczyn on December 31, 2008, 04:43:37 AM
"Purple Secret" mentions the DNA tests performed to identify the remains found in Siberia, but does not provide any evidence that Alexandra suffered from porphyria; I think it does not even discuss the question whether her various health problems might have been caused by porphyria. And for good reasons, I think: Alexandra suffered from back problems, headaches, fatigue, anxiety at public functions, and an 'enlarged heart' (cardiomegaly?), but not from symptoms common in porphyria patients such as abdominal pains, vomiting, seizures, hallucinationsepression, etc.; the clinical picture of her health problems does not seem to fit that of porphyria.                                                                                                                                                   



 She did have abdominal pains, paranoia, and depression.  One does not have to have every symptom of porphyria in order to be diagnosed with it.  And there are several forms of porphyria...one in particular being porphyria variegate which presents with a variety of symptoms.  I do not think porphyria can be eliminated.  Also the book devotes a whole chapter on the possibility of Alexandra having porphyria.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on December 31, 2008, 06:34:20 AM
She did have abdominal pains, paranoia, and depression.  One does not have to have every symptom of porphyria in order to be diagnosed with it.  And there are several forms of porphyria...one in particular being porphyria variegate which presents with a variety of symptoms.  I do not think porphyria can be eliminated.  Also the book devotes a whole chapter on the possibility of Alexandra having porphyria.
Carkuczyn, could you please provide reliable sources proving that the Empress suffered from regular abdominal pains and was diagnosed with paranoia and depression, other than stories from her adversaries? She may have felt suspicious of various people, but you only have to read the "The Empress Fights Back" thread to see that her suspicions were often justified. And while she often felt very tired, her letters show no signs of a clinical depression. 

Perhaps you have a different edition of the book than the 1998 edition I have. What edition do you have? According to the index of my copy, the Tsarina is mentioned on not more than 4 pages throughout the book. And although the table of contents mentions a chapter on Princess Charlotte's daughter Feodora, my copy has no chapter on Alexandra Feodorovna and the possibility of her having porphyria.   :-\
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on December 31, 2008, 07:36:57 AM
Thank you for your posts, EmmyLee and historyfan!

I just think it's too bad that poor Alexandra was never formally diagnosed with anything, and treated accordingly.  (At least not to my admittedly limited knowledge!  Someone please feel free to correct me f I'm wrong.)  It could've saved her a lot of problems.  Of course I'm aware that medical science wasn't what it is now, but honestly, there are a lot of people today who are merely treated for symptoms, without getting a whole, clear picture of what actually ails them. 
Yes, it is too bad. When Alexandra took 'the cure' in Harrogate in 1894, a doctor advised her to lie on a sofa, so that more blood would flow to her aching leg. I've always wondered whether present-day physicians and specialists would think this a wise recommendation for the long term. 

Diagnosing her may not have been that easy for the doctors then - i.e. without modern blood tests etc. - and finding a remedy/treatment probably even more difficult. Alexandra herself realised that her tiredness was at least partly stress-related. Her brother said the same about her earaches.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: carkuczyn on December 31, 2008, 07:56:59 AM
I have a 1999 copy (the publisher is Corgi Books).  Chapter 11 is titled, "Alexandra, Russia's Tragic Tsarina" and it includes pages 270-292.  The author leaves the theory open to speculation.....but I believe the evidence is strong that she did have porphyria.  Doctors of her day did not often make official diagnoses of depression and paranoia preferring instead to call it "suspiciousness" and "melancholia".  Psychiatry was not as refined and specific as it is today.  I am a registered psychiatric nurse......and I can honestly say that psychiatry is not an exact science due to the fact that we deal with things that are not able to be seen on an xray.  Today, I am certain that depression would be in her diagnosis along with a lot of psychotic features.  Just my educated opinion..........I am always open to debate.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Janet Ashton on December 31, 2008, 09:18:48 AM
I have a 1999 copy (the publisher is Corgi Books).  Chapter 11 is titled, "Alexandra, Russia's Tragic Tsarina" and it includes pages 270-292.  The author leaves the theory open to speculation.....but I believe the evidence is strong that she did have porphyria.  

The tests I mentioned were carried out at John Rohl's wish after he wrote this chapter. He was disappointed to find that they were negative, but negative they were. So unless Alexandra's porphyria was in some way caused by ANOTHER, different and undetected genetic flaw (which would be pretty unfortunate in one family!) I guess one has to accept that she did not have porphyria.

Apart from this, I was sceptical about Rohl's thesis because I don't think that her tendency to develope red spots when embarrassed - a common tendency in fair skinned people; even Anna Anderson shared it and this fact was used by her supporters to suggest they must be related, which we know was not the case - was in any way the same thing as the agonising - and long-lasting - blistering and peeling of the skin described by her aunt Vicky and cousin Charlotte when they were exposed to certain drugs or even to sunlight. I have never in any of her correspondence or any related medical reports seen Alexandra declare that she had been afflicted by a blistering rash. Nor, indeed, is there any particular evidence of stomach pains, vomiting or so on. Once or twice she mentions that medicines have affected her stomach; I don't think this is any particular evidence of porphria as it happens to a lot of people. And, despite reporting every medical detail to her husband (they discussed his constipation at length) she never mentions purple or bloody urine. Variegate porphyria certainly has a variety of symptoms (and I don't claim to be an expert since most of my information comes from Rohl), but it was variegate porphyria from which her cousin Charlotte is now assumed to have suffered, and I don't think that her symptoms had much in common with Alexandra's at all.
The other royal diagnosed with it more recently was of course William of Gloucester, whose symptoms were more similar to Charlotte's, including the blistering of the skin.

I have always accepted that Alexandra suffered from migraine, sciatica and - later in life - from possible genuine damage to the heart brought about by anxiety (which will eventually cause or contriibute to high blood pressure and thus ultimately damage all internal organs)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on December 31, 2008, 09:47:20 AM
Thank you for the information on your copy, carkuczym! This chapter does not appear in my copy.  :'(

I understand that psychiatry was not as refined and specific as it is today, and that it's not an exact science. You say you are a psychiatric nurse and are certain that the Empress suffered from depression and had a lot of psychotic features. I think most professional psychiatric nurses and psychiatrists would not make a diagnosis at all or would exercise more restraint in 'diagnosing' someone whom they have never met, who has been dead for more than a century, and about whom many fabrications have been spread, including fabrications about her mental health. After all, labels stick and we're not talking about such 'innocent' illnesses as the flue.  :(

And thank you, Janet, for the further information on the tests. The tests confirm what I already suspected, as I too thought that Charlotte's symptoms were clearly different from Alexandra's.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: EmmyLee on December 31, 2008, 10:36:30 AM
I just think it's too bad that poor Alexandra was never formally diagnosed with anything, and treated accordingly.  (At least not to my admittedly limited knowledge!  Someone please feel free to correct me f I'm wrong.)  It could've saved her a lot of problems.

On page 60 of Helen Rappaport's book (yes, I've been quoting this a lot, but I just barely finished it), she mentions a German doctor, Dr. Fischer, visiting Alexandra and reporting on her "mental and physical condition" in 1910. Apparently, "what the eminent doctor had to say was, however, deemed too close for comfort and he had not been invited back to the palace again."

I wonder what he said.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Janet Ashton on December 31, 2008, 11:12:06 AM

And thank you, Janet, for the further information on the tests. The tests confirm what I already suspected, as I too thought that Charlotte's symptoms were clearly different from Alexandra's.

I think they had some symptoms in common - and described them in such similar terms that when Rohl's book first appeared I sat and thought about all this a lot and wondered about Alexandra - but those don't seem to me to have been the ones which would be crucial in a diagnosis of variegate porphyria. Charlotte, for example, complained a lot of "rheumatism" - as did many of QV's descendants, including Alexandra - and her "nerves" (ditto!), as well as endless headaches, but it was the abdominal and cutaneous symptoms which I think were crucial to Rohl's thesis, and these are the ones where Alexandra differed, I felt. Charlotte also seemed to have a definite paralysis of the limbs at times, which is due to anaemia arising from errors of haem synthesis, whereas Alexandra never compained of that, even if she did say she had pains in various places.....
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on December 31, 2008, 11:39:28 AM
Yes, it is too bad. When Alexandra took 'the cure' in Harrogate in 1894, a doctor advised her to lie on a sofa, so that more blood would flow to her aching leg. I've always wondered whether present-day physicians and specialists would think this a wise recommendation for the long term. 

Diagnosing her may not have been that easy for the doctors then - i.e. without modern blood tests etc. - and finding a remedy/treatment probably even more difficult. Alexandra herself realised that her tiredness was at least partly stress-related. Her brother said the same about her earaches.

I've often thought that at least part of her ongoing problem was lack of exercise - advised, of course, by her doctors, who thought she should rest, but good walks (as much as the sciatica would have allowed her) would have helped.  Or swimming, or such.  Nicholas, after all, exercised constantly, and he was healthy as a horse (except one or two notable episodes!)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: imperial angel on December 31, 2008, 02:38:10 PM
It is really hard to say now what she did or didn't suffer from. There was defintely much stress in her life that contributed to her ailments. She seems to have had anxiety, maybe.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on January 01, 2009, 03:43:34 AM
I've often thought that at least part of her ongoing problem was lack of exercise - advised, of course, by her doctors, who thought she should rest, but good walks (as much as the sciatica would have allowed her) would have helped.  Or swimming, or such. 
Yes, this is exactly what I thought too. Without proper tests it's impossible to establish whether some recommendations she got were 'wrong'. However, if her condition allowed more exercise, it could have strengthened her muscles, including her heart muscle. She did take exercise in the first years of her marriage, by the way. She joined Nicholas on his walks and even had a rowing machine.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on January 01, 2009, 05:28:03 AM
I think they had some symptoms in common - and described them in such similar terms that when Rohl's book first appeared I sat and thought about all this a lot and wondered about Alexandra - but those don't seem to me to have been the ones which would be crucial in a diagnosis of variegate porphyria. Charlotte, for example, complained a lot of "rheumatism" - as did many of QV's descendants, including Alexandra - and her "nerves" (ditto!), as well as endless headaches, but it was the abdominal and cutaneous symptoms which I think were crucial to Rohl's thesis, and these are the ones where Alexandra differed, I felt. Charlotte also seemed to have a definite paralysis of the limbs at times, which is due to anaemia arising from errors of haem synthesis, whereas Alexandra never compained of that, even if she did say she had pains in various places.....
Yes, there was some overlap in their complaints. However, rheumatic pains were very common back then. QV's descendants complained of rheumatism, but so did millions of other people. I think the diagnostic value of such pains is probably limited in this context.  As regards Alexandra's endless headaches, I thought them less relevant, as I think headaches are not a primary diagnostic symptom of porfyria. But I may be mistaken. I do wonder, though, what did cause these headaches.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on January 01, 2009, 05:55:32 AM
It would be interesting to know what the doctor, who was "thrown out" of the palace in 1911 (not 100% sure about the year) said about Alix health. I guess he said something that they didn't want to hear. I do wonder what it was...
Attention, Reply #23:  Perhaps "psychosomatic," or the  equivalent thereof.  No definitive conclusion will ever be reached here on this topic; it is truly "playing doctor."  AP
Alexandra seems to have been open to the possibility that her complaints were at least partly psychosomatic. In a letter to her friend Margarethe Pfulstein, née Freiin von Fabrice, from December 1913, Alexandra explicitly recognised that she did not suffer from organic heart failure, but that the pains were caused by endless worries and sorrows and her tendency to bottle up things. And on 12/13 June 1915, she wrote to Nicholas about heart pains and that hiding one's sorrow, swallowing all, made one physically tired.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: EmmyLee on January 01, 2009, 11:41:32 AM
I agree that part of Alexandra's problem was her lack of exercise, however hindered by her sciatica. As for her headaches, they could have been caused by so much stress and worry over Alexei.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: amartin71718 on January 06, 2009, 09:27:53 PM
i knew, where she was older, she has hear-problems. the children and nicky must speak laud, soo that she can underatnd them
Where did you read this?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on January 06, 2009, 09:58:16 PM
i knew, where she was older, she has hear-problems. the children and nicky must speak laud, soo that she can underatnd them

Queen Alexandra of England (wife of Edward VII) had a hearing problem.  I don't remember reading that Empress Alexandra did.  Goodness, I hope not.  That poor woman had enough problems.  : (
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on January 06, 2009, 10:00:30 PM
How did they treat Alexandra's ear infection if antibiotics didn't really exist in the early 1900's?

I may be wrong, but I think they did, in very primitive forms. 

Even if they didn't, they would have had other ways of dealing with such problems.  Like you, I'd be interested in knowing what those were.  We'd probably think they were crazy, these days.  lol!
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on January 10, 2009, 02:09:13 AM
How did they treat Alexandra's ear infection if antibiotics didn't really exist in the early 1900's?
I'm not even sure they did treat it. After the death of Princess Elisabeth of Hesse in Skiernewice in 1903, Alexandra got a cold and inflammation of the ear. I think Miss Eagar wrote that Alexandra kept to her sofa/bed for a period of time as long as six(?) weeks. Would it have taken so much time to cure an ear infection with antibiotics?    :-\
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Janet Ashton on January 10, 2009, 10:11:05 AM
How did they treat Alexandra's ear infection if antibiotics didn't really exist in the early 1900's?
I'm not even sure they did treat it. After the death of Princess Elisabeth of Hesse in Skiernewice in 1903, Alexandra got a cold and inflammation of the ear. I think Miss Eagar wrote that Alexandra kept to her sofa/bed for a period of time as long as six(?) weeks. Would it have taken so much time to cure an ear infection with antibiotics?    :-\

Two things strike me about this episode: one being the extraordinary amount of personal, medical detail which found its way into the press! In the Times they describe the infection with gruesome precision, right down to discharges and so forth. Imagine the complaints of current royalty being detailed in this way! :) (Conversely I am sure that if Alix were a U.S. President they certainly WOULD include every personal detail; I have seen this done).

The other thing that struck me was that she was just pregnant with Alexei when this happened, and I wondered if the otitis media were used as a cover for not moving her while she was suffering badly from morning sickness, but without making an official announcement (since her previous pregnancy had been the one that disappeared, for whatever reason).

I am pretty certain that antibiotics DIDN'T exist at this date, except perhaps any natural antibiotics used in homeopathic medicine. I understood that the first commercially manufactured antibiotic was penicillin, around the time of the Second World War, but I see that some people also count Salvarsan, a product used to treat syphilis, which was available only from circa 1910. Edited to say: we should recall that Alexandra's cousin died from a very similar ear infection, now easily treatable with antibiotics - mastoiditis being the result if unlucky of untreated otitis media.....(and my grandmother, born in 1910, almost died as a child from the same thing, for lack of antibiotics)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on January 10, 2009, 02:37:50 PM
Thank you for the information on antibiotics.

The other thing that struck me was that she was just pregnant with Alexei when this happened, and I wondered if the otitis media were used as a cover for not moving her while she was suffering badly from morning sickness, but without making an official announcement (since her previous pregnancy had been the one that disappeared, for whatever reason).
She certainly suffered from something, but you may be right and it may have been used as an excuse to allow her more rest.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tdora1 on January 11, 2009, 02:59:32 PM
Well, we know that she suffered from sciatica, and that can be extremely painful to the point of not being able to walk. And the nerve damage in her legs from the glass incident also would have added to that. I think she also suffered from CFS. But, I'm no doctor, that just my 2 cents.

