Author Topic: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2  (Read 134171 times)

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Offline JBenjamin82

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #195 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].  It also seems that electrocardiograms were available at the turn-of-the-century[2]. 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].  Cyanosis, along with shortness of breath, edema, chest pain, and fatigue, symptoms which Alexandra exhibited, could indicate congestive heart failure[4].  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. ;)


Offline Gabriella

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #196 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.

Offline anna11

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #197 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.


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Offline JBenjamin82

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #198 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.

Offline anna11

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #199 on: October 20, 2007, 12:56:50 AM »
And it also could have caused swollen joints.


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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #200 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.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2007, 09:29:30 AM by Elizabeth~Princess »

Offline LeahMayhem

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #201 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.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2008, 03:21:05 PM by RonnieLee88 »

Offline anna11

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #202 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.
« Last Edit: February 29, 2008, 06:54:54 AM by anna11 »


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Offline Annie

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #203 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.

Offline halen

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #204 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?

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Offline pandora

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #205 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.

Offline halen

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #206 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
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Offline Eddie_uk

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #207 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!
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Offline Sarushka

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #208 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.
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Offline LeahMayhem

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Re: Re: Alexandra and her Health Part 2
« Reply #209 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.