Would you have survived in the middle ages?

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Jul 17, 2007

Filed under: Random 455 comments

Last weekend one of my gaming buddies and I were talking about surgery. I have surgery coming up this weekend and we were comparing notes. One thing we both realized was that both of us would have died before we were six if not for modern medicine. He had his appendix out at five. My life more or less depends on medication to keep my asthma under control. I’ve had several life-saving trips to the hospital due to severe attacks in my lifetime.

I’ve mused on this sort of thing before, but since we were about to play D&D in a fantasy setting my mind was on it again. In the medieval times people got married at ages that would scandalize us today. They began having sex at a young age, and continued to do so without birth control for their entire lives. Women cranked out babies at an alarming pace, yet the population remained flat. Run those numbers in your head and it becomes clear that people who lived to adulthood where a small minority of the total number of people born. Their lives were bleak, harsh, and filled with death. They died of things that are trivial to fix today.

I wouldn’t have made it. Asthma would have killed me. If that didn’t get me, the infection I had at 20 would have done the job.

My dad would have died six months before I was born.

My mother would have died a few years after I was born.

My friend wouldn’t have made it. He would have died of a burst appendix at five.

I think my brothers and my sister would have made it. (Ignoring the fact that two of them were born after my mother would have died.)

How about you? How long would you have lived in the middle ages? Ignore all the general risks – like typhoid or the plague or cholera – that everyone would have faced in general. Let’s assume you were lucky and missed those. (Unless by some chance you actually DID face one of them in your life.) Also ignore the fact that your deadly injury might have been caused by modern technology, like an auto accident. Just pretend you were trampled by a horse or something. So, given the injuries and illness you’ve faced in your life so far: Did you make it? Would you have survived to your current age?

I don’t want to go on the cart!
I don’t want to go on the cart!

I’m curious to see the responses on this one. If you like, post your results to your blog (I’ll link back) and pose the same question to your readers. If you don’t have a blog you could always use the comment gizmo below. I hear it works pretty good.

(ADDITIONAL: To answer goblinpaladin’s question below, yes. Let’s assume we didn’t die in a flood, or a famine, or get worked to death, or die in a war, or anything else like that. Let’s just go with what’s happened to us in our modern lives. For a lot of us, even that is enough to kill us.)

The tally so far:

On The Cart Pulling The Cart
Shamus Young
Steven Den Beste
Winged Ignorance
Sir Sefirot
Jag Dell
Delta Force Leader
Michael L
Tom Gunn
Doug Brown
Anonymous Botch
Tarous Zars
Space Bumby
Mr. Blue
David H.
Shadow Wolf
Doug Sundseth
Al Billings
Ken Talton
Joe M
Corsair (Don’t be such a baby!)
Mrs T
J Greely
M Hamann
Attorney At Chaos
Raved Thrad
Justin Alexander
Mark Caliber
Clint Memo
Mrs. Who
Matt J
Robin Z
Melfina the Blue
Rev.Dr.Blacky Thanatos Roach
Jennifer Snow
Anh Minh
gomi no sensei (Pulling with gusto!)
Nathan M.
Michael McHenry
Matt P
Segev Stormlord
Dan Morrison
Skeeve the Impossible
Dev Null
Nanja Kang
Osvaldo Mandias
Jack of Spades
Jeremy Bowers
Dave Klecha
Pixy Misa
Purple Library Guy
Paul Arthur

A further thought: I should have made three columns for our list above: On the cart, Pulling the cart, and Beggars. A lot of so-called cart-pullers up there are missing limbs, very ill, blind, or otherwise not up to performing their cart-pulling duties.


From The Archives:

455 thoughts on “Would you have survived in the middle ages?

  1. Winged Ignorance says:

    I don’t think I would have made it. There were complications with my birth, such as the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck. In addition, I became extremely ill shortly after birth. I think that alone would have done it.

    If I had somehow survived through those, I think I would have survived. Breaking an arm and 6 and a leg at 8 would have probably left me a useless cripple, though. Couple that with poor eyesight, and… yep. Blind AND lame.

    1. David A Wesely says:

      Born six weeks premature was almost enough to kill me in 1945. I would never even have been baptized or named. My mother survived, but I was the only child my father ever got, and he was the first son of the first son of the first son, so there would have been an interesting struggle over who got to inherit the family farm…

      1. Jackson Killips says:

        I was 4 weeks, but I was healthy and probably would have been fine, except that i was born through c-section. Assuming I lived.. I’ve had a few injuries but not any that would have killed me. I would be fine. As the younger child of a pair of twins, I would have probably been trying to find an apprenticeship right now at 15.

  2. Knastymike says:

    I nearly bit my tongue off when I was too young to remember. An oral surgeon had to repair it. If that wouldn’t have finished me off in the middle ages, I cut my thumb down to the bone in high school. I had to get a couple of stitches.

    Theoretically, the could have cauterized my tounge and amputated my thumb. I’d be mute and short a major digit (on the non-primary hand, thankfully), but I’d probably be alive, maybe?

  3. Ingvar says:

    It’s even chances in my case. I would probably have died of the burn I got at age 4-or-so, but I’d probably not have had taht burn without the combination of thermos flasks and kitchen ladders.

  4. Robin Z says:

    Two words: testicular torsion. At best we’re talking eunuch.

  5. phlux says:

    My brother was born breech, or would have been if he hadn’t been delivered via c-section. So there’s a good chance my mother wouldn’t have survived to give birth do a second child (me). Assuming she did, I think I would have done OK. Never any major illnesses or injuries. A propensity for really bad ingrown toenails might have hobbled me, but my guess is that in those times you just suffered through it, or your feet would eventually just harden up. Surgery fixed mine.

    Other than that I think I’d have been OK. 20/20 vision helps. I think a lot of people that are nearly blind would find life difficult in the middle ages. It makes you wonder how natural selection didn’t already weed out bad eyesight and a lot of these genetic disorders. Must be regressive traits, otherwise you’d think the dark ages would have straighted that out.