Sciatica is merely a descriptive term; it is not a medical diagnosis. It describes some class of pain and/or altered sensation down the sciatic nerve diagonally across the buttocks and down the nerve through the backs of the thighs. There would have to be a source of damage or deficit for such disability - pain enough would cause a lameness but would not cripple one in the sense that the limb(s) were useless.

It is exacerbated by direct contact with cold etc. Nerve "pain" is known as neuropathy - this does not in itself cause disabilitity. MS is a stripping away of the myelin sheath covering nerves and so is a separate pathology.

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tdora1 on January 11, 2009, 03:05:20 PM
In pre-antibiotic days, severe infections  introduced into minor wounds or skin probes in ways that seem incredible to us now.

John Brown died of a superficial streptococcal infection of the face. for ex.

Ear, nose and throat infections then could go very serious very fast (this is not the same pathogenic behaviour of the otitis media bacteria that worries all these days).
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on January 11, 2009, 03:49:13 PM
Alix was a regular taker of the first generation of barbiturate tranquilizers. Which, interestingly, seemed to exacerbate her myriad physical health problems - notably with her sofa-sitting, her complaints of 'heart cramps' and the lamen which was severe enough that even during her engagement, Nicolas had to push her around the streets of Windsor in a bath-chair. As well as stress and emotional excitement setting of the symptons, barbiturates are considered the most angerous precursor of an attack and are thus absolutely contraindicated for porphyria

On an other thread, Janet Ashton wrote that Alexandra was tested negative for porphyria.

Alexandra had been pushed around in Harrogate too, but not because her limbs were useless - her leg hurt, but she could walk. In Windsor, she may simply have followed the advice the doctors in Harrogate had just given her, i.e to sit, or better, lie on a sofa to allow more blood to flow to her painful leg.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tdora1 on March 05, 2009, 06:48:48 PM
So Alix "tested negative for porphyria" ?!

There absolutely were no tests whatsoever for this illness when she was alive. Indeed, porphyria (an inherent disorder of metabolism) itself had not even been identified when Alix died in 1917.

The historical porphyria theories for all these royals - whether George III or Princess Charlotte of Prussia - have ALL been made posthumously. The only exception is that of Prince William of Gloucester who was diagnosed in 1969. This was upon examination based upon his symptoms and the suggestive family history. It was 1969 - same year as the study by the Macalpines of George III - although the RAF Dr who first diagnosed William already knew that it was in the family as it is almost certain that the old 1st Duke Of Gloucester - Prince Henry son of George V  - had the illness.
 
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on March 06, 2009, 01:44:03 AM
barbiturates ... are thus absolutely contraindicated for porphyria
On an other thread, Janet Ashton wrote that Alexandra was tested negative for porphyria.
So Alix "tested negative for porphyria" ?!
...The historical porphyria theories for all these royals - whether George III or Princess Charlotte of Prussia - have ALL been made posthumously.
Yes, of course it was posthumously.  My point was that tests have shown that Alix did not suffer from porphyria.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Olga Maria on March 09, 2009, 11:59:09 PM

Yes, it is. She often had problems with walking and was sometimes meant to stay in a wheelchair. She suffered from sciatica.

Alix's health was never really that good.

Olga somehow complained about her mother's ill health in one of her letters to an aunt.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: nena on March 10, 2009, 09:51:52 AM
Olga's 1913 diary shows how many often Alexandra was ill, or in bed. Didn't read it, only read here.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tdora1 on March 10, 2009, 05:59:31 PM
What tests Helen?
What tests were made upon the exhumed and identified remains of the Tsarina?
What substances did they test for and what were the results?
-Just because no tests showed any results for drugs doesn't mean any tests were in fact ever done!

- After 80 years, nothing of her fleshly remains were left to test for tissue and if any tissue were by chance left, no drugs trace would survive anyway.


Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Tdora1 on March 10, 2009, 06:10:13 PM
Alix's remains were a few pulpy smashed remnants of skeleton fragments in the pit of a forest.
Nothing was left which could have yielded any remnants of testable substance.
her mitochondrial DNA was eventually extracted with much difficulty - but that doesn't mean the pulp left from the centifuge will throw up traces of her barbiturate and morphine habits too...it is not chemiically possible.

All we have is the diaries and records.  They show that Alix was a pill-popper of severe proportions.

The fragments of her corpse yield nothing. Even her cause of death had to be satisified by eyewitnes testimony before her skull was positively idenified.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on March 11, 2009, 03:49:22 AM
 If you could find the time to re-read my posts, you would see that I didn't claim anything about traces of barbiturates or morphine shown in remnants or whatever.

All I did was refer to remarks that Janet Ashton had made on an other thread, where the specific theory was discussed whether the Empress  suffered from porphyria, and the chapter discussing this theory added in later editions to "Purple Secret" by John C.G. Roehl et al. (of which I only have a first edition.)  If you are interested in Janet's remarks, I think you can easily find them using the Search function.  :)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: violetta on March 11, 2009, 08:25:07 AM
it is a well-known fact that AF took drugs like barbiturates. Felix Yusupov in his memories on the murder of Rsputin also mentions that Nickolay II took drugs as well. Yusupov decided to murder Rasputin so he decided to establish a closer relation with him through Munya Golovina, Rasputin`s admirer  and adherer. When Rasputin and Yusupov became a sort of "friends", the former boasted about his influence on N and A. At that time a  famous doctor Badmaev was also admitted to Aleksandra Fedorovna`s ( it was during WW1), and Rasputin boasted that the Tzar is given some "herbs" that make hhim "calm" and make him "obey". I guess , these were some herbs which, taken in bigger doses, could have produced such an effect. I will try to find an appropriate passage in Yussupov1s book
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Robert_Hall on March 11, 2009, 10:25:50 AM
We also need to see this in the context of the times: these drugs and "herbs [I can only imagine what those were!] were not seen in the same light as today.  As I recall, cocaine was used to relieve dental distress and Nicholas II had notoriously bad teeth problems. Opium and it's derivatives was in common use as well.  The British made fortunes over that. Alexandra was equally well known for her aches & pains. Much of which, I suspect was due to hypochondria. But who would refuse her what she wanted ?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: violetta on March 11, 2009, 11:20:57 AM
true, no one could have refused to meet Alexandra`s requirements. ;) Apart from being the Empress she was very persevering and obstinate. As long as she had anything in mind she was able to go to any lengths to get it or to make someone get it for her i. e. her husband said that he preferred 1 Rasputin to 7 feats of hysteria a day  ;)But in case of   Rasputin and Badmaev and the  latter`s herbs, it was their deliberate wish to make NII 'as meek as a lamb" ( I believe this is the precise quotation) even to replace him with AF. So Rasputin & Badmaev did not give the Tsar these herbs for purely therapeutic purposes  ;) but deliberately wanted to govern his will for Go knows what purposes.  Rasputin admitted this during  his meetings with Felix Yusupov.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on March 11, 2009, 11:57:24 AM
We also need to see this in the context of the times: these drugs and "herbs [I can only imagine what those were!] were not seen in the same light as today.  As I recall, cocaine was used to relieve dental distress and Nicholas II had notoriously bad teeth problems. Opium and it's derivatives was in common use as well. 
Indeed. Cocaine and opium were used more freely then and people seemed less aware of the effects the sustained use of these substances might have on one's health. If I recall correctly, Nicholas and Alexandra did think of the addictiveness of certain drugs with regard to the substances Alexei was prescribed.

As regards herbs, I look forward to details about the calming herb species Rasputin referred to. It may have been the elixir discussed elsewhere on this forum, containing hashish and henbane. Medical cannabis is still used to treat pain nowadays - available only on prescription.

Have other sources than Rasputin confirmed that Badmaev prescribed this specific elixir to make Nicholas 'meek'?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Terence on March 11, 2009, 12:27:24 PM
But in case of   Rasputin and Badmaev andthe  latter`s herbs, it was their deliberate wish to make NII 'as meek as a lamb" ( I believe this is the precise quotation) even to replace him with AF. So Rasputin & Badmaev did not give the Tzar these herbs for purely theraupetic purposes  ;) but deliberately wanted to govern his will for Go knows what purposes.  Rasputin admitted this during  his meetings with Felix Yusupov.

So the source for this tale...that Rasputin and Badmiev conspired to use herbs to control Nicholas...is Felix Y.?  Ummm, perhaps a self-serving tale by Rasputin's murderer should be verfied from another source and not accepted unquestioned as the truth.

Anyone know of any other source to confirm Felix's claim?

T

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Robert_Hall on March 11, 2009, 01:49:49 PM
Good question Terrence.  I know I have read about this is  several books, but, I do not remember if they all used Yussoupov as the source. I would agree that was a bit "sensational" in his writings. So might be taken  with a grain of salt.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: violetta on March 11, 2009, 04:36:03 PM
Well, I`ll be in the libray on Friday so I`ll provide you with Yussupov`s quotations. please, be patient. anna karenina took opium according to her doctor`s prescription as a ...sleeping pill so I believe it was a usual CURE ;) for the members of the highest society
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: RomanovsFan4Ever on March 11, 2009, 04:51:27 PM
anna karenina took opium according to her doctor`s prescription as a ...sleeping pill so I believe it was a usual CURE ;) for the members of the highest society

I read this too.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: nena on March 11, 2009, 05:11:52 PM
Also read Rasputin used some special kind of medecines to control the Tsar. I don't believe in it.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Robert_Hall on March 11, 2009, 08:14:52 PM
So many things have been written about Rasputin, mostly negative, it is hard to know what to believe about him. He clearly had strong influence on the Empress, but controlling the Emperor ?  Nicholas may have had some sort of "herbal" tea, but I doubt he was controlled by anyone but his wife.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Geniebeanie on March 11, 2009, 09:10:22 PM
I have a queston.  When she was a child she injured her legs really bad.   Could that be part of the reason she had so much pain with her legs as a adult?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: amartin71718 on March 11, 2009, 10:04:19 PM
Most likely. The lacerations probably caused nerve damage. Also, her sciatica contributed to the problem, because sciatic pain shoots down the person's legs. It is very painful.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Olga Maria on March 11, 2009, 11:48:34 PM
I even wonder how many times were she able to stand up alone and walk through Tsarskoe.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: violetta on April 29, 2009, 02:51:55 PM
I read in someone`s memories (I don`t emember whose memories they were) the following thing. the author of these memories once saw a happy Imperial family walking in the Tsarskoe Selo garden. "Walking" was about all the members of the family except for Alexandra Feodorovna. She was in a wheelchair pushed by Nikolay II.The tzar pushed her wife`s chair and the were laughing loudly and happily....
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Nobility on September 18, 2009, 03:30:45 AM
This is a very interesting summary of the Empress' medical condition, couldnt find it on the forum anywhere.

Extract 'Last Years at the Court of Tzarskoie-Selo' English Edition by Alexander. I. Spiridovitch

Empress Alexandra Fedorovna belonged to the family of Hesse,

‘The morbid history of illness within the Hesse family was transmitted
in the male line, in the form of haemophilia,
Empress Alexandra Fedorovna belonged to the family of Hesse,
known for its morbid moods. She was the daughter of Grand Duke
Louis of Hesse and Princess Alice, the fourth daughter of Victoria,
Queen of England, her paternal grandfather and her father had been
sick for most of their lives. Her brothers and sisters had suffered from
hereditary diseases,

Page 284 Last Years at the Court of Tzarskoie-Selo

‘an illness accompanied by changes in the neurovascular system and
in the composition of the blood itself’. In the female side of the bloodline,
the hereditary illness was apparent in other forms. Grand Duchess
Elizabeth Fedorovna was a very sick lady.

‘For Alexandra Fedorovna, the hereditary illness was manifested, in
her youth, through a very weak nervous system and great impressionability;
later, due to the unfavourable conditions of life at the
Court, the nervous system began to show definite alterations, hystero
-neurasthenic phenomena and some psychological problems.
‘The hysteric nature of the nervous symptoms is proven to us through
the ease with which the Empress accepted positive suggestions from
some, and negative suggestions from others.
‘Her neurasthenic symptoms are apparent in the form of a great
weakness ‘asthenia’ in the body in general, and in the cardiac muscle
in particular, with painful sensations in the precordial region.
‘These complaints are also associated with oedema in the legs, due to
poor circulation’.
‘The problems in the neurovascular system just mentioned are also
evidenced by the regular changes in skin colour ‘dermographism’ and
by the appearance of rather large red patches on the face’.
‘As for the psychological problems ‘loss of psychological balance’,
these are mainly shown through a state of deep depression, a great
indifference to everything around her, and a tendency towards religious
daydreaming’.
‘The neurovascular phenomena concerned here ‘dilation or constriction
of the vessels’ become more pronounced as the critical age approaches.
They are then complicated by a feeling of anxiety, a weakening
of centres of inhibition, and intellectual problems mainly affecting
the logical functioning of intellectual functions.’
It was this illness, hysteron-neurasthenia, which had caused the Empress’
exaggerated likes and dislikes, her bizarre way of thinking and
acting, her religious exaltation, her belief in the supernatural in general,
and her faith in Rasputin in particular.
Initially, her illness had only affected her personal life and that of her
family. But as the critical age approached, and the illness became
more and more pronounced, the Empress had felt the need to intervene
in State matters,
‘an illness accompanied by changes in the neurovascular system and
in the composition of the blood itself’. In the female side of the bloodline,
the hereditary illness was apparent in other forms. Grand Duchess
Elizabeth Fedorovna was a very sick lady.
‘For Alexandra Fedorovna, the hereditary illness was manifested, in
her youth, through a very weak nervous system and great impressionability;
later, due to the unfavourable conditions of life at the
Court, the nervous system began to show definite alterations, hystero
-neurasthenic phenomena and some psychological problems.
‘The hysteric nature of the nervous symptoms is proven to us through
the ease with which the Empress accepted positive suggestions from
some, and negative suggestions from others.
‘Her neurasthenic symptoms are apparent in the form of a great
weakness ‘asthenia’ in the body in general, and in the cardiac muscle
in particular, with painful sensations in the precordial region.
‘These complaints are also associated with oedema in the legs, due to
poor circulation’.
‘The problems in the neurovascular system just mentioned are also
evidenced by the regular changes in skin colour ‘dermographism’ and
by the appearance of rather large red patches on the face’.
‘As for the psychological problems ‘loss of psychological balance’,
these are mainly shown through a state of deep depression, a great
indifference to everything around her, and a tendency towards religious
daydreaming’.
‘The neurovascular phenomena concerned here ‘dilation or constriction
of the vessels’ become more pronounced as the critical age approaches.
They are then complicated by a feeling of anxiety, a weakening
of centres of inhibition, and intellectual problems mainly affecting
the logical functioning of intellectual functions.’
It was this illness, hysteron-neurasthenia, which had caused the Empress’
exaggerated likes and dislikes, her bizarre way of thinking and
acting, her religious exaltation, her belief in the supernatural in general,
and her faith in Rasputin in particular.
Initially, her illness had only affected her personal life and that of her
family. But as the critical age approached, and the illness became
more and more pronounced, the Empress had felt the need to intervene
in State matters,

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on September 22, 2009, 10:00:49 PM
I'm actually surprised no one's commented on this.  Myself, I don't know what to make of it, really.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: amartin71718 on September 22, 2009, 10:33:06 PM
Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fedorovna was a very sick lady.
GD Ella was sick? What? I've never heard anything like that. Or is that a typo?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: RealAnastasia on September 22, 2009, 11:26:58 PM
After reading all the info you posted - very useful, for say the least! - I can conclude more than ever, that the Empress suffered from psychosomatic symptoms, but that, at the same time, she had a REAL illness, in this case, troubles at the neurovascular system.

