Thursday, September 23, 2010

18 August, 1911

Atkinson lectured on Scurvy last night. He spoke clearly and slowly, and the disease is anything but precise. He gave a little summary of its history and the remedies long in use in the Navy.

He described the symptoms in some detail. Mental depression, debility, syncope, livid patches, spongy gums, lesions, swellings, and so on to things that are worse. He thinks it is due to increased acidity in the blood, after Sir Almroth Wright's theories.

The diagnosis does not bring us much closer to a remedy. Atkinson holds that the first cause is tainted food, but also damp, cold, over-exertion, bad air, bad light, in fact every condition exceptional to normal existence. In terms of diet, fresh vegetables are the best curatives-- the lecturer was doubtful of fresh meat, but admitted its possibility in the polar climate; lime juice only useful if regularly taken.

Wilson is slow to accept his theories, putting it all down to "non proven." His remarks were extremely sound and practical as usual. He proved the value of fresh meat in the polar regions.

Scurvy seems very far away from us this time, yet after our Discovery experience, one feels that no trouble can be too great or no precaution too small to be adopted to keep it at bay.

It is certain we shall not have the disease here, but one cannot foresee equally certain avoidance in the southern journey to come. All one can do is take every possible precaution.

I pity the Norwegians with their dreary white plain of Barrier Island behind and and uninviting stretch of sea ice in front. With no landmarks, nothing to guide if the light fails, it is probably that they venture but a short distance from their hut.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog!!!
    if you like, come back and visit mine:


    Pablo from Argentina