  6. Robyrt says:

    I’d have made it relatively unscathed – never been admitted to a hospital after birth, no serious illnesses – and probably even my allergy to mold would have been less pronounced in, say, southern France.

  7. Brandon says:

    Comment about the whole “sex without birth control, pumping out babies”. Production of eggs varies with health. Women were far less healthy and often malnourished and hungry. This means that they would be having periods and producing eggs much more slowly. So rather than having babies every 9 months they might be “lucky” to have a baby every few years. It was probably the rich and nobility who were having most of the babies, taking in women as concubines and consorts and keeping them healthy, with many bastard children. The general populace no doubt did have many children, but they wouldn’t have been healthy enough to be a factory rolling over every 9 months.

    1. Jennifer says:

      Not to mention they didn’t have formula back in the middle ages and women probably exclusively breastfed for longer than we do now. That will delay your period and ovulation as well.

  8. anonymous coward says:


    I feel for you robin, i had a benign cyst on one of my testes, and from how i was describing the pain, they thought it was torsion.

    Like a doc marten to the sack with every step i took. >_

  9. Shamus says:

    Brandon: I agree. Not every 9 months. (Even healthy women don’t usually become fertile again until about the time they stop nursing.) But if she starts at 15 and keeps making babies until 40, and only has one every two years, that’s still 12 babies. For the population to remain flat, ten of them have to die.

  10. Anh Minh says:

    Hard to say. There is no precise incident I can pinpoint and say “Yep, that’d have killed me”.

    Complicated birth, but a competent physician might have been able to deal with it. (Then again, how much of the population had access to one?)

    I had childhood diseases like everyone, but I don’t know if they’d have been fatal.

    However, my health isn’t that good now, and my eyesight is very bad. (Probably made worse by modern stuff like late night reading and computers, though.)

  11. anonymous coward says:

    hmmm, my attempt at an in-pain emoticon broke the comment box.

    And if, in our hypothetical middle ages scenario, i didnt die of that, or an infection from doctors poking around in there, i’d probably have died of athsma.

  12. Remus says:

    I would have made it to six. I cracked my face open when I as a kid. I probably would have bled to death or it would have gotten infected.

  13. Osc says:

    Reposted – and put me on the deader cart: appendectomy at 6.

  14. BriScan says:

    I’d have died during birth (taking my mother with me!).

  15. Ben says:

    I think in medieval times, it would have been even less socially acceptable for a man to leave the priesthood, and similarly for a woman to leave the convent. I would never have been born at all.

  16. Arthur says:

    I would have been survived, my mother wouldn’t have – I was born by caesarian.

  17. Christopher says:

    This a rather morbid discussion don’t you think? I’m alive, I think. Other than a few childhood injuries and illnesses, and with a little luck, I’d be pulling that cart.

  18. phlux says:

    I sometimes think about how awesome it would be to go back in time to the dark ages with a truckload (wagonload?) of science textbooks ranging from elementary to college.

    Naturally I would bring back some modern weaponry also to protect myself from witchburners and High Inquisitors attempting to silence my blasphemy.

    if successful I would be able to cure diseases, kickstart modern technology and avoid many of the early pitfalls like getting sucked into fossil fuels and whatnot.

    Could the world absorb that pace of change? Would it overpopulate itself in a matter of decades? Would it deforest the planet attempting to house the masses? I think if you could control the population growth and avoid the guillatine you’d be OK and the world would avoid 800 years of science as heresy.

    1. Zak McKracken says:

      I guess you’d be percieved as just another manic preacher… why believe you and your “books” of “science”?
      … just try and go into some of the more science-averse communities in the world today and teach them — that’s really really hard, even more so when you’re talking to people who’re just barely scraping by anyway.

      Also, most of the stuff in textbooks, even the really practical ones, is so reliant on today’s industrial, technical and social infrastructure that you’d have a hard time even finding stuff that’d be appliccable.

  19. Alex says:

    I wouldn’t have been able to be born at all – my mother fractured her pelvis aged 20, and all her children have thus had to be born by C-section.

    But, assuming that I managed to be born (somehow), I’d be alive, but deaf. I had really bad ear infections as a child, including rupturing my eardrum twice. I had a minor greenstick fracture of my wrist when I was 8, but it would have healed up anyway. I also had a pretty visually impressive car accident last summer, but had no actual lasting injuries from that, although maybe that’s due to the anti-inflammatories they gave me in hospital; I really don’t know.

    So, alive, but less well. Much less well. Oh, and kiss goodbye to my education, too.

  20. Locri says:

    Like you, barring the whole mother thing (my Mom had two close calls before I was born, the second one was a barn collapsing on her two weeks before I was due O_O) I would have survived.

    I haven’t had any major health issues, the only thing I’d have to worry about is my eyesight… it’s not that good, but I could survive without glasses.

  21. Sir Sefirot says:

    I’m not certain that I would be alive. First, there’s a chance that I would have died during birth (caesarian), and then at age 6 I had a quite serious bronquitis. Not life-menacing serious, but again, there were no antibiotics back then… So I guess I would be on the cart.

  22. Hmm. Are we also assuming we are all members of the upper class, or at least wealthy middle-classers and can therefore afford some chap to set bones and so forth? The life of a ‘peasant’ is drastically shorter than that of a nobleman, if only because being worked to death is a good way to die younger. Also, women: are we ignoring the risks of childbirth?

    Given all that, I’d probably be still alive (at 23). I’m short-sighted and prone to mental health issues, though, so unless I’m a member of the clergy or a banker’s son I may have been killed for being a useless git. I also had a greenstick fracture in my right arm as a child which may have impaired my physical abilities somewhat.

  23. gomi no sensei says:

    You may have been okay after all, Shamus. Asthma is in part an overreaction of the immune system when it doesn’t have enough to fight. Yours would have had plenty to fight back then.