But there's a thing that amazed me a lot: the depiction of the pains she used to felt al the pericordial region. This is typical of acute panics disorders, as Panic Attack, to quote only one of these. When the Empress felt that she was almost to faint, he heart began to pound lloudly, and her face would began to cover of red blotches while her lips would become blue-ish and her chest was suddenly in pain, she seemed to be clearly suffering of Panic Attack.

Do you know if she suffered from all these symptoms after or before Alexei's birth? I think it's quite important...

RealAnastasia.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Nobility on September 24, 2009, 07:37:39 AM
RealAnastasia./Marty/History Fan

Yes the extent of the illness being quite different on the female side of the family, surprised me as well.

In the Book Vol 1 English translation[/url] of Alexander Spiridovitch, Spiridovitch is quoting a conversation he had with on of the respected medic professors, that knew the Empress' ailments.

The onset of the illness in a serious form occured well after the birth of the heir, and was at the time of their visit to Livadia, in the Crimea.

For me it puts a different slant on her life as she became more unwell.

Its very sad, and she must have known the seriousness of the decease and had to live with so much of her life.

I think the reason this hasnt been out there before at least in such detail is because the Memoirs have never been fully translated, before,

There is a great deal more.

Nobility



Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Janet Ashton on September 24, 2009, 02:25:37 PM

RealAnastasia./Marty/History Fan

Yes the extent of the illness being quite different on the female side of the family, surprised me as well.

In the Book Vol 1 English translation[/url] of Alexander Spiridovitch, Spiridovitch is quoting a conversation he had with on of the respected medic professors, that knew the Empress' ailments.

The onset of the illness in a serious form occured well after the birth of the heir, and was at the time of their visit to Livadia, in the Crimea.

For me it puts a different slant on her life as she became more unwell.

Its very sad, and she must have known the seriousness of the decease and had to live with so much of her life.

I think the reason this hasnt been out there before at least in such detail is because the Memoirs have never been fully translated, before,

There is a great deal more.

Nobility





Hi
  While Spiridovich's view is interesting as being that of a contemporary I think it's important to note that he makes a few errors which cause one to question the extent of his medical knowledge. He is wrong, for example, to say that the illness came from her father's side of the family; and I am not sure that he is correct in his assessment of her father's health; still less that of her siblings. Two of her sisters lived to the age of 87; Alexandra's father was healthy when young and died in middle age of cardio-vascular disease unrelated to hemophilia (which of course was not in his family). He may, of course, have passed on a tendency to hypertension or heart disease to his daughter. Alexandra herself believed that he problems were caused by stress, which is plausible in both psychological and physical terms. Of course, hemophilic women (i.e. carriers) may bleed more than other women, but I am not sure how this would produce the "nervous" symptoms Alexandra had. To state that her intervention in state affairs was due to "hysteria" and hormones etc is very much the view of an Edwardian/Victorian male, I feel! :-)

Best wishes

Janet
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Nobility on September 24, 2009, 06:33:31 PM
Hi Janet,

The extract from his book was quoted as being an opinion from one of the medical professors in Russia at the time , not so much Spiridovitchs' personal opinion.

However I do have the feeling, his Victorian male attitude was behind some of his observations, not just here but in a few places in his book.

He interestingly enough describes the nervous illness the Empress had in the same way as he describes that of his own wife, who although also afflicted with Cholera was admitted to a mental institution, he goes on to say that in those days, nervous illness as he describes it was not yet really recognised as the mental illness, that apparently it was.

It sounds a little like the opinions we hear to day regarding depression being now considered a form of mental sickness, the stigma around the word 'mental' being sadly seen as a person being a loony.

Maybe the Empress apart from the physical ailments, suffered severe depression, and frankly given the pressures of the times, I am not surprised

Nobility
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Janet Ashton on September 25, 2009, 12:13:00 PM
Hi Janet,

The extract from his book was quoted as being an opinion from one of the medical professors in Russia at the time , not so much Spiridovitchs' personal opinion.

However I do have the feeling, his Victorian male attitude was behind some of his observations, not just here but in a few places in his book.

He interestingly enough describes the nervous illness the Empress had in the same way as he describes that of his own wife, who although also afflicted with Cholera was admitted to a mental institution, he goes on to say that in those days, nervous illness as he describes it was not yet really recognised as the mental illness, that apparently it was.

It sounds a little like the opinions we hear to day regarding depression being now considered a form of mental sickness, the stigma around the word 'mental' being sadly seen as a person being a loony.

Maybe the Empress apart from the physical ailments, suffered severe depression, and frankly given the pressures of the times, I am not surprised

Nobility

I suspect Alexandra did suffer from depression (her mother and also her grandfather Prince Albert had a tendency that way, and I think her frequent weeping is a sign of this too) - and what you say of Spiridovich's wife is very interesting: he might almost have been reading his own situation into the imperial family's.....I wonder indeed which doctor discussed the Empress with him; it would appear to be rather a breach of the Hippocratic oath....!
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Nobility on September 25, 2009, 04:04:04 PM
Janet this is the precise extract:

 'This is what I was told by one of the famous Russian professors, who was well informed as to the health issues presenting the Empress.'

Unfortunately doesn't tell us much, I have the impression that under the guise of security Spiridovitch was allowed to have most information he asked for, he even tells of foreign specialists secretly visiting  while at Livadia being picked up at night so as not to draw attention of those in the court.

As you know she ended up only listening to her own palace doctor, who it is stated just gave her what she asked for. She apparently drank carrot juice , as she claimed it thinned her blood and she prayed a great deal, not greatly dissimilar to the way some of us deal with life and health issues today!
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: CountessKate on September 28, 2009, 07:24:17 AM
It's interesting that parts of her diet, such as drinking carrot juice, was thought at the time as 'faddy' and showed she was probably mentally not-quite-right, but is now considered very healthy and sensible.  In many ways health is as much a matter of fashion as anything else. 
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on September 28, 2009, 09:32:57 PM
It's interesting that parts of her diet, such as drinking carrot juice, was thought at the time as 'faddy' and showed she was probably mentally not-quite-right, but is now considered very healthy and sensible.  In many ways health is as much a matter of fashion as anything else. 

She was ahead of her time in more ways than one, that's for sure.  Imagine her as, say, a Raisa Gorbachev!  Or even Nancy Reagan or Michelle Obama!  What she could have accomplished as a "First Lady" in the 20th century!
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Clemence on January 10, 2010, 03:31:32 AM
Sorry if this was discussed elsewhere, but have you ever seen any kind of medical report on a possible sociophobic disturb of the empress
(or whatever they could call it in her times)?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Kalafrana on January 10, 2010, 06:25:00 AM
Going back to the original report, is there much information about Ella's health?

Incidentally, in Britain drinking carrot juice would be seen as mildly faddy (being a bit TOO dedicated to 'healthy eating')

Ann
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: RealAnastasia on January 10, 2010, 09:42:48 PM
Yes...Here, in Argentina too. I know some people who does it, but others says that these are people "too devoted to themselves". I think it's good not to have a too fatty diet or to drink too much wine or other liquors, but doing it with moderation and also eating a lot of vegetables and fruits could not harm anyone, unless he/she is previously ill.

RealAnastasia.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: PAVLOV on February 05, 2010, 07:07:07 AM
What has happened to the haemophilia gene ?
If it was passed on to most royal families in Europe by Queen Vivtoria and her children, surely it must still exist in the decendants today ?
If not, how did it die out, so to speak ? Has it just dissapeared ?

I hope someone has the answer, I have been trying to work it out.
The Spanish, German, Hesse and other families had it.
 
   
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Kalafrana on February 05, 2010, 07:37:32 AM
What has happened to the haemophilia gene ?

It seems to have 'bred out'.

A carrier female has a 50% chance of transmitting her haemophilia gene, and so a 50% chance of not transmitting it. If she has a son with the gene he will be a haemophiliac, if a daughter she will have the same 50% chance of passing the gene on each time she has a child.

A male haemophiliac will inevitably pass the gene on to any daughter he has, so that any daughter will be a carrier female, with the 50% chance of passing on the gene.

Someone will no doubt carrect me if I'm mistaken, but as far as I'm aware the only royal haemophiliac who fathered children was Leopold of Albany. His son, Charles Edward of Albany and Coburg, was unaffected. His daughter, Alice of Athlone was a carrier. Her elder son was haemophiliac, her younger son, who died at 6 months, may have been. However, her daughter, May Abel-Smith, was presumably one of the lucky 50%, as haemophilia has not appeared among her descendants.

For the sake of completeness, the royal haemophiliacs I know of are:

Leopold of Albany (son and daughter)
Friedrich of Hesse (died aged 3)
Leopold of Battenberg (lived to adulthood but no children)
Waldemar of Prussia (lived to 56, but no children)
Heinrich of Prussia jnr (died aged 4)
Alexei
Alfonso and Jaime of Spain (both died from car accidents as young adults, no children)
Maurice of Teck, Viscount Trematon (died from car accident aged 21, no children)

The mathematicians on the Forum will no doubt compute the odd, but the risk of passing on the gene haves in each generation from a carrier female, and if a woman is not a carrier and a man is not a haemophliac there is nothing to transmit.

The situation is different with porphyria, which can appear to skip generations because not everyone with the gene is badly affected.

I have read suggestions that a female-line descendant of Victoria of Milford Haven is haemophiliac, but know nothing definite.

Ann
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Grand Duchess Valeria on February 05, 2010, 07:47:12 AM
Sorry, I don't want to be fretful....but wasn't Alice the second and not the fourth daughter of Victoria? I just wonder if I learned it wrong... ;)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on February 05, 2010, 08:51:31 AM
Sorry, I don't want to be fretful....but wasn't Alice the second and not the fourth daughter of Victoria? I just wonder if I learned it wrong... ;)

You're right - she was the second daughter.  Third child.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Margot on February 05, 2010, 01:18:35 PM
Very interesting Ann!

I also heard that there is a persistent rumour that one of Ena's daughters may have been a carrier and passed haemophilia on! With regards to Victoria MH being a carrier.....Wow I have never heard that one before! It seems amazing that Alice could have been a carrier and for it to have been kept quiet! Perhaps Louise was,yet her stillborn child was a girl wasn't it? Not that this really makes any difference?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Kalafrana on February 05, 2010, 02:20:23 PM
Neither of Victoria MH's sons was haemophiliac. If her daughter Alice was a carrier, then statistically at least one of her own daughters should have been a carrier. The Duke of Edinburgh is certainly not a haemophiliac!

It is genetically possible that the gene would pass exclusively from female to female through several generations of one family, but a bit unlikely in reality.

The suggestion of a living royal haemophiliac is somewhere on the Royal Forums - a prince of Leiningen if I remember correctly. I will try to track it down over the weekend.

Ann
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: darlene fogg on March 06, 2010, 01:09:49 PM
in old movies of the royal family, you will notice that alexandra walks fast and that her head is always bobbing. i just read where due to an illness that she had, her neck muscles werent strong enough to hold up her head thus the constant bobbing. she must have had a brace as well.  if anyone has any additional information on this, i would greatly appreciate hearing about it. i cant remember what the disease was called but i think it was quite common in those days
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on March 06, 2010, 01:18:36 PM
in old movies of the royal family, you will notice that alexandra walks fast and that her head is always bobbing. i just read where due to an illness that she had, her neck muscles werent strong enough to hold up her head thus the constant bobbing. she must have had a brace as well.  if anyone has any additional information on this, i would greatly appreciate hearing about it. i cant remember what the disease was called but i think it was quite common in those days
I am no expert on neither Alexandra's health nor old movie technology, but my guess is that it's due to her constantly acknowledging the greetings of loyal subjects by bowing - and the speed of really old movies always being faster than real-time.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: RealAnastasia on March 06, 2010, 10:15:41 PM
Yes...That's the fact. She was always acknowledging while walking. It was her duty. The movements of her body are not from any illness, but they would come from her Empress condition.  ;D

RealAnastasia.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Margot on March 06, 2010, 10:48:12 PM
I must admit I tend to agree with Fyodor P and RealAnastasia here! I always assumed that Alexandra F was merely inclining her head in a gesture of acknowledgement to the throngs in footage I have seen! I admit that she is one of the few Royal personages of that era who did seem to do the head bowing thing quite a lot more noticeably than others though!

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on March 06, 2010, 10:52:06 PM
I must admit I tend to agree with Fyodor P and RealAnastasia here! I always assumed that Alexandra F was merely inclining her head in a gesture of acknowledgement to the throngs in footage I have seen! I admit that she is one of the few Royal personages of that era who did seem to do the head bowing thing quite a lot more noticeably than others though!



If she didn't, she would have been accused of not acknowledging her subjects...
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on March 07, 2010, 12:31:28 AM
It is not the old film that makes everyone look strange.  It is the speed of the old projectors as opposed to the speed of our modern ones.  The film runs faster through the modern projectors and that makes everyone look like they are Charlie Chaplin.

Some old projectors were hand cranked and so the speeds could be very slow.

I like the thought that bobbing her head was caused by her Empress condition  :-)

But as far as I know with all of the conditions that Alexandra claimed to have, a neck condition was not one of them.  Hmmm - I wonder if she every thought of it though as a way to get out of her royal duties?  She is said to have hated them so much.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on March 07, 2010, 10:20:53 AM
It is not the old film that makes everyone look strange.  It is the speed of the old projectors as opposed to the speed of our modern ones.  The film runs faster through the modern projectors and that makes everyone look like they are Charlie Chaplin.
Some old projectors were hand cranked and so the speeds could be very slow.
Ah, interesting, I didn't know!

in old movies of the royal family
You will be thrilled to know that they were no ordinary royals, but Императорская фамилия, the Imperial Family! :-)

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: rosieposie on March 07, 2010, 06:09:58 PM
I agree,  although it is her verison of acknowledging people kind of the way Queen Liz uses her signature handwave.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: darlene fogg on March 07, 2010, 07:33:50 PM
Fyodor Petrovich , i was told that your words are very offensive shame on you. remember that these royals were offensive to the majority of not just the russiians but the majority of the world. they were self absorbed and unsensitive to most russians and their state. you live in a dream world and need some reality therapy
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on March 07, 2010, 07:54:32 PM
Lol, I feel I have passed a NAOTMAA initiation rite! For the first time, after 274 posts, irreverent little me who was a communist in my early teens is called a Romanov apologist! ***Does a Chukchi celebration dance***

Fyodor Petrovich , i was told that your words are very offensive shame on you. remember that these royals were offensive to the majority of not just the russiians but the majority of the world. they were self absorbed and unsensitive to most russians and their state. you live in a dream world and need some reality therapy
If you had read all my posts you would have seen that in,  this thread: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich? (http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=9095.msg422380#msg422380) I argue that had I been their Bolshevik judge, I would have condemned the whole family to live as their peasant or proletarian subjects, i.e. lifelong forced labour!

