Author Topic: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2  (Read 143702 times)

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Alixz

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #420 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.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2010, 02:06:10 PM by Alixz »

Offline Petr

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #421 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.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2010, 02:07:18 PM by Alixz »
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Alixz

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #422 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.

Offline matushka

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #423 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.

Offline matushka

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #424 on: October 29, 2010, 12:16:06 AM »
Sorry, Alixz, if I have been a little of topic!

Alixz

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #425 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.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2010, 01:12:32 PM by Alixz »

Offline Petr

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #426 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.       
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Alixz

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #427 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

Offline AGRBear

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #428 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



 



« Last Edit: October 29, 2010, 01:50:41 PM by AGRBear »
"What is true by lamplight is not always true by sunlight."

Joubert, Pensees, No. 152

Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #429 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.

« Last Edit: October 29, 2010, 02:15:09 PM by Фёдор Петрович »

Offline AGRBear

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #430 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
"What is true by lamplight is not always true by sunlight."

Joubert, Pensees, No. 152

Offline Petr

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #431 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!
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Offline matushka

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #432 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.

Alixz

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #433 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.

Offline Petr

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #434 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.   
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