    Nothing that happened in my modern life would’ve killed me back then. I’ve never needed surgery and haven’t gone to the doctor for the bones I’ve broken. I have perfect vision, good tooth enamel, and a sturdy immune system. So I would have stood a chance at least.

  24. RedHillian says:

    I died in childbirth, killing my mother as well. That’s not a nice thought really.

    I was born after complications via an emergency cesearean, then spent a while in an incubator.

    Anything beyond that is moot, but I’d have most likely survived, although there’s been a couple of sets of antibiotics to clear infections in the last 30 years, any one of which could have done for me if it had got really bad, but not so likely.

  25. Oh, wait, I forgot: I had a severe bacterial infection in my chest at 20. *snap* That probably would have killed me, or at least developed into pneumonia…which would have killed me. Or at least left me with weak lungs, and something *else* would’ve killed me.

  26. Hanov3r says:

    I also had the cord wrapped around my neck at birth, which would have possibly killed me (it’s also possible that, in a community that’s used to assisting livestock give birth, something like that would have been dealt with via some deft handwork). Assuming I survived that, I’d likely still be alive – chicken pox at 9 and a couple of broken fingers and a broken nose (all at the age of 35 – those medieval combat sports will do you in!) are the worst that’s happened to me.

  27. When I was about three I got stomach flu really bad and couldn’t keep anything down. As a result I got severely dehydrated and was nearly comotose.

    I spent three days in the hospital on intravenous fluids. Without that I would have died.

  28. Marmot says:

    Well, seconding Cristopher’s comment as a necessity (but it is still a subject we do have to face once, that I agree)…

    My father is an engineer and my mother is a doctor, if that counts. I was born prematurely, about a bit less than a month early. This in itself is dangerous but not a certain death. For example, as said here…

    “In the 1950s and 1960s, approximately half of all low birth weight babies in the US died. Today, more than 90% survive.”

    – so – 30%? It might be dangerous, but it is a solid chance and not a wall like “roll initiative. you die”.
    Seeing how I was born prematurely I suffered from undescended right testicle. This was “fixed” by a surgery.

    “Undescended testicle – The condition affects approximately 30% of baby boys who are born prematurely and about 3% of newborn boys who are carried to term.
    In about half of the cases, undescended testicles move down on their own by the baby’s first birthday. If this doesn’t happen, it’s important to get treatment because testicles that remain undescended can hurt the child’s fertility down the line.”

    -> this one is not fatal, it just increases chance of infertility.
    Later I was maybe sickly in general, but I never at all had any life threathening disease or close to it, never broke anything or suffered more than a moderate bruise, etc., and never had to take any medications more serious than a herbal tea with honey. So unless 70% chance of not getting through the early birth counts as fatal, I guess I’d be pulling the cart just fine.

    Even after writing this I will be questioning my own honesty and fortitude after the conclusion. But it’s a thing we all have to come to grips with sometime in our lives. I am glad to be living today, that is all.

  29. Redguy says:

    Pulling the cart. Guess that my minor epilepsy would make me beggar or village idiot, but not dead. Apart from that, I’m enjoying pretty good health.

  30. Jag Dell says:

    I would have died of tetanos, got a small rock embedded in my chin after a nasty fall when I was 7.

    Apart from that I’m healty as an Ox. No allergies and no Asthma. I would probably have made it pretty far up the life expectancy chart.

  31. talorina says:

    Me, dead of pneumonia at 4. My sister, dead of bronchitis at 10 months. That’s a 50% survival rate among me and my siblings.

  32. Katy says:

    I got chicken pox when I was three, but only because my mother decided that my older sister should “give it to me” since it’s easier to get over when you’re young, apparently. I doubt she would’ve let my sister anywhere near me if we were living in the medieval era. Barring that, I’ve never had any major illness or accident. I broke my wrist once, but that’s not life-threatening.

    My mother probably would’ve died before I was born, but that assumes that tuberculosis was rampant in medieval times. I don’t *think* it was, so I’ll assume she didn’t catch it. My dad is like an ox, no worries there.

    I’ll have to say, “Pulling the Cart!”

  33. JohnW says:

    I was blind as a bat (thank you, LASIK). Don’t think I would have made it.

    The ~50% child mortality rate is, imo, the best argument against some of the more luddite environmentalists.

  34. Nathan M. says:

    Pulling the cart.

    An uncomplicated birth, no major illnesses, and no surgeries (yet) as of 35…

  35. Michael McHenry says:

    I turned out to be a really healthy guy, and probably would have lived, but so many mundane things can be deadly.

    My tooth enamel is incredibly ineffective. With modern dental hygene, I still had a root canal at 14 and many many other cavities. I’m sure it wasn’t uncommon to die from an abcess.

    When I was 29, I had a prostate infection(bacterial) and the flu(viral) at the same time. Even with antibiotics, that experience completely redefined my concept of hell. I might have survived that, but I don’t want to imagine how much worse that could have been.

    And, I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 7. And – possilby most dangerously – I’m hard wired to reject authority and convention.

  36. Rollie says:

    I’d have possibly died at 19 of an infected pilonidal cyst. I supposed I’ll just hedge my bet and say “on the cart”.

  37. Erik says:

    I suffered from severe asthma when I was very young, so that would put me on the cart. If gomi no sensei is right, though, that asthma would not have been such a problem in the middle ages, then I might well have lived– easy birth, never broken a bone or had anything worse than a cold in the head.

  38. Ryan says:

    Being a medievalist at heart, I’ve thought about this kind of thing quite a bit over the years.

    I’ve never had any major illnesses. I’ve never had any broken bones (or the like) that could have led to an infection.

    I joke that my Constitution score must be around 16 or 17.

    Actually, despite the danger, living then would have been a good way of keeping my weight at a fit level!

  39. -Chipper says:

    I had a severe laceration to my thigh when I was ~10 (12 stitches), but provided I survived any infection, I guess I’d still be here. So what are the chances? Roll a d20 & let’s see!