I agree that it's important to keep in mind that as touching as their home life may have been, it's important to keep in mind that these people were reviled both at home and abroad.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: RealAnastasia on March 07, 2010, 09:34:33 PM
Fyodor Petrovich , i was told that your words are very offensive shame on you. remember that these royals were offensive to the majority of not just the russiians but the majority of the world. they were self absorbed and unsensitive to most russians and their state. you live in a dream world and need some reality therapy

I think that it is you who are being impolite. I'm for one, I DO LIKE the Imperial Family. I've my right to do so. And of course, you may not like them and have your own right to dislike everyone you wants. But you have no right to use ruda and rough words to speak of people who is now dead. Many nobility , Royals and Imperials were (and are) self-centered, unsensitivy and even bad in the row sense of this word, but not all of them. And certainly not every person of the world disliked them, I'm asure you. Some people loved Royals quite a lot. Maybe today propaganda says it was not this way, but believe me, it was.

My granny always remembered how much her Spanish own granny cried her eyes out when she knew that "those bad revolutionnaries" had chased King Alfonso XIII from his throne. He was loved by her, and by a lot of people like her, as if he was their  father, the father of the nation....And yes, go on and now call my poor great -great granny a poor ignorant...

RealAnastasia.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Margot on March 07, 2010, 10:12:11 PM
Darlene Fogg

I am rather surprised that you have taken such an aggressive tone with a member here on this thread! I wonder why you would respond so negatively when Fyodor Petrovich did nothing to actively provoke such a response!

It is most telling when one reads through this thread which you opened relating to the topic of a purported illness that Empress Alexandra Feodorovna may have suffered from, but which no posters who have contributed replies here has ever heard of! I find that in itself rather interesting!

 I was surprised and a little curious when I read you response to Fyodor Petrovich in which you started to berate him personally and then launched into an attack upon the Imperial family in a way that is frankly completely off topic! Then you accused a fellow poster of living in a dream world! I must say that such actions are not particularly friendly or positive when we have all tried to answer you question as best we can! You have also started another thread about the flowers being delivered from the Crimea during the war which in itself is a most unusual topic, pertinent I accept but the way in which you have responded on that thread with rather zealous overtones leaves one a little perplexed and suspicious of you true intentions here!

We all like to discuss these topics but when we disagree we tend to try not to appear or sound aggressive. Personal opinions are quite acceptable but provocative and frankly belligerent posts are not! Just a piece of friendly advice Darelene Fogg! After all I am sure you wouldn't want forum members to start thinking you may be a troll!

I may be quite wrong and if so I apologize! I am sure a Mod will intercede if they feel it is required! Anyway shall we continue with the topic of Alexandra's illnesses....I for one am very surprised that no one had created such a thread before, as I am sure it could run to countless pages!!!!!!

 
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on March 07, 2010, 10:21:53 PM
It is most telling when one reads through this thread which you opened relating to the topic of a purported illness that Empress Alexandra Feodorovna may have suffered from, but which no posters who have contributed replies here has ever heard of! I find that in itself rather interesting!
Yeah, weak neck muscles was such a common illness in the 18th and 19th centuries, wasn't it? I am sure that's what Marie Antoinette died of. Her poor neck simply gave in....
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Belochka on March 07, 2010, 10:38:47 PM

Fyodor Petrovich , i was told that your words are very offensive shame on you. . remember that these royals were offensive to the majority of not just the russiians but the majority of the world. they were self absorbed and unsensitive to most russians and their state. you live in a dream world and need some reality therapy

The seemingly flippant nature of your remarks might amuse you but I personally find them impudent.

Your poorly structured approach leaves little more to be said.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Kalafrana on March 08, 2010, 07:21:07 AM
To be serious, given that Alexandra seems to have combined near-daily headaches with frequent dental troubles, could one of her ailments be tempero-mandibular joint syndrome and associated tooth-grinding in her sleep? From experience I know that this can produce very severe headaches which resist all normal painkillers. however, the problem can be dealt with by wearing a thing like a boxer's gumshield at night, and osteopathy and chiropractic also help. It tends to be stress-related (after changing jobs I was able to give up the gumshield). Difficulty in opening your mouth and loud creaking noises when doing so are typical (essentially, all your facial muscles go into spasm).

Alexandra should have abandoned Rasputin, found an osteopath and a better dentist!

Ann
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: rosieposie on March 08, 2010, 07:35:40 AM
Hey Ann,

That is a very good possiblity, could explain why her mouth always seemed pursed, like it was in pain in photographs.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Kalafrana on March 08, 2010, 07:43:24 AM
Rather a pity that nobody seems to have thought of it at the time.

The gumshield is a simple solution, and if it doesn't work it doesn't do any harm.

Ann
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on March 08, 2010, 08:34:26 AM
To be serious, given that Alexandra seems to have combined near-daily headaches with frequent dental troubles, could one of her ailments be tempero-mandibular joint syndrome and associated tooth-grinding in her sleep? From experience I know that this can produce very severe headaches which resist all normal painkillers. however, the problem can be dealt with by wearing a thing like a boxer's gumshield at night, and osteopathy and chiropractic also help. It tends to be stress-related (after changing jobs I was able to give up the gumshield). Difficulty in opening your mouth and loud creaking noises when doing so are typical (essentially, all your facial muscles go into spasm).

Alexandra should have abandoned Rasputin, found an osteopath and a better dentist!

Ann

It all boils down to stress.  She suffered much because, I am convinced, of the level of stress.  Whether or not she brought it on herself is a different argument altogether - the point is, the woman was stressed right out, and that was most likely the base cause of a lot of, if not all of, her health problems. 
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: grandduchessella on March 08, 2010, 12:16:15 PM
2 issues:

1) Does anyone who speaks Russian know what  Императорская фамилия means? This was the phrase that started the posting about being offensive. I don't speak Russian so I can't comment. If it something very vulgar or profane, then it will be removed as per the stated standards of the Forum. If it is something subjectively offensive, depending on the severity, it will remain. Can anyone help here?

2) There are numerous threads about Alexandra's health. Please look before starting a new one as it makes maintaining the Forum very difficult. I have merged 5 threads all dealing with health & illnesses into one.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on March 08, 2010, 12:47:25 PM
1) Does anyone who speaks Russian know what  Императорская фамилия means? This was the phrase that started the posting about being offensive. I don't speak Russian so I can't comment. If it something very vulgar or profane, then it will be removed as per the stated standards of the Forum. If it is something subjectively offensive, depending on the severity, it will remain. Can anyone help here?
LOL!
Императорская фамилия = Imperatorskaya familiya = the Imperial Family! (Just Google Image it and you'll see that it's not exactly filthy, unless you count the Imperial Family of Japan, Rasputin, the Romanov arms, the Royal Martyrs, the Winter Palace and Grand Duchesses Maria Vladimirovna and Ella as filthy!)
It's offensive to the presumed complainer Darlene Fogg, because she hates the Romanovs.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on March 08, 2010, 02:54:13 PM
It looks like all of the moderators are getting the same complaints.

I forwarded my bunch to FA.  I believe that he reads Russian and will straighten this all out.

In the meantime, could we please all stop making unpleasant comments and remarks to one another?

If this keeps up, the modertors will have as much stress as Alexandra did, maybe more!
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: grandduchessella on March 08, 2010, 02:57:42 PM
Ah, well then that clears that up.  :) I received a note as a mod to look into it but, as I said, I don't read Russian.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Forum Admin on March 08, 2010, 03:13:23 PM
2 issues:

1) Does anyone who speaks Russian know what  Императорская фамилия means? This was the phrase that started the posting about being offensive. I don't speak Russian so I can't comment. If it something very vulgar or profane, then it will be removed as per the stated standards of the Forum. If it is something subjectively offensive, depending on the severity, it will remain. Can anyone help here?

2) There are numerous threads about Alexandra's health. Please look before starting a new one as it makes maintaining the Forum very difficult. I have merged 5 threads all dealing with health & illnesses into one.

Императорская фамилия reads: "Imperatorskaya Familia" or the Imperial Family. Surely this is some sort of stupid prank??

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: rosieposie on March 08, 2010, 05:07:09 PM
FA it was a genuine question,  not some prank.  Some people don't read or know much of  cyrillic.   It's like me who can't read Kenji because I don't understand it  Even though I have a lot of Japanese Doujinshis.

Back on health,  yes I think the gum guard would have helped her.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on March 08, 2010, 05:37:49 PM
I am probably just cranky, but I think that Alexandra could have been helped by a good psychiatrist.  Too bad the science wasn't invented in her time.

Well, it was, but it was new and she didn't know Freud.

But then she liked to believe in false prophets and soothsayers so she probably wouldn't have been interested in Freud anyway.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on March 08, 2010, 05:55:33 PM
FA it was a genuine question,  not some prank.  Some people don't read or know much of  cyrillic.

The post said:
in old movies of the royal family

You will be thrilled to know that they were no ordinary royals, but Императорская фамилия, the Imperial Family! :-)
If that's not a complimentarily provided translation I don't know what is.

And of course I didn't nitpick on Darlene Fogg's post just to be pedantic, but because her posts about the Imperial Family were impertinent and badly researched.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: rosieposie on March 08, 2010, 06:05:31 PM
I am probably just cranky, but I think that Alexandra could have been helped by a good psychiatrist.  Too bad the science wasn't invented in her time.

Well, it was, but it was new and she didn't know Freud.

But then she liked to believe in false prophets and soothsayers so she probably wouldn't have been interested in Freud anyway.

So perhaps your saying she might have had manic depression? Could be.  I know a few people with mental health issues go to clairvoyants and psychics wanting someone to talk to in the hopes of the reader telling them that the person was fine etc.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Kalafrana on March 09, 2010, 03:31:26 AM
People with vague and chronic ailments quite frequently turn to what is now called alternative medicine. Some of it is perfectly good and valid stuff (I started going to a chiropractor because of headaches associated with a stiff neck and creaking jaw, and found a big improvement). Some of it is distinctly cranky. Unfortunately, in my view, Alexandra tended towards the cranky end.

Ann
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: PAVLOV on March 09, 2010, 06:17:56 AM
She was seriously depressed, chronically. The worst thing one can do is lock yourself up in a room, as she did. Going out and doing things, meeting people,  helps enormously.
To think of all those beautiful gardens, the trees and the lakes . She could have gone for wonderful walks. The exercise would have helped I am sure. She used to go for walks, but she stopped. I think probably because many of her "illnesses" were convenient excuses to hide in her ugly cluttered mauve room behind a screen.   
But of course when one is seriously depressed you don't feel like doing anything at all, and many people do exactly what she did. Hide from the world in a safe place where you don't have to do anything.
I am still convinced that there was very little wrong with her. A serious case of hypochondria despite what everyone says.

 
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Grand Duchess Valeria on March 09, 2010, 06:43:33 AM
I am still convinced that there was very little wrong with her. A serious case of hypochondria despite what everyone says. 


I agree with you. There is also one symptom of depressions called panik attacks which my sister has. Nothing is wrong with her heart, its completely healthy but she always suggests it herself and gets heartaching than. Placebo-effect...

Does anybody know if Alexandra had postpartum depressions?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: PAVLOV on March 09, 2010, 06:55:23 AM
She definitely had panic attacks, and many people who have them are convinced they are having a heart attack. The symptoms are virtually the same.  I think she was confusing her panic attacks with a weak heart. If one reads the diaries of President Poincare, and many others, she very often had attacks during state dinners, at the Opera ( Meriel Buchanan) and could not bear loud noises.
I dont buy the "enlarged heart" story. How could they diagnose a medical condition like this in those days ?

Her husband must really have loved her, I could not imagine having to put up with all of this, and have the stresses of being in control of the largest country in the world as well.
No wonder the poor man just gave up in the end.

 
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: rosieposie on March 09, 2010, 07:00:50 AM
Yeah he did love her very much despite her health "issues".    Oh yes I think going for walks does wonders even though she had bad legs you would have thought commonsense that she would at least go for small walks instead of relying on being in a cart with the children walking beside her. 

Makes me think she lost a lot of muscle tone in her legs from little use.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on March 09, 2010, 08:25:23 AM
But she followed the medical advice of the day.  We recognize now the need for exercise and fresh air to maintain one's physical and mental wellbeing, but at that time, rest indoors was the order of the day. 

Believe me, people don't "choose" to isolate themselves in pain and anxiety all day, every day.  And she didn't either.  She did what she thought she could handle.  She had Nicholas, her daughters, and her doctor all telling her not to overdo it, not to overtire herself.

She was also afraid of being a burden on Nicholas, and her daughters - her letters indicate that.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Justine on March 09, 2010, 09:23:04 AM
She was seriously depressed, chronically. The worst thing one can do is lock yourself up in a room, as she did. Going out and doing things, meeting people,  helps enormously.

I disagree with you here. it perhaps helps people who aren't shy-but Alexandra was very, very shy, and if you feel depressed and you're shy going out and meeting people is awfully scaring & you simply can't handle that(and I can speak so from my own expierience). of course it's not good to lock oneself up in a room, but sometimes one isn't strong enough to bear one's problems & you want to do the easy thing.

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Forum Admin on March 09, 2010, 09:41:44 AM
FA it was a genuine question,  not some prank.  Some people don't read or know much of  cyrillic.   It's like me who can't read Kenji because I don't understand it  Even though I have a lot of Japanese Doujinshis.

Back on health,  yes I think the gum guard would have helped her.

Lord,

I did not mean the QUESTION was a prank....I meant whoever "told her" it was something filthy was having a joke...
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Kalafrana on March 09, 2010, 10:12:25 AM
Even though 'rest' was very much in vogue in Alexandra's day, fresh air was also very much the thing, at least in Britain, so sitting outside in the fresh air was frequently prescribed, along with going away to milder climates where one could sit outside in  winter.

I quite accept that when in the grip of depression the temptation is to hide yourself away, but there comes a point when one has to steel oneself and make an effort to stop doing that. Alexandra, for all her protestations that she did not want to burden her husband and daughters, did burden them - all the business of one of the girls being constantly with her, for example. There is a theory that there comes a point when family patience etc becomes counter-productive, because it allows the afflicted individual person to carry on doing what they are doing with absolutely no incentive to help themselves. This is most obviously applicable to alcoholics (who quite often have endlessly patient wives or husbands who prevent them from having to face up to the consequences of their actions). It is called co-dependency, I think.

Ann
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: rosieposie on March 09, 2010, 01:15:14 PM
Lord,

I did not mean the QUESTION was a prank....I meant whoever "told her" it was something filthy was having a joke...

Ah,  oops.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Margot on March 09, 2010, 02:53:22 PM
Sarushka has done some marvelous research into Alexandra's health! She posted entries from diaries on Griff's divine Empress Fights Back part 5 thread!

Here is a just one post of entires that highlights just how extraordinarily fragile Alexandra F appears to have been!

http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=14561.msg411173;topicseen#msg411173

In fact you will find later that Alexandra F spends a great deal of time laid up too!

Ann has made a good point about Alexandra burdening others with her 'ailments'. Lying around in 'Nicky's room' is not exactly considerate IMHO!

I know she did the lying around in 1917 when they were in captivity which must have made a difference, but the 1913 entries give a fascinating insight into Alexandra F's seeming obsession with her health! I do wonder if she wasn't a classic example of an Hypochondriac!


 
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Janet Ashton on March 09, 2010, 03:32:45 PM


Well, it was, but it was new and she didn't know Freud.

But then she liked to believe in false prophets and soothsayers so she probably wouldn't have been interested in Freud anyway.

Oh yes, Freud, the man who wrote about penis envy and the Oedipus complex. Such an uncontroversial figure.

