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BBC America (ended 2013)

Official Episode Discussion: A Day to Give Thanks 1x09

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    TesserT

    [1]Oct 9, 2012
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    Please use this thread to discuss the episode A Day to Give Thanks (Oct 14). Enjoy!
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    boom-moo

    [2]Oct 15, 2012
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    Wow, McGuire bedding Corky's wife and Ellen killing Maggie? I really didn't see that coming What for them three now? Going by the preview Ellen remains in Corky's house, looks like it's gonna be an interesting finale.
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    Plot_lines

    [3]Oct 16, 2012
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    What drug were they giving Ellen (after McGuire put her in the institution and the institution sedated her)? Captions isn't working here, and I couldn't make it out from the actor's spoken lines. There are lots of things that could have kept her sedated, but its a real short list for drugs that would sedate and be:
    1 Available back when
    2 That would deeply sedate for months but not likely kill as a result
    3 Leave the doctor unsure if she would recover, ever, and ever come to her right self
    4 Allow her to take in food and water long term while remaining sedated - but not choke on them - no side effect of pneumonia, no massive weight loss or dehydration
    5 Cause seizures on withdrawal - but not seizures that needed to be stopped (Corky just asks Annie to hold Ellen's legs)
    6 Been known to be used on men in the battlefield, then had those same men withdraw in the tents where Corky would have seen them enough to be very familiar with the process
    7 That would leave her initially sitting straight ahead for days- vacant gaze, no shaking. Even if the doctor is giving her reduced dosages to taper her off.
    Just puzzled. Thanks!
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  • Avatar of boom-moo

    boom-moo

    [4]Oct 16, 2012
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    Plot_lines wrote:
    What drug were they giving Ellen (after McGuire put her in the institution and the institution sedated her)?
    I couldn't make that either so checked the captioning. It says: Hydrargyri Chloridum. Hope it helps.
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  • Avatar of Plot_lines

    Plot_lines

    [5]Oct 17, 2012
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    Thanks! That helps a great deal.
    So rather than finding Ellen coming off what modern day readers would consider a "high", the Hydrargyri Chloridum (aka Calomel) "high" Ellen was coming off was instead a toxic reaction to a poison. More so than the "all drugs are poison" kind of deal. It would of had more to do with the "blood letting is great medicine" level of health care of their times than the "lets all feel wonnnnnnderful" current concept of an altered state. Highly popular as an all purpose medicine in Corky's day, Calomel had many effective uses, including de-lousing and treating syphilis. Effective and toxic were interlaced, of course. Easy to read home care manuals of the day suggested that parents of cranky teething babies lance the little ones gums (to "let out" the pain causing whatever) and follow that up with dosing with Calomel until the child salivates. Now-days, we know that salivation is a symptom of the acute stage of mercury poisoning (Calomel was derived from mercury). Calomel is emetic, and laxative. The overall result of giving it to a teething baby until they salivated, was a badly dehydrated (and frighteningly toxic) child, who would definitely be quieter. So quiet that statistics for reaction are "a 1 in 10 death rate". It would seem that this kind of association would be noticed pretty quickly, but at the time, Calomel was called "The Samson of medicine", and parents attributed the fatalities to other causes. Its hard to believe, but then, so was blood letting "treatment". Clearing the body of the fluids etc. was seen as starving the invading illness of its food, and thus beneficial to the patient. Given this background, whether the asylum believed that Ellen was suffering from some illness that needed to be starved of its food, or that she needed to be calmed in the manner of treating a cranky teething child, at the time Calomel would have been one of the drugs her clinician would have considered beneficial. Corky would have encountered Calomel as it was used externally on wounds. It was as toxic to invading wound bacteria as it was to the soldier with the sore. This show certainly highlights the fact that our ancestors lived in frightening and dangerous times.
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  • Avatar of boom-moo

    boom-moo

    [6]Oct 17, 2012
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    Wow, nice insight, thank you
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