  40. Zak says:

    I’d have been just fine. However, I’d have had teeth like the rest of them brits! That’d probably be the only real downside to growing up in the 15th/16th centuries for me.

    Interesting topic sir!

  41. clodia says:

    I would be alive, but for no good reason.

    I was allergic to milk as a kid, and my allergic reaction was blockage in my ears until I was deaf. I had tubes in them twice.

    Also, I have horrid eyesight. My first doctor told me that I would be blind by the time I was 16. Thanks to some (apparently experimental) treatment, I am not blind and am fully functional.

    In the middle ages I would have been blind and deaf by the time I was supposed to get married. I would either have been a complete drain of resources or left on a cliff to wander off.

  42. Galenor says:

    I woulda copped it at about 14 – something got stuck in my appendix and was causing appendicitus, it woulda blown if it werent for the level of medicine we have today! Makes you appreciative of what we have in our scale of medicinal to a certain degree. :)

  43. Delta Force Leader says:

    Well I would have been a goner. As it is today I almost died when I was about 3 weeks old. Modern medicine barely saved me. Would I have survived in the Middle Ages…NOT A CHANCE!

  44. SimeSublime says:

    I’d definitely be on the cart. I turned blue 8 hours after birth, and had had open heart surgery twice before my first birthday. Huzzah for modern medicine.

  45. Falafel says:

    I have never been to a hospital in my life, but then again I haven’t even reached the venerable age of twenty yet, so who knows what would happen if I live longer than that.

  46. Deathblade_penguin says:

    I, like many others, would have probably died with the old appendicities. It hit me so hard when i was 15/16.. that it actually burst whilst the surgeon was removing it on the table. I wonder what percentage of the population got taken away with that sort of thing.

    Plus as a child, I seemed to catch illness very easily and suffered from all the childhood ones..

    put me on the cart, Shamus.

  47. Gus says:

    Appendicitis at 8. Turned so septic that even with modern medicine (in the early 80’s) I lost part of a kidney.

  48. Jeremiah says:

    I’m pretty sure I’d be alright. I’ve had a few ingrown tonails in my life, but to be fair they usually came about from me clipping at my nails too much with clippers, so that probably wouldn’t have happened. I dislocated my knee once, but I can’t imagine relocating it would’ve been too much for a doctor back then (if so, i guess amputation could have been an option). Only longterm illnesses I’e had are chicken pox and mono.

  49. Jessie says:

    Hard to say.

    I was a breech birth, and they were going to do a C-section, but I was too fast for the doctors.

    Ran into a window when I was two or so, and needed stitches on my eyebrow, but it’s doubtful that would have been fatal.

    Possibly tetanus, though. Almost took the tip of my finger off about a year and a half ago–I damaged the nerves and I still don’t have full feeling in it, possibly never will. Sliced through the meaty part of the pad but didn’t quite go all the way through, so the doctor just folded it back over and taped it shut to heal. Mind you, I may not have got tetanus, and if I’d avoided other infection I probably would have been all right, though my finger would be more of a mess than it is now.

    Had some problems with asthma when I was younger. I seem to have grown out of it, or my lungs are stronger, or something. Dunno what that’s about. Still might not have died; it was never very severe, compared to some people.

    My superpower is the ability to avoid serious injury. I can think of several times in my life where, if there were any justice, I should have been hurt badly, but somehow managed to not be. I don’t get it.

    Of course, I’m also something like 20/200 without my glasses, and without them, it’s entirely possible I would have receieved a serious injury due to that.

    My next-oldest sister definitely would not have made it. She would have died before her first birthday. Failure to thrive, as they say. The doctors never knew why, and she almost died anyway before they managed to get her to start gaining weight after being on an IV for ages. My father talks, sometimes, about how very small she was when they finally released her from the hospital; she looked about half her age.

  50. Mari says:

    Put me on the cart too. If I had survived three bouts of chicken pox and countless infections, I probably would have died a lingering, painful death to kidney stones. Or if the death had been lingering enough, I could have gone on to die in childbirth with my last kid.

    Well, I would have done except my husband would have either died or been paralyzed from the waist down before I ever got to meet him which would probably put a crimp in my baby-making.

    I also would have spent my twenty short years of life with one eye rolling randomly around in my head.

  51. I think I would be pull’n the cart :D

    I’m almost 19 and have had a pretty healthy life.
    The closest I’ve come to death would have been when I fell in the river when I was a kid. My mom pulled me out and took me to the hospital, but they didn’t need to do anything, so I would have been fine any way.

  52. arlani says:

    I probably would have made it, and more than likely, my older child would have been OK (though he was born by c-section). I’d have a pretty nasty scar on my lip, but I don’t recall any other major illnesses or accidents. Of course, antibiotics probably kept some of the potential majors at bay. My 10-month-old daughter, on the other hand, might be dead 3 times over by now. C-Section (rare, but historically possible since Roman era, BTW), streptococcus infection (probably wouldn’t have been as bad in MA, since it was a strain that was only slightly antibiotic resistant thanks to modern medicine), and major bladder infection that may have caused kidney failure if untreated. Baby-girl’s dad wouldn’t have made it out of childhood…

  53. Otus says:

    On the cart from a collapsed lung at 17. Three cheers for medicine!

  54. Martin says:

    Pretty sure I’d have made it, although I don’t know if my
    bout of chicken pox would have been fatal at 10 in the middle

    An interesting statistic that I saw a number of months ago
    on a related topic. Infant mortality was higher than in the
    middle ages compared to today but *mother* mortality was even
    more dramatically higher. A woman had less than a 50% chance
    of surviving 3 child births in the middle ages.

  55. Kevin says:

    I’d have made it to this ripe old age of 37 without too much problem.

    – The one surgery I had was as elective as marriage expects. ;)
    – The other was to have my tonsils removed, and while it was strongly recommended, it wasn’t life threatening (and eating differently would probably have helped as well.

    I’ve had stitches, but no more than 3 at any given spot, which means that the stitches were to prevent bad scarring.