Indeed, it was the era of Freud and Jung, of Conan Doyle and Alexandra David-Neel; of Madame Blavatsky and the Golden Dawn; of Rudolf Steiner and W. B Yeats; of Francis Younghusband and the theosophical Society.....why would anyone be taken in by a "false prophet" when it was all so obvious who was the right and sane person to follow?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Janet Ashton on March 09, 2010, 03:51:57 PM
Even though 'rest' was very much in vogue in Alexandra's day, fresh air was also very much the thing, at least in Britain, so sitting outside in the fresh air was frequently prescribed, along with going away to milder climates where one could sit outside in  winter.


[post deleted]. Can't be arguing with anyone over this and going round and round; I've said what I had to say before on this topic....Just wish the threads were a little more open to different possibilities and not so focussed on how everything was all in her mind and what a saint Nicholas was to put up withi t....:-(
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: LisaDavidson on March 09, 2010, 08:05:51 PM
Discussions - online and otherwise - can be prone to "groupthink" where people go around agreeing with one another and then there is no real discussion, just the groupthinik. This happened several times to Bob and I in the days before the Forum, when we tried doing "chats" - people would start agreeing with one person and the discussion lost interest for me. I don't know how many times I said - Muffy, I really don't care to listen to you if all you have to say is " I agree with so and so.

The ony things that have worked for me are starting a new (more focused) question/topic and/or inviting humanoids with actual opinions to join in.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Carisbrooke on March 10, 2010, 07:12:24 AM
   Getting back to Freud I don't believe he ever met the Tsaritsa, but they did meet in Carolly Ericksons "The Tsarina's Daughter", where he declares her to be as mad as a hatter. I would like to think if they had ever met, it would have been difficult to tell who was doing the psychoanalysing.
   In reality I think it would have gone something like this.

  The Tsaritsa -          "Tell me Mr Freud are you fond of greek tragedy, & do you like my BIG yacht. 


        Yes,...... Alix would have sorted him out.   
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Kalafrana on March 10, 2010, 08:23:48 AM
On a slightly different tack, what was Alexandra's health like before her marriage? Much is made of the stress she was under as a result of being Empress, plus the physical affects of producing five alarmingly large babies in fairly quick succession.

I have an idea that she was never all that robust, and that she spent part of the famous trip to England in 1894 taking the waters at Harrogate and in a wheelchair.

Ann
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Janet Ashton on March 10, 2010, 12:53:32 PM
Discussions - online and otherwise - can be prone to "groupthink" where people go around agreeing with one another and then there is no real discussion, just the groupthinik. This happened several times to Bob and I in the days before the Forum, when we tried doing "chats" - people would start agreeing with one person and the discussion lost interest for me.

Yes, very true; as I say, I do think the tone in relation to Alexandra has gone from one of almost alarming deference (back in the early days of the forum) to judgmental sarcasm about her "illnesses" and what she "should" have done instead.

It's interesting to see that Maria Feodorovna reached the point of emotional collapse after Biorki, and was widely believed to be under the care of a psychiatrist; Nicholas II was almost catatonic by 1917, and both the Kaiser and his wife were under such strain in their public lives that it put their marriage at risk for years at a time and drove their suite to distraction. It is all too easy to see Alexandra as abnormal in her reactions; but if there is some particular merit in Nicholas it lies in his recognition of the fact that perhaps it was the life he asked her to share which was responsible for her health, not least because of the repeated pregnancies in quest of a son who turned out to be physically delicate, but who, married to another man, she might not even have needed to give birth to, thereby sparing herself much emotional strain.

That's the way I see it anyway; any "hysterical woman; poor old patient hubby" talk always set me off...:-)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on March 10, 2010, 01:04:39 PM
Remember that the father determines the sex of the child.  Perhaps married to someone else, Alexandra would have have 4 sons and 1 daughter.

Perhaps some of the sons would have been healthy.

Who could ever know?

I guess that I just get tired of all the excuses that are made for Alexandra and her "illnesses".  I am the opposite of some other posters.
 
I suppose that she was just following the medical advice of the day, but to me, this granddaughter of Queen Victoria was a"weak" offspring.  I wonder if both the Prince of Wales and Victoria ever were glad that Alix turned down Prince Eddy.

As to Alexandra asking Freud what he thought about her "big Yacht" - I'll bet that would have gone right to penis envy.  No straightening him out at all, just verification that she truly wanted to be "wifey with the invisible trousers" as she herself said.

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on March 10, 2010, 01:54:39 PM
Here is another thought about Alix and Prince Eddy.

Eddy asked Alix to marry him in 1889.  Had she done so within a year or so as was the custom.  She would have been his wife in 1892 when he died.

She would not have been available to marry Nicholas in 1894.

What do the Brits do with the widow of the son of the Prince of Wales who would be next in line to the throne?

As his widow, she might have already had her first child in the two years that they would have had together or maybe not, but as Eddy died and then George took his place as "next in line" I wonder if they would have pushed Alix on him as they did May of Tek?

It is correct to push a widow onto the heir presumptive as it was correct to push the former fiance?

Interesting "what if"!
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Kalafrana on March 10, 2010, 02:11:10 PM
If Alexandra had married Eddy, there would have been just as strong a possibility of her producing a haemophiliac heir as there was when she married Nicholas.

There have been three widowed Princesses of Wales in all. The first was Joan of Kent, widow of the Black Prince, who became mother of the reigning king little more than a year after her husband's death. The second was Katharine of Aragon, who married Arthur, Prince of Wales, and then Henry VIII. The third was Augusta, widow of Frederick, Prince of Wales, who died in 1751 and was the father of George III.

Joan was already a widow when she married the Black Prince (she actually had quite an interesting marital history), and I think all her brothers-in-law were already married - will check.

Frederick and Augusta had no fewer than nine children, the last born posthumously.

Regards


Ann
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Margot on March 10, 2010, 03:07:53 PM
Alixz pertaining to your interesting 'What if' about what to do with a widowed Alix, Duchess of Clarence! If in 1892 she had become widowed, she would have been forbidden to marry George, because as at the time the law prohibited marriages between a man and his deceased brother's wife (This law was repealed in 1921).  It would have been a very difficult position to have been in. I wonder if Henry VIII insisted on creating the law after the mess he caused over his marriage to Catherine of Aragon!?

Had Alix been childless, then she could have married again without many constraints, but had she had a child who would have then been second in line, her position would have been less than enviable. Possible British based second husbands would probably have baulked at the restrictions marriage to the mother of the future monarch entailed, unless they were already a member of the Royal Faminly. The only candidates I can think of who would probably have been seen as ideal 'step father' material for an heir during the early nineties due to their status, age and background would have been Christian Victor and Albert of Schleswig Holstein.

The alternative of a second marriage to a foreigner would also have probably appeared a near impossible idea to achieve at the time, unless said suitor was prepared to be thoroughly and thereafter constantly vetted and been prepared to move permanently to England for the duration of said step child's minority. In such a 'What if' situation a widowed Alix would have found herself so tied to the upbringing of a child and maintaining her prerogatives as a mother as to probably feel obliged to remain a widow at least until a child reached eighteen, and then she would have been more free in her choices once again.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Janet Ashton on March 10, 2010, 03:11:34 PM

I guess that I just get tired of all the excuses that are made for Alexandra and her "illnesses". 


Well, no-one can be in a position to makes "excuses" for Alexandra and "illnesses" because no-one here can know what was wrong with her. All they can do is theorise and discuss.


As to Alexandra asking Freud what he thought about her "big Yacht" - I'll bet that would have gone right to penis envy.  No straightening him out at all, just verification that she truly wanted to be "wifey with the invisible trousers" as she herself said.



:-D    Even without recourse to his own phallocentric lights, surely Freud was aware that the Yacht was Nicholas's? :-) And if he wanted an imperial couple to analyse through his particular sexualised world view, he had no need to go as far as petersburg; he need look no further afield than the Hofburg, where a lady sat stitched into her riding habit with long leather boots below. Her kids would have given him hours of fun too, though I doubt he could have got Franz Josef onto the couch.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: RealAnastasia on March 10, 2010, 05:41:27 PM

I guess that I just get tired of all the excuses that are made for Alexandra and her "illnesses". 


Well, no-one can be in a position to makes "excuses" for Alexandra and "illnesses" because no-one here can know what was wrong with her. All they can do is theorise and discuss.


As to Alexandra asking Freud what he thought about her "big Yacht" - I'll bet that would have gone right to penis envy.  No straightening him out at all, just verification that she truly wanted to be "wifey with the invisible trousers" as she herself said.



:-D    Even without recourse to his own phallocentric lights, surely Freud was aware that the Yacht was Nicholas's? :-) And if he wanted an imperial couple to analyse through his particular sexualised world view, he had no need to go as far as petersburg; he need look no further afield than the Hofburg, where a lady sat stitched into her riding habit with long leather boots below. Her kids would have given him hours of fun too, though I doubt he could have got Franz Josef onto the couch.

I admire you,I'm such a coward! I had all this to say and wouldn't dare to do so. I was afarid of bieng banned. But you share totally my point of view and I'm happy you are more corageous than me to attack all those false prophetes of our time. Congrats to that. As I've said above, I had not the courage to write the things you did, for I was afraid of being banned. But now, that I've read your message I'm ready to support you entirely. If you are courageous I'm the duty to be so.

RealAnastasia.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on March 11, 2010, 08:32:26 AM
Janet - You are so right about the Hapsburgs.  :-)
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Kalafrana on March 11, 2010, 08:45:02 AM
Franz Josef would have told Dr Freud that he was behind with his paperwork!

Actually, I think Franz Josef was a sensible down-to-earth chap who had no particular need for Freud. Admittedly, he married the wrong woman, but that is a different thing.

Ann
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: RealAnastasia on March 11, 2010, 06:25:16 PM
I agree, Kalafrana...We are guilt of some things that happens to us, but we don't choice the circumstances under we must live. Franz Josef was in love with Sisi, but they were too much differenty to go along together.

RealAnastasia.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: amartin71718 on September 17, 2010, 08:56:49 PM
Question: Was Alexandra still taking Veronal while in Ekaterainburg?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: LeahMayhem on September 25, 2010, 02:58:18 PM
I did a search and found that diabetes has already been suggested as a possible cause of Alexandra's illness(es), but the only reason I saw anyone name for this suspicion was the size of her children at birth. I too wonder if she might not have been diabetic, for this and a few other reasons. I myself am diabetic and have done a lot of research into the disease since being diagnosed in April of this year.

Here are some of the reasons I think that Alexandra may have suffered from complications due to an undiagnosed and untreated case of diabetes.

1) Leg problems--This is the main reason for my suspicions that she may have been an undiagnosed diabetic. One of the biggest complications of diabetes is neuropathy - nerve damage due to the degeneration of the blood vessels which nourish the nerves. This can lead to loss of function in certain body parts. In diabetics, the feet and legs are most often affected because they are the last place in the body to receive blood.

2) Vision problems--Diabetics are at high risk for retinopathy (the same concept as neuropathy, but applied to the retinas), glaucoma, and cataracts. Diabetics are generally urged to have their eyes checked at least once a year for these reasons, and even diabetics who don't have serious eye problems generally experience some change in their eyesight.

3) Heart problems--We know that Alexandra frequently complained of problems with her heart. While I'm aware that there's debate as to whether or not she really had these issues, I'd like to point out that heart disease is also a possible complication of diabetes.

Of course, all of this is merely speculation based on research I've done, my own experiences, and those of my father, who is also diabetic. But then again, this entire thread is just speculation since we'll never really know.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Grand Duchess Valeria on September 26, 2010, 09:20:30 AM
I thought hemophiliae were the cause of  size of the children at birth. ?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Clemence on October 10, 2010, 11:53:27 AM
@ LeahMayhem you make an excellent point about diabetes, although I'd think Alix was too young to have developed all these complications it's true that if mistreated - which would be the case here - it could have caused all these problems. how very interesting!

do we know if any relatives of alix, or herparents/ siblings developed diabetes at some point of their lives, perhaps?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: TimM on October 10, 2010, 08:22:03 PM
Interesting idea, as I too have diabetes (Type 1).  If she did have it, Alix was in trouble, because insulin was not developed until the 1920's.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on October 11, 2010, 09:02:47 AM
How young is too young?  Alix was 46 when she died.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Clemence on October 11, 2010, 10:45:23 AM
well, she was middle age by the standards of her times, but her health problems started some years before ... I believe pregnancies in such a sort time one from the other and the all the stress she had did the job.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Justine on October 27, 2010, 03:43:06 AM
I've been wondering lately(and I'm sorry if this has already been asked-I didn't manage to go through the entire thread) whether Alexandra's heart problems could have been caused by the diphtheria, from which she suffered in 1878. could this be that the toxin damaged the heart which lead to such troubles in later years?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: violetta on October 27, 2010, 04:58:35 AM
@ LeahMayhem you make an excellent point about diabetes, although I'd think Alix was too young to have developed all these complications it's true that if mistreated - which would be the case here - it could have caused all these problems. how very interesting!

do we know if any relatives of alix, or herparents/ siblings developed diabetes at some point of their lives, perhaps?



if diabetes is not diagnosed and not treated one`s body is ruined very fast. i personally had an acquantance who died at 32 as a result of diabetes complications.she had no idea that she suffered from this disease and by the time it was found out it was too late to save her.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Kalafrana on October 27, 2010, 05:05:57 AM
It was rheumatic fever rather than diphtheria which was well known for causing heart problems - for this reason patients were subjected to weeks of absolute bed rest. An aunt of mine born in 1914 had dud heart valves from rheumatic fever as a girl, though she lived a pretty active life and lasted until she was 76. She was a bit of a creaking gate but certainly not invalidish like Alexandra.

But I will check my 1911 manual for Royal Navy sick berth attendants to see whether it has anything to say about heart trouble arising from diphtheria.

Ann
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Justine on October 27, 2010, 09:11:34 AM
as far as I know the toxin in diphteria affects the heart & kidneys(if I remeber correctly)-which makes the illness dangerous. from what I've read patients with diphteria may suffer from heart failure. I've been wondering whether it may have caused some permanent damage.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Kalafrana on October 27, 2010, 09:25:25 AM
A quick look at wikpedia (not the most authoritative source, I know) suggests that diphtheria may cause heart and kidney failure, but doesn't indicate (on my reading anyway) that there can be permanent damage. The section on rheumatic fever does, by contrast, refer quite expressly to permanent damage to the heart valves. Ultimately, I don't know, but will see what my 1911 book has to say on the subject.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Justine on October 27, 2010, 09:53:05 AM
I'm waiting for your response then :)
I do know that rheumatic fever cause permanent damage to the heart-having it myself, but considering how many illnesses may cause permanent damage(even influenza-it's complications though; still, it's not considered very dangerous) that I started to think that maybe that was the reason of Alexandra's problems(or at least some of them). alas, having no medical training I can only speculate & wait for answer...
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Kalafrana on October 28, 2010, 03:18:47 AM
My sick berth attendant book has a lot to say about the possibility of permanent heart trouble arising from rheumatic fever, but not diphtheria.

Some years ago my mother developed heart trouble in her early 70s, and the consultant asked her whether she had had rheumatic fever. She did say that she had had diphtheria and scarlet fever, at the same time, but the consultant was more interested in the possibility that she might have had rheumatic fever without anybody recognsing it.

Ann
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: TimM on October 28, 2010, 12:32:02 PM
Poor Alix, her health had been bad for years, and it kept her inside a lot.  That is one reason the Russian people didn't like her, they didn't know she was sick.  They thought she was some stuck-up snob who didn't want anything to do with them.  The woman could not catch a break.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on October 28, 2010, 01:41:27 PM
Of course she could have let someone know that she was ill.  I believe that the Russian people would have understood.  They were not monsters and I would believe that they would have had sympathy for the Empress and also for Alexei had they known what was happening.

