Trible (tamtrible) wrote in little_details,

Death from gallstones? Also, a necklace

time: 1923, place: US, probably East coast, within a state or 2 of New York.
search terms: gall bladder death (history OR historical OR ww1 OR "turn of the century")

I'm trying to kill my (roleplaying) character's mother. Mom died when my character was 8. Her family is very wealthy, so lack of medical care, or doctors generally considered incompetent (at the time), aren't likely to be an issue. I'd prefer a death that would predispose my character to becoming a surgeon--that is, a death that a competent surgeon could probably have prevented. The mother is 26 at the time of her death, and wasn't in particularly ill health until her actual death, though she was thin and not very active.

The ideal scenario, overall, is about thus: she's "feeling poorly", a doctor is called, the doc examines her, and basically says "It's probably just female troubles, call me if it doesn't go away in a few days", but then she dies the next day (or possibly later the same day, or 2 or 3 days later, I'm flexible on the exact time within that range). I also want her talking to my character shortly before her death (as in, within minutes, or at most an hour)

A friend suggested her gallbladder. Rupture from gallstones, I presume, unless there's something else your gallbladder can do that would kill you fairly suddenly. Unfortunately, the websites I'm finding are assuming that you're, you know, getting surgery or other appropriate medical care for your about-to-explode gall bladder, rather than just dying.

What I'd like to know is:
1. Could a competent doctor of that era misdiagnose gallstones as "female troubles", and if not, what relatively harmless diagnosis would fit better? (I'd like her to die at home, unexpectedly)

2. What would my character, who was 8 at the time, likely remember (medically speaking) about her mother's death? (keeping in mind that my character is interested in medicine, and thus might remember things other kids wouldn't) Other than "She was in a lot of pain" and (if I understand correctly) "It got better for a bit, just before she died".

Also, if her gall bladder won't kill her the way I want, what would?

As a minor side question, I need a necklace.
search term: victorian children's jewelry
My character has a necklace that her mother gave her. It's one that her mother was given as a child (I'm assuming Victorian-era jewelry will be the right age for my character's mom to have owned it as a child), though it needs to be large enough that an adult can still wear it. I suppose I could have her switch the pendant to a larger chain, if necessary, however. It needs to be the kind of thing one might actually have given to an 8-year-old child--I'm not entirely clear on what would and wouldn't have been considered suitable, in terms of styles and materials. But I am talking fine jewelry, not costume jewelry or anything. It also needs to be durable enough to last for at least 40 and change years, including about 17 years of nearly constant wearing, with occasional last-memento-of-my-dead-mother clutching.

At least in terms of necklaces, I'm finding mostly pictures of lockets or cameos. I'd prefer something more like a fairly simple pendant with a precious (or at least semiprecious) gem in it. I'm kind of picturing a gem surrounded by that filigree kind of stuff (maybe a bit like this or these or these), though I don't know if those would really fit the setting/era/etc.

Bonus points if it has any connection to Egypt, and/or the goddess Isis, by the way. (The character is for the game Scion, Isis will be her divine parent, by adoption, and she's going to make the necklace into a relic. If you don't understand this bit, don't worry, it's not important to the question.)

So, if anyone has suggestions of either good sites to look at, or probable descriptors (gold vs silver vs other, what gem, etc), I'd appreciate it. But this is just a side note, I wouldn't ask if I wasn't already asking the gall bladder thing, so just what occurs to you...

Answers or period-appropriate resources both appreciated.

Edited to add: Would she have been autopsied? I can't seem to find out how typical autopsies would've been at the time, especially considering her family's wealth. (if I don't get responses because of the question's age, I'll repost as a separate question...)
Tags: 1920-1929, ~jewelry, ~medicine: illnesses to order

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