    I would have been bumped by a horse/cart twice, but I’m sure I would have walked away from them (as I did the cars).

    Never a broken bone, but I would probably be missing a few teeth.

    My eye sights the only questionable point, and it’s really not something I notice until after I take my glasses off. One eye is 20/45 or so, the other is 20/80…so neither are near “blind”.

    No major infections other than strep throat….which could have done me in as I ran a high fever, but that’s why man created streams, isn’t it? ;)

    If I weren’t pulling the cart, I’d be directing the traffic.


  56. James Blair says:

    I was born blue from staying too long, though they didn’t have to do anything special to keep me alive. I suppose a medieval society may have freaked out and thrown me on the cart… I lost the tip of one of my fingers, which would be survivable assuming no nasty infections (at worst I’d lose the whole finger). My host of medical problems from being overweight probably would have never happened, and even if they did they’d be pretty close to what a medieval person would call a decent lifespan.

    To use Shamus’ term, I’d probably be some sort of “uncertainty lich”!

  57. Mik says:

    On the cart – big ol’ tumor in my neck at age 2 – though the rest of my family on both sides has been ‘sawbones friendly’ going back to at least the American Civil War (one of the greats or great-greats has his arm shot off with a cannon and went back to farming). Tough Yankees.

  58. VikingMonkey says:

    Hmmm. When I was younger I used to get Bronchitis like clockwork, every year – was that fatal? I suck at history. I now have Crohn’s Disease, so I could possibly be dead from dehydration, or malnutrition I suppose.

  59. Amanda says:

    If I could see where I was going, I would be pulling the cart. Good Italian peasant stock here, but very, very near-sighted.

  60. Rupert says:

    I’d probably be on the cart. At the age of four, I came down with a really bad infection, and at one point my fever spiked to 107 degrees. My parents had to give me ice water and alcohol baths to keep it down while they waited for the penicillin to do it’s thing. If I would have survived, I know I would have had brain damage (hey, now…watch it!)

    But then, at age six, I had a bad case of pneumonia that hospitalized me. No where near as bad, but at that time, it most likely would have been fatal.

    Interesting question, Shamus.

  61. Gary says:

    I broke my leg at the ripe young age of two and a half. Yes, that was 2.5 years on life.

    If I had been in the middle ages I likely would have been a cripple (I required a surgically implanted metal pin in my leg and a long while in traction)

    Being a cripple in modern times is hard enough, but a cripple in those days didn’t have much chance of survival. So unless I had been nobly born, I might not have lasted due to the rigorous nature of life in general and the need to work.

    I also have asthma, like you Shamus, but I think that most cases of Asthma are a modern creation due to all sorts of yummie pollutants, so I’m not sure if I would have had it or not.

    You can mark me down as on the cart… :P

  62. Michael L says:

    Probably would have died at birth – I had to be pulled out. If I’d survived that, meningitis at age 13 would have done me in (taking most of my village with me). Supposing I’d have survived that, my photo-phobia (sensitivity to light) probably would have gotten me labeled a vampire and I’d have died with a stake through my heart!

  63. Rich says:

    I was hit by a car in 1990 and thrown 20 feet head first into the curb. I was in surgery for 22 hours. They removed bone fragments from my brain and rebuilt my skull and right eye socket with teflon and titanium. Not to mention the two later reconstructive surgeries.

    I think that’s pretty simple. I was trampled by ye olde horse and my skull was crushed at the age of 31. RIP, me. ;)

    P.S. I’m doing much better thanks.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      But you would have lived to 31, right? That’s well into reproductive maturity!

  64. Nilus says:

    Despite my less then stellar fitness level(I could stand to lose several pounds), I think I would be pulling the cart. Despite a few trips to the ER as a kid and adult I have never needed stiches, never broken a bone(although I have had a few nasty sprains, but they all healed up fine), never needed surgery, Never been seriously ill. Unless chronic Heartburn would kill me I think I would be pulling that cart.

  65. Janneh says:

    Pulling the cart!

  66. Dan says:

    I wouldn’t have survived the 1950s, much less the middle ages.

  67. Lars says:

    I have to say that I’d probably be ok, I’ve been fairly healthy most of my life without any brushes with death myself.

  68. Matt P says:

    I would have made it. I’m pretty lucky medically speaking except a minor allergy to bees. I was stung once but it only cause a whole lotta swelling; nothing life-threatening.
    Oh, and I got herpes when I was about 3 (not the embarrasing kind, thank all that’s holy) but I don’t think that’s life-threatening. We were road tripping around America (us Australians) and my brother and I just got it. Our parents were worried but every doctor they saw told them there was no need for treatment so I assume we weren’t in any danger.
    Pulling the cart for me, and by the looks of it those guys need the help.

  69. Segev Stormlord says:

    While my mother would have died of complications due to my birth within a few months after it happened, and I have miserably obnoxious allergies which would have made me get a reputation for being “sickly” (any nasal allergy you can name, I have), I’d actually be moderately healthy and still alive.

    The fact that I have vision just slightly better than Mr. Magoo’s without my glasses, though, means I would be effectively blind. Without glasses (or my more commonly worn contacts, since my glasses are literally a quarter of an inch thick), I can see well enough that I won’t run into that blur there which is probably a tree, or a pole, or a wall, but isn’t that blur over there which I think is a person because it’s moving and talking to me.

  70. Janneh says:

    I think the worst illness I suffered as a child was chicken pox. Other than that, no broken boneses or anything serious until adulthood, and since I rarely have medical insurance, I haven’t depended much on modern medicine. I’m a survivor.

  71. guy says:

    Birth related complications involving my heart rate flatlineing might have killed me, but it might have gone away easily. None of my problems since were life threating, but several falls from a bike might have carried risk of infection if it weren’t for anispetic.