At least the mystery of Rasputin would have been put to rest had the people known why Alexandra was so dependant on him.  I know that the whole mess was kept under wraps so that there would be no worry about the succession and the future of the dynasty.  However, letting the people know that there was a good reason for all of the worry instead of letting rumors fly might have made a difference.

I honestly don't know what was wrong with Alexandra.  She basically told the doctors what she had and they had no way of convincing her otherwise.  She was an Empress and her word was not to be questioned.

I don't like her much, but I think I understand her position.  I would go with depression and exhaustion and panic disorder and anxiety disorder.  She was married to one of the most powerful men of her time, but no one could hep her have a son (except for Nicholas and back then I think they still believed that it was the wife's fault when all of the children were daughters) and when she finally had that son, no one could help her to find a cure for his illness.

That along with her inability to react well in pubic and to deal with public functions made her a very unsympathetic figure to those around her and to those who only got their news from the rumor mills.

I think that her decision to renounce all public appearances and to retreat to the Alexander Palace was a way of protecting herself from all of the hurt she suffered at the hands of others and that she must have heaped upon herself.

She smoked and took drugs (which were legal and even if they weren't they would have been legal to her).  She worried and panicked and chastised herself for not producing an heir.   In plain American English - she beat herself up.

Even though religion is supposed to be a place to find succor and peace, she became almost addicted to it.  As Massie says in his book, she became more Orthodox than those who were born to it.  Many converts do that and she may have been more susceptible because she had thought that religion was not something that one should change lightly.  She may have felt that she was being punished for choosing Nicholas over her Lutheran faith.

Was she truly sick?  Was there something actually physically wrong with her?  Yes and no.  The physical symptoms were there, but were they from actual illnesses or from hypochondria?

I think that is something we may still be debating when the 200th anniversary of the murder is approaching.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Petr on October 28, 2010, 01:55:23 PM
As Massie says in his book, she became more Orthodox than those who were born to it.  Many converts do that and she may have been more susceptible because she had thought that religion was not something that one should change lightly.

My Grandmother always believed this.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on October 28, 2010, 02:10:45 PM
Completely off topic - but her sister Ella did the same thing.  She became so Orthodox that she began her own convent.  Lutherans don't have convents.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: matushka on October 29, 2010, 12:15:08 AM
As Massie says in his book, she became more Orthodox than those who were born to it.  Many converts do that and she may have been more susceptible because she had thought that religion was not something that one should change lightly.

My Grandmother always believed this.

I personnly disagree with this classical assertion. .. Alexandra became a pious orthodox person, with deep religious interrogation. At those times, the aristocrats - people, I guess, like your, Petr grand-mother, were of course believers, church-goers. But it was the concern of the clergy that too much of them had a formal approach: religion was a normal part of their life, they had to go to church, but few of them were enthousiastic about this. How many stories about youngs aristocrat who wanted to became monks or nones and had to fight with their horrified family. First come to my memory the story of the georgian none and friend of Ella mother Famar, the story of a father Serafim, later canonized by the CHurch (at the moment forget his family name, can find it later. It was so rare. Memories of an officer like N. V. Sabline show with humour how boring officers found their religious obligations on board and how comprehensive was the priest. Maria Fedorovna, for who worked Petr’s grand-mother, as far as I understood, was that sort of believer: she had no problem with her faith, she was a church goer, she prayed sometimes, but it was a very calm and social religion(once more as far as I understood from my reading: no one read in souls, only God!). It seems to me that it was precisely that kind of orthodox who wrote and told that Alexandra Feodorovna was “more orthodox than the orthodox”. In fact, Alexandra’s religious practice: vigils and liturgy every Sunday and feast, fasting ,emotion before and after communion, personnal prayers and reading, questioning, seems to me the normal concern of a pious orthodox person, who is living his religion and not only practice it.
That was my first point.
The second is based on the fact that Alexandra, being an orthodox person, had her own way and keep very late an interest for other spiritualities, as prove her personnal diaries with notations form lutherian and other authors, as prove her interest for Monsieur Philippe and, in 1902-07, her friendship with the Montenegran princesses. Janet Ashton develop this element in her article. That was so true that more traditional orthodox people, like her sister Elisabeth, worried for her orthodoxy.
Alexandra certainly found in religion a comfort for in her sorrows and physicals pains, but her concern for religion and spirituals matters are anterior to these.
As for Ella, she “became so orthodox that she found her own convent”, that’s true, but it does not prove that she “became more orthodox than native orthodox”: first a lot of native orthodox founded monasteries during the story, second Ella’s convent was not at all a classical orthodox one, it was something very new, which (and it was her fear) did not find real developpement after her death.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: matushka on October 29, 2010, 12:16:06 AM
Sorry, Alixz, if I have been a little of topic!
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on October 29, 2010, 09:35:20 AM
Matushka - not at all!

I was the one who brought religion into this discussion.  However, I brought it in thinking that Alexandra's religious convictions were a symptom of her inability to deal with the life surrounding her.  And by extension, a symptom of her illnesses.

I admire those who truly "live" their religions.  I have many Orthodox Jewish friends who do that every day.  I believe that the outward trappings of their religion, though this sets them apart from others, shows that their religion is extremely important in their daily lives and that they live with being set apart because their religion means so much to them.

IMHO Alexandra became not spiritual but mystical looking for a divine intervention and she didn't seem to care how it manifested itself.

I know that, in life, we must learn from "fools and from sages", but Alexandra took this thought to another level and became almost manic in her seeking.

Again, IMHO, I think that this strain manifested itself in the various "illnesses" that she maintained she suffered from.  And again, the court physicians had no way of preventing her from continuing down this path as Alexandra believed she was sick and the doctors had no power over an Empress to change her way of thinking.

I also wonder about the taking of drugs.  We know that both she and Nicholas took drugs that we also now know are horribly addicting.  Perhaps some of her symptoms were withdrawal symptoms.  Withdrawal causes horrible physical symptoms and can actually make the sufferer think that he/she is dying.  The drug withdrawal can cause the feelings of heart trouble and breathing trouble.  They can also manifest as body aches and joint pain.  There is also electric hot sweating (similar to the "hot flashes" women experience during menopause) and then alternating freezing hands and feet.  Just look up withdrawal symptoms for any addictive drug and there is a list that has absolutely everything imaginable on it.  Many of the symptoms are what Alexandra is said to have "suffered" from.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Petr on October 29, 2010, 12:12:02 PM
I apologize if I have offended anyone by my post. The issue of an individual's "religiosity" is such a personal and individual one that I personally do not believe it is an appropriate area for criticism. The tragic thing is that in an autocracy the autocrat, especially one who is also the head of the Church, does not have the luxury or privilege of keeping his or her religious beliefs and practices to oneself (a terrible failing and perhaps cost of autocracy in general) and they become fodder for all those who wish to criticize the autocrat and his or her policies. Even in liberal parliamentary England Queen Elizabeth had a terrible time dealing with Princess Margaret's desire to marry Capt. Townsend because he had been divorced.  I read the Ashton article and it does address the mysticism that the Empress was prone to. As a practicing Russian Orthodox believer I know full well the long and important role mysticism has in Orthodoxy (to contrast it to western religions) so that part doesn't shock or disturb me at all. But there is always the issue of balance. The beliefs are not in question but perhaps the way they are manifested might be.

Getting back to the topic, on the drugs issue I've read somewhere that both N&A took cocaine for upper respiratory infections (a great nasal decongestant) and one that was commonly prescribed at that time. I wonder if that is true and if true I wonder if it aggravated her heart problems and her general health issues as addressed in Alixz's post.       
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on October 29, 2010, 01:16:12 PM
"Cocaine produces a sense of extreme joy by causing the brain to release higher than normal amounts of some biochemicals. However, cocaine's effects on other parts of the body can be very serious or even deadly.

When cocaine use is stopped or when a binge ends, a crash follows almost immediately. This crash is accompanied by a strong craving for more
cocaine. Additional symptoms include fatigue, lack of pleasure, anxiety, irritability, sleepiness, and sometimes agitation or extreme suspicion."


"The level of craving, irritability, delayed depression, and other symptoms produced by cocaine withdrawal rivals or exceeds that felt with other withdrawal syndromes."

https://health.google.com/health/ref/Cocaine+withdrawal
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: AGRBear on October 29, 2010, 01:44:44 PM
It is so very difficult for generations born in modern times when science and medicine has been able to explain what people born in the 1800s did not know or understand.   The people in those days were prone to turn elsewhere for the answers.  Two common places were:  religion  and mysticism.   One or the other was given the blame or the credit.  Example:  If an  infant, who was well when he/she was placed into bed,  suddenly died,  the parents looked to their God... But the death of a child is so difficult, that often times,  their belief in God was far too strong, so, they looked around for other answers.  Maybe,  at the corner of their street lived a craggy old woman,  who had already been blame for other strange deaths or the event when  a cow had blood in her milk, and, so, she was labeled the village "witch".  The grief stricken parents believed that the "witch" had placed a hex on their child....  Today,  we know that the infant probably died of  "sudden death syndrome" and not because of a hex by an old woman living at the corner.  Obvious to us, but,  not to the old timers.  

I understand this mentality because I'm old enough to have lived on the mystical border.  As a young kid,  I heard stories about black cats,  ghosts,  and things that bump-in-the-night,  oh,  and let me not forget,  the vampires.  The old timers would swear up and down they had seen old aunt Maggie's  ghost dragging her chains through the old uncles house....  To this day,  I'll  knock on wood for good luck, which is an old Celtic habit handed down through the ages....

In order for the old nanny to keep her ward in line,  she'd tell the children not to wander far because of the old witch who lived in the woods who might catch them and eat them for her supper....  No one had an ipad to check out this old nanny's  story back in those days.

Alexandra and most people around her believed in good and bad luck,  good and bad spirits, the devil,  men sent to earth by God....  And,  she believed Rasputin was sent to her by her God in her time of need.

When Rasputin sent word that they should stop giving Tsarvich Alexei aspirn [I don't know if that is what the chemical was called then],  it saved his life, because aspirn thinned the blood and that was the last thing that a hemophiliac needed.

It is so easy for us in this day and age to scoff at Alexandra's mystic beliefs but desperate people reach out and do desperate things.  Also,  we must remember that the bible, be it written in English, German or Russian,  held stories about people, even angels, sent to earth to do God's work.

When Harry Potter became so popular with the children,  I had to smile.  They were getting a lot of the old stories I had heard as a kid.  It almost seems that the children had been so starved for these kinds of stories that they couldn't seem to get their fill once they were introduced to children [not cartoons] with magical powers who could defeat the  terrible villains, plus,  the silly humans who cannot believe anything about Harry Potter's world.   The difference between  my generation and  all those before us, like Alexandra,  believed the impossible was possible, but,  the generations of most of the posters reading this t cannot believe in impossible worlds like that of Harry Potter.

Back to Alexandra's health.  

I think a lot of her problems were mental caused by  stress  which cause her physical ills  long before Alexei was born.

AGRBear



 



Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on October 29, 2010, 01:55:36 PM
Great post, Bear, all of it very true, except:

To this day,  I'll  knock on wood for good luck, which is an old Celtic habit handed down through the ages....
I do too, but it is far too widespread in Central, Southern and Eastern Europe (e.g. постучи по дереву), the Middle East and even Asia to be a Celtic habit. I would have presumed it was Christian (touch wood as in the Holy Cross), but apparently it's also found in non-Christian cultures.

BTW the compulsive need to trace everything folkloric back to the Celtic Mists  is undoubtedly another proof of people's alienation from their native folklore.

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: AGRBear on October 29, 2010, 02:18:15 PM
Completely off topic - but her sister Ella did the same thing.  She became so Orthodox that she began her own convent.  Lutherans don't have convents.

The old Lutheran church did have convents with nuns.

The Lutherans  in the town in which I was born  had visiting nuns, who came from the big city and  wore baby blue and white habits.   I think my mother's generation held the last of these devout Lutheran ladies.

Remember,  Luther's religion was not all that different than the Catholic, which  we called  "the Pope's religion"  when Luther's  protestants  first broke away.  

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Petr on October 29, 2010, 03:18:01 PM
In order for the old nanny to keep her ward in line,  she'd tell the children not to wander far because of the old witch who lived in the woods who might catch them and eat them for her supper....  No one had an ipad to check out this old nanny's  story back in those days.

Baba Yaga!!! She lived in the woods in a hut which stood on chicken legs!
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: matushka on October 30, 2010, 06:16:45 AM
I apologize if I have offended anyone by my post.  

Petr, I was not offended at all, I am sorry if I gave such an impression! On the contrary, I found your post very interesting, especially because they let me/us hear a voice from those times we are speaking about! I was just at this moment upset with this old affirmation of an "Empress more orthodox than the orthodox" springing for one book to another, and which I found not exactly true.

Alixz, is that known when approximately Alexandra Fedorovna stated to use cocaine for her treatments? A chronological point of view could help us answer to the question of a possible dependance symtom, explaining her diverses pains.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on October 30, 2010, 09:41:36 AM
matushka - I have to admit that I can't remember where I read it.  It was a long time ago and student of mine even decided to do her annual class paper on Nicholas and his use of drugs.  I remember getting the book from the public library for her because, at that time, it was easier for me to get it from my town library than for her to apply for inter-library loan.

This was back in 1982 or so and my student was 17.  As a young person living through the worrisome teen years and the peer pressure to smoke and drink and use drugs, she thought that it was interesting that Nicholas and Alexandra had used drugs.  I wasn't the teacher who had assigned the project but I remember him saying to her, "So you want to try to excuse Nicky by looking at his drug use."  I think she got an A- on the paper.

But Petr has also mentioned this and perhaps he can help us with a source.  I will keep looking and trying to remember, but hopefully either he or another poster and come up with this information. I might be slow in finding it after all these years.

Bear - One of the things that is bothersome to a lot of people who have a problem with organized religion (and please don't anyone skewer me) is the belief that if something good happens it is God's will, but if something bad happens, then God moves in mysterious ways.

In Alexandra's case, both she and Nicholas seemed to see both the good and the bad as God's will, but Alexandra also kept looking for a "sign" from God that even though she might deserve this terrible crises (put in whatever crises you want) that God would also send her a sign or - in the case of Rasputin - one to intervene for her with God.

But back to topic and I agree that many of Alexandra's health problems were caused by stress manifesting itself in physical ways.  As I said before - anxiety disorder, panic attacks and depression.

Also, I have never heard that Alexei was being given the chemical that we call Aspirin.  Can you give us your source?  It makes a great deal of sense for aspirin to be discontinued even though the doctors and probably Rasputin as well did not know of the bleeding risks.  That might be one of the greatest coincidences in history.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Petr on October 30, 2010, 10:49:24 AM
But back to topic and I agree that many of Alexandra's health problems were caused by stress manifesting itself in physical ways.  As I said before - anxiety disorder, panic attacks and depression.

I talked to my Mother this morning about this and she told me (she's 97) that her Mother (my Grandmother) told her that whenever Alexandra Feodorovna met with her Freilins (ladies in waiting) she would break out in hives (probably because she was painfully shy). Apparently she also had a hysterical (false) pregnancy.   
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: AGRBear on October 30, 2010, 11:58:52 AM

Bear - One of the things that is bothersome to a lot of people who have a problem with organized religion (and please don't anyone skewer me) is the belief that if something good happens it is God's will, but if something bad happens, then God moves in mysterious ways.


