June 17th, 2013

Medieval Medicine/Historical Medical Practice On Injuries And Disease

Hello, I'm writing a fantasy story. The setting is roughly equivalent of 13th/14th century Europe. One of the main characters is training to become a doctor at the beginning of the story. I need information on how the physicians at the time treated numerous types of wounds and diseases.

Searched Terms: Medieval Medicine, Western Medicine, 14th Century Medicine, Historical Medicine, 14th Century Doctor, Middle Ages Burn Treatment, History of Burn Treatments.

I've googled the above, most of the results were decent for general knowledge, but none have gone into the detail that I am looking for. I've also ran a few of the above searches through some research databases that my University has allowed me access to. I've also tried finding translations of "The Canon of Medicine", whoever I couldn't understand the wording, as most of the translations I found were either incomplete, poorly worded, or too expensive for me to currently afford.

I've been trying to find detailed information on what tools an educated doctor/barber of the time would use and how he would treat sword wounds, broken bones (From both Abbrazare/grappling and blunt weapons), burns of varying severity, arrows, frostbite, poison and so on.

I'd also like to know how they treated common diseases, dehydration and starvation at the time and so on.

Here's an example of what I'm looking for, although I'm not sure how accurate this example is: I have read that if someone was burned they would rinse the burned area and then pour raw honey over it. After that they would wrap sage leaves around the honey-covered burn. Apparently the honey acted as a shield against infection and the sage was believed to have healing/soothing properties for wounds. I would provide a link to the source but I can't seem to find the link in my notes.

I realize this is somewhat of a messy post but any help at all would be greatly appreciated.

[ANON POST] Managing Diabetes Without Supplies or Medical Care

Edit by mod: For some reason both versions of this anon's post were marked as suspicious comments, so I didn't see them right away. Edited to reflect the additional question from the later post.

Setting: YuGiOh (Duel Monsters/Second Series canon, somewhat altered to suit my own ends.)

Location: Temporarily stuck in a low-tech medieval-fantasy type world.

Time: Approximately five years after the Duel Monsters series ends, so modern (2008-ish?).

Searched: "type 1 diabetes", "hypoglycemia", "hypoglycemia diet", "treating diabetes without insulin", "long-term diabetes complications", "diabetic ketoacidosis", gone through most of diabetes.org, and checked the responses to any diabetes- or hypoglycemia-related articles I could find on this blog's "medicine: illnesses (misc)" tag. A lot on symptoms and either immediate or long-term management, but my timetable complicates things.

So I'm setting up for a tabletop YuGiOh rpg that I plan to run for some friends in September. The PCs are original, but I do intend for them to run across the canon characters in later scenarios.

One of the scenarios that I have set up involves Yugi, Mokuba, and a small portion of Domino City getting stuck in the Monster World, and after a week the PCs are able to come after them. The PCs find Mokuba and Yugi separated from everything else, up in a cave on a mountainside where they're being guarded by a group of Blue Eyes and some Dark Magicians. Yugi spends most of his time meditating in order to maintain energy constructs to protect the Domino civilians. Meanwhile, there's a spring somewhere back in the cave for water, and the Blue Eyes bring fresh meat that Mokuba is able to prepare and cook, so they're getting by.

Later, I discovered the trivia that Yugi may be canonically diabetic. I decided that this was an interesting dimension to the character and decided to run with it, and so started researching Type 1 Diabetes.

Yugi is a reasonably healthy man in his early twenties. He travels a lot and is often in stressful situations. While he gets plenty of exercise, he's hardly athletic. He's gotten good at keeping prepared for sudden drop-everything emergencies. For the most part he's responsible enough with his medication and diet that problems won't crop up during a scene with the PCs. However, the above scenario kicks off during a parade which Yugi was a part of, and I think it would be a stretch to have him prepared for any more than half a day away from his supplies, and neither he nor Mokuba have foraging skills.

Or, in short: Type 1 diabetic suddenly finds himself stranded without supplies or medical care. Water, heat, and meat are plentiful. After some amount of time, a bunch of Kuriboh become available to bring them various Monster World fruits, and I can fudge the details on those as needed.

Question 1: What kind of time frame am I looking at, here? About how long before Yugi starts developing complications? How long would I realistically be able to stall for dramatic tension before fruit stops being enough to bring him back around? While I don't want to kill Yugi, I don't want to make things convenient, either.

Question 2: I was already planning to have Yugi be exhausted when the PCs showed up, since he's spent almost a week near-constantly expelling energy in order to protect civilians. He isn't sleeping, and only 'wakes up' long enough to eat. The Dark Magicians are lending him their energy, but there's a lot of people to protect. I assume that adding a lack of insulin on top of that is not going to do him any favors. What kind of condition is he likely to be in when the PCs find them? Is it completely unrealistic to have him in bad shape, but conscious and mostly-coherent? Or should he have gone into seizures and/or coma by this point? Am I going to have to reduce my time frame if I want him to be able to talk to the PCs?

Question 3: What kind of long-term effects could come out of this? If all goes well in the scenario, the PCs should get everyone back into the Human World soon, at which point Yugi will be hospitalized right away. Is this incident likely to cause any lingering damage that I should keep in mind and do further research on?

4) Is it possible for the meditative state to have any effect on his condition? Maybe that's a silly question but I'm curious.