  72. Rich says:

    You know, I rushed to write that reply above. Now I’m actually reading the list and thinking about it. I seriously have the chills. Man, Shamus, heavy stuff… But thanks for the perspective, I’m gonna be hugging a lot of people today. Whether they like it or not. :o

  73. Eltanin says:

    Dead: appendicitis at 22.

  74. Ariel says:

    I got my first pair of glasses at age 7. At 42, my nearsightedness is such that things start blurring at 2″ away. Then there was the virus that drove my temperature up to 106 degrees when I was ten. If the virus didn’t kill me, the nearsightedness would’ve.

    I would’ve been on the cart.

  75. My life would be quite different no doubt. As mentioned, Allergies have been shown to be more common among those who did not grown up on the farm or in such conditions as existed in the “dark” ages. However even with growing up on the farm my parents still both developed strong hay fever. Thats a toss up then as to how well I’d be doing. My tonsils and adnoids were also removed in 3rd grade in assosiation with horrible ear infections.

    I’d be alive, may even be healthy, but I’d likely be deaf.

  76. Joe says:

    Some things aren’t as deadly as one might think… I was a breech birth three weeks overdue, and my mother had me natural (only thing the doctor gave her was O2). If I had been born today, it would have been a C-section, because no doctor would take the risk of letting a mother do a natural breech birth. Different times, different risks. In the middle ages, C-sections did exist, and they did have a high mortality rate, but it’s not quite a certain death sentence (well, except for the mother… that was pretty deadly until fairly recently)

    I remember reading somewhere about an analysis of the death rate vs. age throughout history. It’s true that the average person in modern industrial society has an average lifespan of about 80 years, but way back when the average was more like 40, but the devil is in the details. The big difference between then and now was a huge spike in the death rate for those under about 5 years old, and another big spike near 15. If you made it to 6, you had a fair expectation of a long life. If you made it to 16, your life expectancy wasn’t *that* much different than it is today.

    A while back I was visiting a local historic plantation, and wandered around some in the family graveyard, with one families burials dating from the mid-1600’s to last year. The oldest grave there was for a man who died at 98. His son and daughter-in-law’s grave was surrounded by the headstones of their 12 infant to toddler-age children.

    As for me, I’ve had one reasonably significant surgery (like Rollie, a pilonidal cyst at around 20). That would have been a high risk, but I don’t believe it would have been an automatic death sentence. So I think the phrase is “I’m not dead yet!”… well, maybe I am…

  77. quadir says:

    made it barring any plagues.

  78. On the cart or made an invalid. Scarlet Fever at age 5.

  79. Rob says:

    If you look at this document, you’ll see that life expectancy in The United States was only 47.3 years in 1900 (scroll down to Table 12).

    So, anyone here older than that (me, that is) is on borrowed time, even compared to this country a hundred years ago.

    But, I haven’t had any drastic health interventions so far, so perhaps I would have made it. I guess I count as pulling the cart, but I probably would have died of old age by now back in the Middle Ages.

  80. Joel says:

    I’d be dead. Appendix for me as well. If it hadn’t been for that though I would have lived.

  81. Tom Gunn says:

    Pneumonia would have gotten me when I was 6. I spent 10 days in a hospital under an oxygen tent.

    It is possible you might not have gotten asthma if you were alive in the middle ages. I’ve seen theories about the rise of asthma and allergies being cause by our current hygiene standards and lack of exposure to microbes causing our immune system finding something else to fight. *shrug* just a supposition.

    There is a educational card set meant for school teachers that occasionally gets around SCA circles where you draw one and it says what would have happen to you in the middle ages. I think 9 out of 10 died before getting out of childhood. I can’t find any info with a quick search but there is something out there.

  82. Gary says:

    Oh wait! I completely forgot the 5 times that I’ve had pneumonia!!!!!!

    I’d be dead 5 times over! Not only am I on that cart, I qualify for my own cart! :)

  83. SongCoyote says:

    I likely would have made it, but I’d likely be lame in one leg due to an injury I got when I was about 8 or 9. I’d likely be a blacksmith or something like that :)

  84. Althanis says:

    Pulling the cart… My right thumb wouldn’t be able to grip anything, but I’d still be a-kickin’

  85. Cradok says:

    Let’s see… I poked myself in the eye with a sharp stick as a child, that’s loss of the eye at least; dislocated thumb and cut through the eyebrow to the bone would probably have been survivable; testicle tortion when I was 17, dead or a eunuch; glandular fever at 18 would probably have offed me; and if that didn’t, the pneumonia last year would have defininitely done it…

    And even if that hadn’t done it, I’d have been pretty useless with my mild athsma and shortsightedness…

  86. Alex says:

    I’d probably be deaf (or at least hearing impaired) due to frequent childhood ear infections, my wisdom teeth would have scrambled my teeth around a bit(but really, who wouldn’t have bad teeth then?), my vision would be uncorrected (but in the days before driving and universal literacy, what needs to be seen clearly anyway?), and my birth might have killed my mother (and hence younger brother), but I would probably have been fine.

    So, probably pulling the cart.

  87. Shamus says:

    Note about my asthma: I was wheezing about five days after I was born. It wasn’t caused by pollution, or lack of things for my immune system to fight. I was too young. Mine is genetic.

    Some people believe that astha is “caused” by something modern, because it’s so much more common today. But the answer is more simple: My sort of asthma is inherited. People that had it usually didn’t live long enough to reproduce. Now we’re able to grow up and have kids, so there are more of us.

    The allergy-driven asthma is a bit different. Many people can grow right out of it, and it might not be inherited.

  88. BlueFaeMoon says:

    Assuming there was a competent midwife at the helm during my birth, and I survived my mother’s difficult labor (doc had to extract me with forceps) then I might have snuffed it when I was 10 and contracted chicken pox. If I survived that, I would have most likely died at age 12 from a severe bronchial infection. Then I would have been fine (but completely deaf) until I was 18 and died of a mysterious infection and super high fever (that was a week in hell I don’t want to redo!).
    So I’m sure I would be on the cart. Eventually.