The  belief that everything is "God's Will" falls under the subject of "fatalism",  which Nicholas II was burden from the day,  Jobs Day, he was born by his religious teachers.

Sometime ago,  I pulled out sources about Nicholas'  fatalistic views on different important events.  To me,  this explains why  he and his family never attempted any kind of escape.  It was always:  "What God Wills".  

As for the aspirin:

Quote
Also, I have never heard that Alexei was being given the chemical that we call Aspirin.  Can you give us your source?  It makes a great deal of sense for aspirin to be discontinued even though the doctors and probably Rasputin as well did not know of the bleeding risks.  That might be one of the greatest coincidences in history
 

I believe this was brought up a long time ago on one of the AP threads about Alexei and Rasputin.   I don't recall the poster's source.  But the fact stuck in my head.  Maybe someone who has time can run it through "search".  I have to  close,  I have things I need to do today.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: AGRBear on November 01, 2010, 12:12:43 PM
In a book by the french author Frederic mitterand I've learn that if Raspoutine saved Alexei's life during his crisis, it's because he asked the doctors to stop his medicines which were based on aspirin. Of course now we know it favour bleeding but is that possible that doctors ignored at this time and that they gave aspirin to Alexei?
I would like to know if somebody else heard about it ???

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on November 01, 2010, 03:15:28 PM
I know that Belochka also mentioned it in the threads about Rasputin and Alexei under the Rasputin sub forum.

However, there doesn't seem to be a source no matter where I check.

But I wouldn't doubt that the doctors didn't know about the blood thinning properties of aspirin in the early part of the 20th century.  The big notice of it didn't come in the latter part of the century until the 1980s and/or 1990s.  Up until then everyone, including babies, took aspirin for every ache and pain.  The whole Reyes Syndrome thing didn't come out until the 1980s either.

Even if researchers knew about these things, the average person didn't and with aspirin available without a prescription everyone just took it.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: AGRBear on November 05, 2010, 03:24:23 PM
Perhaps the information is in the following book:

In this book:

Quote
Frederic Mitterrand has written a book called "Mémoires d'exil". It's about the royal families after the WW1. I found my informations here.

http://www.amazon.fr/exec/obidos/ASIN/2266104519/qid=1093274128/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_8_1/171-3726130-1171452

http://www.alapage.com/mx/?id=87491054807505&donnee_appel=KELKO&tp=F&type=1&l_isbn=2266104519&devise=&fulltext=&sv=X_L

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: STKF on November 08, 2010, 10:29:27 AM
I can vouch for stress related problems. I believe that they can cause havoc with your health. Alexandra was under major stress. With the pressure to produce an heir, the public functions she had to attend, the friction between herself and Dowager Empress  & Alexei's illness.  I can feel for her as I get chronic migraines and nasty siactia. That must have been very painful for her to have to get up & go.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on November 09, 2010, 08:33:20 AM
I understand the stress factor.  I think that most of us do in some way or another.

As I said earlier, I don't like Alexandra much, but I do understand some of what she was going through.  I just think that she handled her problems wrong. 

We have always said that Nicholas had to take his "lumps" for his decisions and actions, I just think that Alexandra had to take hers as well.  If we can't make excuses for his bad decisions, then we shouldn't be making them for hers either.

When she took on the job of Nicholas's wife, she also took on the job of Empress.  She knew that.  So "getting up and going" was her job as well as producing that all important heir.

How many of us would lose our jobs if we didn't get up and go every day?  And - this is more important - how many people with serious handicaps and illnesses get up and go in spite of their problems?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: AGRBear on November 19, 2010, 04:28:28 PM
I can't even begin to imagine the different kinds of depression Alexandra must have suffered due to all the different kinds of stress from the time Nicholas II left to take up the role of Commander-in-Chief to his abdication to their arrest and to the last few moments as she stood with her family and others in front of their executioners in the basement room in the Ipatiev House.  

AGRBear
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Geniebeanie on December 06, 2010, 09:23:18 PM
I often wondered if she suffered from a depression, or mental illness even before Alexis was born and his hemophilia was known.   She had to know what was required by the wife of a Tsar, she either refused or could not do the public duties.  The Russian people  wanted  and needed to see the Royal couple, she only wanted to live like a private couple with the children in the AP.  It was like she did not want to meet her responsibilities.    No wonder the Russian people thought she hated the country and them.  I know she loved her adopted country but it seemed like only on her terms.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: LauraO on December 07, 2010, 04:40:46 AM
I often wondered if she suffered from a depression, or mental illness even before Alexis was born and his hemophilia was known.   She had to know what was required by the wife of a Tsar, she either refused or could not do the public duties.  The Russian people  wanted  and needed to see the Royal couple, she only wanted to live like a private couple with the children in the AP.  It was like she did not want to meet her responsibilities.    No wonder the Russian people thought she hated the country and them.  I know she loved her adopted country but it seemed like only on her terms.

i don't think it was so much just on her own terms, people who are  shy (for want of a better word) do not do well in public and find it difficult to act wonderfully engaged when they are. i don't think she had a mentall illness or depression pre alexei, perhaps a kind of depression post his birth. yes she knew what was required of her and what she needed to do, but she just couldn't do it- she couldn't pull it off, and she was wrong to do so. a tsarina should be a person prepared to be in the spotlight, the centre of attention at balls or public events- not absolutley necesary for an effective consort, but it helps with public appreaence. alix just wasn't like that. Helen Rappaport's "Ekaterinberg" is pretty good for an insight into alix's health and what made her the way she was. i think she should, or even needed to be prepared to be in the spotlight sometimes, but it wasn't her fault that God made her unwilling or unable to be. she was who she was.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Kalafrana on December 07, 2010, 05:46:50 AM
Shyness seems to have been widespread among Queen Victoria's grandchildren and great-grandchildren - George VI was the extreme case apart from Alexandra. However, most of them steeled themselves and managed to function in their public role at least at an adequate level. Being quite shy myself, I know that there is such a thing as 'putting on an act', which enables a person to get through things they'd rather not have to do. There is also the possibility, for some people in the public eye, of keeping their exposure to things they don't enjoy to a manageable level. So Alexander III, who didn't like balls, would turn up, do his duty dances, and then bumble round chatting for an hour or so before heading home with relief.

Unfortunately, these are things Alexandra never learned.

Ann
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on December 07, 2010, 08:48:02 AM
George VI had other problems.  Along with his shyness.  He was left handed and was made to use his right hand.  That is a very debilitating thing to do to anyone.

It exacerbated his other emotional problems and caused him to stutter.  He did, though, practice public speaking and with the help of his wife Queen Elizabeth (before she was the Queen Mum), he overcame a lot of his problems.

His wife, Queen Elizabeth, always blamed his young death on his brother Edward VIII.  She felt his selfishness in abdicating to be with Wallis Simpson was one of the things that put extra pressure on George VI and caused his early death.

George VI did, though, do what Alexandra did not.  He rose to the occasion like the true great grandson of Queen Victoria that he was.  If only Alexandra could have been like so many of her ancestors, cousins and their descendants, she would have stood up and did her job.

Posters make all kinds of excuses for her, and while I know that some of what she suffered would be too much for even the long suffering Job (as Nicholas always compared himself to) to comprehend and deal with, we don't make as many excuses for others who were in equally tough situations.

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on December 07, 2010, 09:28:08 AM
Some of the others aren't figuratively tarred and feathered like she was, either.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: LauraO on December 07, 2010, 01:39:35 PM
alexandra made mistakes, it was part of the job to be good in public or at least look like you were. and as for her health in connection to this i think that she honestly did feel (physically) lousy sometimes and thats why she looks wrist slittingly depressed. but despite what she should or shouldn't have done, or why in terms of health she acted the way she did,even though i agree that as tsarina (and an intelligent woman) she should have been able to act like she should  in public -i think that its a little disheartening  that she has been dead for over 90 years , and we are still moaning about her on here for the same things that she was attacked for then- some of the things that made her life a misery.

as previously mentioned the things that she had to deal with and the stress that she was under was immense- having a serious impact on her health- it wasn't what was wrong with her and what problems she had- because its obvious that serious issues were there- but its the WAY that she dealt with them.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Kalafrana on December 08, 2010, 03:27:18 AM
'it wasn't what was wrong with her and what problems she had- because its obvious that serious issues were there- but its the WAY that she dealt with them.'

Precisely. In some ways it may have been even more difficult for George VI as men are expected to cope with everything life throws at them. As Alixz says, he had speech therapy and largely overcame the stutter (though he never enjoyed making speeches). He rose to the occasion and became a very popular king precisely because he faced up to his problems and did his job.

Ann
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: LauraO on December 08, 2010, 09:58:31 AM
i agree that as a man george VI would have probably felt more pressure to act the right way- especially as sovereign, however the circumstances that alexandra were in are pretty exceptional, and can be viewed in her favour or against her. as far as facing up to her problems i think its easier said than done, but arguably she SHOULD have been able to do so- interesting point in itself. i also think that the way she dealt with some (not all) things was the only way that she really could have- like i said, not always, most certainly NOT trying to back up all that she did wrong, but just making the point that some that she did "wrong" in the eyes of many was one of those things when you're like - what else could have been done? i think sometimes she knew what to do- just didn't do it- whether that was through arrogance, or personal affliction or something else i  don't know? i think anxiety contributed to a lot- anxiety brought on from pressure over the years, mostly post alexei's birth. in the early days of being consort alix should have adapted imo- but i feel that by the war years if she'd done flips and handstands it wouldn't have made a scrap of difference.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on December 08, 2010, 10:46:54 AM
I just keep thinking about all those years that she refused to marry Nicholas because of her faith.  If she had accepted sooner, she would have had many years to be a bride, but not an Empress/Bride.

That might have made all of the difference in the world, too.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: LauraO on December 08, 2010, 02:01:42 PM
I just keep thinking about all those years that she refused to marry Nicholas because of her faith.  If she had accepted sooner, she would have had many years to be a bride, but not an Empress/Bride.

That might have made all of the difference in the world, too.

totally agree- from a romance pov the fact that they were still "committed" after 10 years looks wonderful, but practically it might have changed everything for both alix and nicky.
the way that she acted due to health implications was arguably exusable and not really affected by the years not experienced as tsarevna, but those years may have had a massive impact on the whole downfall of the monarchy.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: historyfan on December 08, 2010, 08:37:23 PM
I just keep thinking about all those years that she refused to marry Nicholas because of her faith.  If she had accepted sooner, she would have had many years to be a bride, but not an Empress/Bride.

That might have made all of the difference in the world, too.

I think you're right - it would have been easier for her if she'd had time to "ease into" the role.  But I don't know how many years she would've had.  In 1894, she was only 22.  Let's say she married Nicholas in 1890, at the age of 18 - she still would've only had four years.  That doesn't seem like a long time to me, certainly nothing close to the 15 or so years her mother-in-law had.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: LauraO on December 09, 2010, 08:40:52 AM
I just keep thinking about all those years that she refused to marry Nicholas because of her faith.  If she had accepted sooner, she would have had many years to be a bride, but not an Empress/Bride.

That might have made all of the difference in the world, too.

I think you're right - it would have been easier for her if she'd had time to "ease into" the role.  But I don't know how many years she would've had.  In 1894, she was only 22.  Let's say she married Nicholas in 1890, at the age of 18 - she still would've only had four years.  That doesn't seem like a long time to me, certainly nothing close to the 15 or so years her mother-in-law had.


very good point- as helpful as this time may have been there may have been a limited amount anyway, and i don't think that a marriage this early would have been the right choice anyway- in terms of marriage 1894 was obviously "right" for nicky and alix, just not in terms of preparation to rule an empire.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on December 09, 2010, 09:25:38 AM
We know that they etched their names into a window glass in 1884 at the ages of 12 and 16 - far too young to think about marriage.  Alix came back to Russia in 1888 at the age of 16 - that was the pivotal meeting.

Marriages took place from age 16 and up for most dynastic brides.  But if they had married in 1890 instead of 1894, four years doesn't seem that long, but remember that would be four years with Alexander III still in charge and Marie still hosting all of the balls etc.

From the 1894 marriage through 1898, Nicholas and Alix had two children.  Had this happened as Tsarevich and Tsareva, they would have had much more privacy and fewer public responsibilities.

Four years of acclimation to Russia and the Russian way of life might have made all the difference.  And perhaps, and I know that FA doesn't like us to get started on "what if", but perhaps Marie would have been more supportive and less jealous in the role of Empress not Dowager Empress in mourning.

Just try to remember how much more slowly time went by when we were 18 and 22 than it does for us now that some of us are much much older. 

And remember the whole "she comes to us behind a coffin" thing?  Not a problem in either 1888 or 1890.

But even if there was no way to get the engagement done before 1894, I just wish that someone with some sense has made them wait to marry until at least 6 months after Alexander's death.

But - before FA puts this into "Having Fun" - back to reality.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Petr on December 09, 2010, 12:03:47 PM
I just keep thinking about all those years that she refused to marry Nicholas because of her faith.  If she had accepted sooner, she would have had many years to be a bride, but not an Empress/Bride. That might have made all of the difference in the world, too.

totally agree- from a romance pov the fact that they were still "committed" after 10 years looks wonderful, but practically it might have changed everything for both alix and nicky. the way that she acted due to health implications was arguably exusable and not really affected by the years not experienced as tsarevna, but those years may have had a massive impact on the whole downfall of the monarchy.

Another reason why Alexander III's untimely death has potentially had such an adverse impact.

Petr

Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: LauraO on December 09, 2010, 12:15:59 PM
so many things impacted on the outcome of the end of the monarchy that i think it is impossible to lay all the blame on alix or nicky. or in that case to label all of the problems that caused them both to be a "problem" for instance, i think to say that alix's poor health,  (imo anxiety and stresss induced mostly), religious views, political views, place of birth etc, can not be blamed singly or combined for the downfall of the monarchy- likewise nicky's poor decision making, choice of consort and weak judgment cannot be blamed. so many things combined to make things the way that they were- like you say, the early death of alexander III, you may lay the blame mostly or entirely on alix or nicky, but you must consider what put them in the position that they were.

back to alix's health i wonder if anyone knows the name of it, but there is a long term sort of nervous breakdown, which the name of i can't recall, which brings about both severe anixety and depression with serious migraines, wonder if anyone knows what i'm talking about?
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Kalafrana on December 09, 2010, 01:54:24 PM
As far as the timing of the marriage is concerned, we need to remeber that not only did Alexandra have doubts, Nicholas's parents were against the match until a late stage.

However, if they could not have married in Alexaqnder III's lifetime, they should have waited until official mourning was over, and married shortly before the coronation.