  89. Doug Brown says:

    I probably would have been exposed or something. Sign me up for the cart.

  90. Anonymous Botch says:

    I, luckily, have had no major illnesses, or even broken bones. However, I reckon I would be on the cart, being severely short sighted, I doubt I would have got past my teens before being mown down by a horse or falling in a well. Without distinctly post-medieval spectacles I can can make out fuzzy blobs and thats it. Not life threatening in itself, but its so hard to avoid dangers you can’t see. And what work could I hvae done? Its the monastry or begging for me, if I was lucky.

  91. Kalle says:

    I had a pretty severe case of pneumonia when I was 20 which actually made me think “this could have KILLED me” if it hadn’t been for the virtues of penicillin. That said, pneumonia wasn’t always fatal back in the middle ages and it’s possible that I might have pulled through so I give myself a 50/50 chance of survival. My near-sightedness could be cured with medieval glasses. A luxury item for sure, but so was books, and reading or otherwise staring intently at tiny things for long periods of time is the major cause of near-sightedness.

    I’d probably be down a fair number of teeth and walking around with a miserable toothache since I just had a root canal done last week, but otherwise I’ve been perfectly healthy.

  92. Dan Morrison says:

    Slightly disfigured and mostly crippled, and at the grand age of 34 probably a grand-dad past my use-by date, but I think I survived.
    Near-death accident at 2 (a washing machine fell on me) turned out not to have done any damage, so assuming the sawbones back then did nothing useful (instead of the ‘exploratory’ surgery I got here) I’d have ended up OK.

    As of two years back I have a big metal clamp in my ankle, so I can only imagine I’m a bookkeeper or a begger. Certainly not pushing any cart, but I’ll limp along, one leg dragging trying to keep up with it.

  93. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    I would still be alive, but my life would be uncomfortable and crappy. I had a hernia operation back in december. In the middle ages I would of just had to tough it out like I had been over the previous few years. But yeah I am pullin the cart.

  94. Alexis says:

    Con 16. Nothing more severe than chicken pox and gastroenteritis my whole life, thanks be to anyone/thing involved. Some myopia, probably caused by reading. I’d be fine, probably would have dodged Osgood-Schlatters Disease (growing pains) due to malnutrition.

    Luddites… unfathomable. I party with a lot of them, damn hippies, the Dark Ages are some kind of idyll of self-sufficiency and freedom to them. Hello, DARK ages?

  95. BlackJaw says:

    Huh. I’d be and mostly ok.

  96. MintSkittle says:

    I’m pretty sure I would have died from asthma if I didn’t bleed out from a facial wound at the age of three. I’m probably on the cart.

  97. Dev Null says:

    Alive… and about as useful as a collander at a beer-drinking competition. With my remarkable natural ability to focus my eyesight out to at least, oh, 6 or 8 inches, I’d be pulling the cart, but not steering.

    I think the eyesight thing is similar to your take on inherited asthma Shamus; too many nearsighted dweebs surviving to breeding age these days who never would have made it in the bad old days. I had a friend who was an ambulance driver who described his job as a “Crusader against Darwin; fighting to keep the selected against alive.”

  98. Maia says:

    I would have made it, I only got the chicken pox because at age 4 I was made to all but lick my little cousin who got it. I’ve never had strep throat or an ear infection, never even had a fever… But then again, my dad was born in a mountain village in northern Iran, his mother had 13 live births and only 5 survived to adulthood (and three were born after they got to Israel), they had no medical care, they boiled their own water and milk, etc. so maybe I had a running start?

  99. Guy says:

    I would have made it either by luck or the grace of God, depending on your viewpoint. I have never had any serious injuries or illnesses, not even any broken bones.

    I did get a concussion once, but it went undiagnosed and untreated so I would have certainly survived it then as well.

  100. Vykromod says:

    I once got hospitalised for what looked like appendicitis, but wasn’t. It went away overnight as well. Seeing as this is the most potentially fatal thing that’s happened to me, I think I’d be pulling the cart.

    My teeth would be bizarre, though, as I’ve had orthodontic work done, and I’m more myopic than I care to think, but I’m alive.

  101. Downtym says:

    Verdict: DOA at birth of acute pneumonia.

    Assuming I survived that: Dead at age 1 of pneumonia.
    Assuming I survived that: Dead at age 3 of pneumonia.
    Assuming I survived that: Dead at age 4 of pneumonia.
    Assuming I survived that: Dead at age 6 of pneumonia.
    (Notice a pattern here? At least it’s only turned into chronic, yearly bronchitis instead of oxygen tents.)
    Assuming I survived that: Drowned at age 10.
    Assuming I survived that: Drowned at age 15.

    My parents have commented that I’m like a cat borrowing lives from other cats.

  102. Tarous Zars says:

    Dead at 6. Spinal meningitis.

  103. Rob says:

    Tonsilitis at 2 probably would’ve spread. Plus asthma. Aside from that I’ve been pretty safe.

  104. Jacob says:

    I’d have died at 4 months. I’d have died from Pyloric Stenosis. Which means I’d have literally starved to death because food was blocked from reaching my stomach.

  105. Karen says:

    I had 2 broken bones (both minor) that probably would have healed. I had ‘walking pneumonia’ at 17 — I felt fine but that is potentially fatal. I have no idea how often something like that clears up by itself. After that I’ve been fine. I will tentatively say “pulling the cart” but I could have been taken out by the pneumonia or any number of childhood diseases that I never got because of vaccinations.

    Regarding the mortality levels in the Middle Ages: If you use modern subsistence level cultures as a reference one birth every 4 years seems reasonable (that takes into account natural fertility but with a rather lower nutritional state for the mother). Don’t assume the population was flat. To get a flat line even with the lower fertility you’d be assuming a higher infant/childhood mortality rate than has EVER been observed in any popution. It looks more likely that the population grew but then got knocked back by, say, the Black Death and other major epidemics periodically wiping everyone out. (I’m a biological Anthropology person and catastrophic mortality is one of my special topics).