Ann
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: LauraO on August 26, 2011, 01:11:36 PM
hi know this hasn't been posted in for a while, but was wondering (sorry if this has been answered before) i know that alix took a lot of medication- veronal, valium drops, occassionally morphine etc, but i was wondering if anyone could say what she took each of these for? e.g what did she take for the migraines, what did she use to calm down during or after what was arguable a panic attack, was the veronal taken to give her more energy?
thanks
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Justine on August 26, 2011, 02:32:55 PM
veronal was comonly used(from 1900s until 1950s if I remember correctly) as sleeping drug.
valium drops were(& still are?) used during panic attacks & generally to calm down.
morphine is still used as pain killer, to treat acute or chronic pain-so it's probable(imho) that Alexandra used it to help to relieve pain, as she suffered for years from sciatica. I've also read somewhere that it might be used during heart attacks, though I don't know if it's true & what exactly morphine do...
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: LauraO on August 26, 2011, 02:58:23 PM
thanks, how do you take veronal? or more to the point..in what form would alexandra have taken veronal? pressed into pills?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Justine on August 26, 2011, 03:15:42 PM
I think I once read that veronal was a powder that was melted in water or something. I don't know how accurate that information is though-perhaps someone would know?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Petr on August 27, 2011, 10:41:24 AM
hi know this hasn't been posted in for a while, but was wondering (sorry if this has been answered before) i know that alix took a lot of medication- veronal, valium drops, occassionally morphine etc, but i was wondering if anyone could say what she took each of these for? e.g what did she take for the migraines, what did she use to calm down during or after what was arguable a panic attack, was the veronal taken to give her more energy?
thanks

Both AF and NII were reported to have taken tincture of Cocaine (which is a powerful nasal decongestant) for colds.

Petr
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Kalafrana on August 27, 2011, 12:36:04 PM
I can report that cocaine is a severe disappointment when taken for nasal problems!

Some years ago I had an investigation for sinus trouble which involved putting an endoscope up my nose. The ENT specialist announced that he was a licensed drug dealer and was going to numb the inside of my nose with cocaine. Great, I thought, now's my chance to try cociane legally.

Alas, no high, nothing, only a sensation of my nose being well and truly scraped out. The specialist did admit that we weren't doing it properly, as you're supposed to snort it from a £50 note.

I've dined out on that one a few times.

Ann
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Olga Bernice on August 27, 2011, 08:26:16 PM
Did Alexandra actually have *health problems* (i.e. cancer, diabetes, hemophilia, etc.) or were most of her migraines and sicknesses from worry and stress?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: DNAgenie on August 28, 2011, 02:50:17 AM
With her family history I beieve she was suffering from porphyria.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: LauraO on August 28, 2011, 02:52:25 AM
well alix believed that she was ill due to problems with her heart, however doctors reports show that this wasn't true, it was just something alix convinced herself of, and any problems like this were down to stress and nervous problems- something alix refused to admit. Therefore she was probably recieving the wrong treatment through stubborness. As for haemophilia she would have most likely have had effects because she was a carrier, and although she didn't really suffer from haemophilia, women can have effects due to it, which i think i read somewhere there was description of.
anyone know what form she would have taken veronal in?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on August 28, 2011, 04:03:14 AM
well alix believed that she was ill due to problems with her heart, however doctors reports show that this wasn't true, it was just something alix convinced herself of, and any problems like this were down to stress and nervous problems- something alix refused to admit. 
This is an old misunderstanding. The Empress herself explicitly recognized that her health problems were not caused by an organic heart defect but largely by endless worries and sorrows - she did so in writing and her words have been published, for everyone to read.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Justine on August 28, 2011, 04:46:26 AM
could you please write where did she wrote that? I'm curious to see it...
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on August 28, 2011, 06:41:27 AM
Sure! In a letter to Margarethe von Fabrice, her friend and former lady-in-waiting. You can find this specific letter on page 196 of "Alix an Gretchen" , published by Heinrich Graf von Spreti and Rotraut von Prittwitz. I also remember reading words to the same effect in one or two letters that she wrote to her husband during World War I.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: bestfriendsgirl on August 28, 2011, 10:07:35 AM
I can report that cocaine is a severe disappointment when taken for nasal problems!

Some years ago I had an investigation for sinus trouble which involved putting an endoscope up my nose. The ENT specialist announced that he was a licensed drug dealer and was going to numb the inside of my nose with cocaine. Great, I thought, now's my chance to try cociane legally.

Alas, no high, nothing, only a sensation of my nose being well and truly scraped out. The specialist did admit that we weren't doing it properly, as you're supposed to snort it from a £50 note.

I've dined out on that one a few times.

Ann

LOL! I wonder if they had ruble notes to snort from in Imperial Russia ...
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Justine on August 28, 2011, 03:00:41 PM
Sure! In a letter to Margarethe von Fabrice, her friend and former lady-in-waiting. You can find this specific letter on page 196 of "Alix an Gretchen" , published by Heinrich Graf von Spreti and Rotraut von Prittwitz. I also remember reading words to the same effect in one or two letters that she wrote to her husband during World War I.

the book's in German, right? is it avaiable anywhere to buy?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on August 28, 2011, 04:22:57 PM
Yes, this book is in German, and this particular letter partly in German, partly in English.
I bought a copy in the museumshop on the Mathildenhöhe in Darmstadt several years ago, but don't know anything about its present selling points.
www.antiqbook.com has one copy available from an antiquariat in Amsterdam at the moment.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Justine on August 29, 2011, 02:59:42 AM
thanks for information :)
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Sunny on October 02, 2011, 05:52:30 AM
In the list of the search of Ipatev House on the Ap main site, i found out that in IH were found 2 homeopathic remedies: ignatia & aconitum
Since i am personally interested in homeopathy & use it myself to treat me, i thought it was interesting to talk a bit about it - i didn't find anything specifical in the thread so here i am.

From the web & my personal books (sorry for the rought translation)

IGNATIA: people who need ignatia are emotionally unstable; often introvert & lonely, usually close into themselves and think again and again to real or imaginary insults but didn't want to move other's pity and feel insulted if that happens. Get easily nervous, but often don't show their bad emotions. They like contradict other, but don't want others to contradict them. Exagerrate events & are unable to bear phisical pain and usually feel exhausted.
Unstable mood: from cry to laugh without reason.
They are often unders stress (real or not), depressed, isolated, laconic, they suffer from insomnia and are ipersesitive. They generally suffer from headaches, anxiety, panic attacks, phisical pains (expecially in legs and arms and heart), feeling of too fast palpitations and a psycosomatic cough.

This seems to me a good portrait of Alix in her last months. Of course, most people don't believe in homepathy, but i think this could be a nice discussion.

ACONITUM: For peolpe with anxiety, nervousness and fear of Death. They suffer from headaches even if they could seem healthy and strong. Their posing is rigid, they have trouble breathing. They usually suffer from varius phisical pains because they always are defensive towards the whole world.

What do you think?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Kalafrana on October 02, 2011, 06:26:51 AM
Interesting. The first sounds like a description of Alexandra for most of her adult life - certainly after Alexei's birth.

Ann
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Sunny on October 02, 2011, 06:45:37 AM
Interesting. The first sounds like a description of Alexandra for most of her adult life - certainly after Alexei's birth.

Ann

yes i was thinking the same. Ignatia is a strong remedy for depression & anxiety.
Title: Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Clemence on March 07, 2012, 02:37:17 PM
FWIW (as I'm not a psychiatrist), my own personal theory is that Alexandra had avoidant personality disorder (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avoidant_personality_disorder).  I bound to see it this way, though, as it's what I have too.  Thankfully, I see qualified medical professionals rather than Rasputin etc.

It is my opinion also, and I'm not a psychiatrist either, that Alexandra had Avoidant personality disorder. It would explain most of her symptoms to me.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: LauraO on March 08, 2012, 12:37:58 AM
Interestong thoughts here, again i think Ignatia sounds like a pretty good description of Alix to me. Talking about the second point, Aconitum, it says "fear of death", i'm not saying by any stretch that to suffer from one of these you must suffer every sympton, but do you think Alix did fear death in that way? I would have thought her faith may have strongly protected her from such fears....
I've never had much of a belief in the power of homepathy, but i'm willing to be convinced!
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Alixz on March 08, 2012, 01:17:22 PM
When my son was young, we tried homeopathic medicine for some of his ailments. The less important of which was teething pain.  Nothing that we tried ever worked.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Rodney_G. on March 08, 2012, 04:08:43 PM
well alix believed that she was ill due to problems with her heart, however doctors reports show that this wasn't true, it was just something alix convinced herself of, and any problems like this were down to stress and nervous problems- something alix refused to admit. Therefore she was probably recieving the wrong treatment through stubborness. As for haemophilia she would have most likely have had effects because she was a carrier, and although she didn't really suffer from haemophilia, women can have effects due to it, which i think i read somewhere there was description of.
anyone know what form she would have taken veronal in?
I think veronal was taken in liquid form then, possibly in drops, but more likely in a sponful of liquid, a la cough syrup. Don't quote me on this.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Sunny on March 09, 2012, 12:40:07 AM
I think it too. In her letters from Ekaterinbug, Maria always wrote about "Mama's bottles" so it's very likely it eas liquid/drops. But i'll check.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Inok Nikolai on March 10, 2012, 04:05:18 PM
Having searched the Forum as best I could, I did not happen to find this incident addressed anywhere.
(Forgive me if I am wrong, and please point me to where it has been discussed already.)

In "25 Chapters of My Life", p. 79, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna recounts how in the summer or autumn of 1903 she accompanied N II and AF to Pskov to attend the army maneuvers.

As elsewhere in her memoirs, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna refers to them as "my eldest brother" and "my sister-in-law".

Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna states that while there, Empress Alexandra slipped and fell, breaking her arm. This is the first I have ever heard of this.

Does anyone know anything more about this?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Romanov_Fan19 on August 10, 2015, 01:45:56 PM
Did  she have  Cyanosis  I Recall  reading  her lips  turned blue
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Helen on August 11, 2015, 02:17:27 AM
In "25 Chapters of My Life", p. 79, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna recounts how in the summer or autumn of 1903 she accompanied N II and AF to Pskov to attend the army maneuvers.
Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna states that while there, Empress Alexandra slipped and fell, breaking her arm. This is the first I have ever heard of this.
Does anyone know anything more about this?
On 6/19 August 1903, the Emperor wrote in his diary: "... At 10:30 we went to Pskov. ... We had dinner at 8 pm. We amused ourselves by going down the river on trays along the embankment. Alix hurt her hand when slipping from the stairway banister." [Translation by Stephen R. de Angelis]
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Romafan96 on September 06, 2015, 12:22:07 PM
I think people can be a bit harsh when assessing Alexandra, particularly when it comes to the issue of her health. Branding her as "insane" is rather cold and doesn't seem to take into account the fact this woman had an extremely tragic life.

Firstly, she loses both of her parents before she is 20. Secondly, she marries into a foreign court with and has to come to terms with a new religion, language, culture and court in a very short space of time. Thirdly, her physical health is generally poor. The speed at which she produced children would wear out most women since pregnancy, as any woman who has had children will tell you, can/is very taxing on the body. Then to put the cherry on the ill-tasting cake, her only son, the one who is supposed to one day rule an empire, has a debilitating illness that could kill him at any moment. The fact she passed it onto him probably made her feel even worse. I'm not surprised at all that Alix had a number of health issues both physically and mentally. I think people can be quite insensitive to her plight at times. I'm not saying Alix was a saint but recently I've come to believe that she was a sick woman who has been unfairly demonised both when she was alive and after her death. 
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Inok Nikolai on September 06, 2015, 04:07:59 PM
In "25 Chapters of My Life", p. 79, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna recounts how in the summer or autumn of 1903 she accompanied N II and AF to Pskov to attend the army maneuvers.
Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna states that while there, Empress Alexandra slipped and fell, breaking her arm. This is the first I have ever heard of this.
Does anyone know anything more about this?
On 6/19 August 1903, the Emperor wrote in his diary: "... At 10:30 we went to Pskov. ... We had dinner at 8 pm. We amused ourselves by going down the river on trays along the embankment. Alix hurt her hand when slipping from the stairway banister." [Translation by Stephen R. de Angelis]

Wow! Great to get an answer to that question, even after the passage of some time! That's what I like about the AP Forum -- determination!
Thank you!
I. N.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Joanna on July 28, 2016, 10:09:19 AM
Doctors in the Winter Palace (1)

http://winterpalaceresearch.blogspot.ca/2016/07/doctors-in-winter-palace-1.html

Joanna
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: DNAgenie on July 28, 2016, 07:24:05 PM
Quote
I think people can be a bit harsh when assessing Alexandra, particularly when it comes to the issue of her health. Branding her as "insane" is rather cold and doesn't seem to take into account the fact this woman had an extremely tragic life.

Alexandra was almost certainly suffering from a rare genetic disease that she inherited through her mother, Princess Alice of Great Britain. This was a form of Porphyria (either Acute Intermittent Porphyria or Variegate Porphyria) and the disease is now known to have occurred in descendants of two of her mother's siblings: via Edward VII in Prince William of Gloucester, and via Princess Victoria, Empress of Germany, in her daughter Princess Charlotte and her granddaughter Princess Feodora of Reuss.

Porphyria was not recognised as a disease until early in the twentieth century, so Alexandra's doctors cannot be blamed for failing to diagnose it. Most patients suffer abdominal pain, sometimes with vomiting and constipation. They often suffer from limb, head, neck or chest pains, muscle weakness, tachycardia and to display mental symptoms. Patients can become hypersensitive, anxious, restless, insomniac, paranoid or depressed and, in some cases, have been labelled hysterical. The high incidence of AIP in psychiatric institutions shows how easy it is to misdiagnose the disorder. One of the problems in assessing the level of occurrence of AIP is that about 90% of people who carry the defective gene never display any symptoms. Variegate Porphyria is very similar to AIP except that photosensitivity is much more common. From pp 244-247 of "Purple Secret. Genes, 'Madness' and the Royal Houses of Europe, by Rohl, Warren and Hunt, 1998.
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Royal Bloodline Descent on July 29, 2016, 05:31:09 PM
DNAgenie

Over a period of time the editor of Royal Bloodline Descent and myself (contributor)posted actual facts and posted untouched photos of certain born royals who shared a rare visible markers on their earlobes.

During the times of posting we received your comments mostly negative indicating we did not know what we were talking about and making false statements in other words trying to bend the facts as they were then and now on certain born royals.

No matter the difference of opinion Royal bloodline Descent  recognizes your knowledge on subject of genetics as we are of the rare shared royal ancestor DNA markers on certain born royals by sharing the same ancestor

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Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Joanna on November 14, 2017, 11:15:45 AM
Alexandra and eyeglasses and six year old Olga's eye exams in 1902

The new fashion in 1800s. In summer, women used umbrellas to protect the eyes. How did they protect the eyes in winter?

http://winterpalaceresearch.blogspot.ca/2017/11/why-imperial-family-ban-on-wearing.html

Joanna
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: GDSophie on November 14, 2017, 01:32:51 PM
Alexandra and eyeglasses and six year old Olga's eye exams in 1902

The new fashion in 1800s. In summer, women used umbrellas to protect the eyes. How did they protect the eyes in winter?

http://winterpalaceresearch.blogspot.ca/2017/11/why-imperial-family-ban-on-wearing.html

Joanna

So Olga had bad eyesight if she was visited multiple times by Alexandra's ophthalmologist during 1902. Did they improve after 1902?
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: Joanna on November 17, 2017, 10:19:11 AM
So Olga had bad eyesight if she was visited multiple times by Alexandra's ophthalmologist during 1902. Did they improve after 1902?

The doctor continued to treat Olga in the Alexander Palace and Peterhof later in 1902 and after.

Joanna
Title: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
Post by: GDSophie on November 17, 2017, 04:32:15 PM
So Olga had bad eyesight if she was visited multiple times by Alexandra's ophthalmologist during 1902. Did they improve after 1902?

The doctor continued to treat Olga in the Alexander Palace and Peterhof later in 1902 and after.

Joanna

Until to a certain year or until they placed under house arrest/headed to Tobolsk?