  106. AJ says:

    Any number of things probably would have killed me off. I’m bipolar, so odds are I might have offed myself given that it wasn’t a particularly cheery time, or I might have gone murderous and been killed…either isn’t good. Then there are the injuries I’ve sustained over the years…so yeah…dead many years ago.

  107. Space Bumby says:

    I didn’t require hospitalization for my low birth weight, and I walked around with pneumonia for a week before I was treated, so I’m thinking those wouldn’t have killed me. I’m far more likely to have died giving birth to a breech-presentation baby; in the medieval era, you just had to push them out the hard way, as opposed to getting a nice C-section like I had (which, as Arlani points out, were possible but rare). So I’m going to say…three close calls puts me on the cart at 22.

  108. DavidS says:

    Born with a collapsed lung and spent 5 days in the ICU, so I wouldn’t have had a chance. If I got past that somehow, I’m diabetic, so that would have taken me out at 16.

  109. Space Bumby says:

    Oh, and Shamus–about the inherited asthma thing: My youngest daughter has it. In her case it’s linked to eczema and triggers very rarely. Her most common trigger is a persistent dry cough, and she isn’t allergic to anything.

  110. John says:

    I would have been one of the lucky ones, I’d say. At my ripe old age of 36 I might have been crippled or killed by one of the many potentially maladies of the time, but nothing in this life that wouldn’t have gotten me through back then.

  111. Mr. Blue says:

    On ye cart I go: I had a pretty bad infection at 10.

  112. Myxx says:

    It’s most likely I’d have made it. I was afflicted with a few ear infections as a kid, but I’m not sure if those are fatal if untreated by modern medicine. My wife would have never made it though, due to several issues in her childhood. So… I’d have potentially been deaf and single. Doesn’t that kinda defeat the point of being deaf?

  113. Spider says:

    I’m pretty sure I’m pulling. I’ve had no surgery. The only time I’ve ever been in the hospital was a reaction to Penicillin, which I never would have been given. Ironically what I was given the medicine for wasn’t the severe. I have allergies, but not severe. I can’t think of a moment when my life was saved by Modern medicine. I think the only real physical change I’d have to my person is a scar on my right arm and missing teeth.

  114. Ysabel says:

    I’d have survived to adulthood, but I doubt I’d have survived to my current 37. Folks dealing with gender dysphoria in centuries past didn’t tend to live long lives, for a variety of reasons.

  115. Deoxy says:

    iffy, here.

    Poor eyesight, but functional at a non-driving level.

    Mild asthma, but never severe enough to need an inhaler, so obviously not a problem.

    Significant ear infections as a child, so I would probably had some hearing problems, but nothing fatal.

    A nasty cut when I was in my young teens requiring 9 stitches – possibly death by infection, but probably not.

    The worst thing I can think of is that I picked up malaria (don’t ask), and malaria kills about a million people a year… but there are literally 10s of millions (or more) that have it and live, and I got it at a relatively healthy age, so probably still not dead.

    No broken bones, good teeth.

    Lots of allergies, but nothing I didn’t survive, anyway.

    Oddly enough, the thing that MIGHT have killed me (most likely of anything) is an infection in my foot recently. It was caught early enough that it’s hard to say, but it’s possible.

    I was born by C-section, but that was because I was running so late, and my mom had still not started labor – in “ye olden days”, they would have just waited until she went into labor, however long that took. Hard to know on that one.

    So, probably pulling the cart, I guess.

    My oldest child, however, would most certainly have died. Actually, she would probably have died as recently as 50 years ago; she was unable to hold down ANYTHING for 4 days (roto virus – BAD stuff), and lived on IV bags in the hospital. Definitely would have died, no question – it kills several infants in the US each year even today. I actually thought about that at the time.

  116. Allura says:

    I likely would have died from pneumonia a few years back (it wasn’t a serious case now, but without meds, it could have progressed to kill me). I certainly would have had lousy eyesight. Oh, and the lyme disease could have progressed to cause a heart attack or something as well; no way to be sure on that either.

    My husband would be dead of appendicitis bout 10 years ago, and would have had little to no use of his left arm since he was 10ish.

  117. Cenobite says:

    Pulling the cart, but with a severe limp.

    What amuses me about this morbid experiment is the thought that, a thousand years from now, gamers will be doing the exact same thing. (A thousand years is a fair estimate, since the Dark Age period ended roughly around the year 1000 AD, and we are speculating today about life and conditions back then.) They’ll have a game (or virtual interactive simulation called The Matrix) set in the world of the early 21st / late 20th century. They will wonder how many of them could have survived given the pathetic state of medical technology back then. (No clones to pull organs from! No DNA repair! No nannite surgery! No life extension treatments!) They will sober up when they realize how fortunate they are to be living in the year 3007 with all of its scientific benefits.

    I can almost hear Bones complaining about our “Dark Ages” leech-applicator “medicine” now.

  118. Cadamar says:

    I’d have lived. I’ve never suffered an injury severe enough to kill me and I would’ve recovered from every illness without medical attention. However, my teeth would be a mess (impacted wisdom teeth and a root canal) and a cyst on a tendon sleeve on my right hand would’ve made it difficult to work or hold a sword. Heck, even after the surgery it’d be difficult to hold a sword. And what would be the point to living in medival times if you couldn’t oppress the peasentry with your own blade? (Bloody peasents!)

  119. Jimmie says:

    I think I’d be one of the cart-pullers. NO broken bones, no complications in childbirth. I’m an oldest child, which helps the survivability thing. I did have chickenpox when I was 11, but I’m reasonably sure it wouldn’t have killed me (though it’s possible).

    I’ve had stitches before as a result of childhood tumbles, but none so severe they required much attention (except for the head woulnd I suffered in a car accident..but hey! No car, no head wound. I’m saved!)

    I think I managed to come off pretty lucky. My vision stinks, but I can still see shapes well enough to stab the middle of them. :)

    So, unless the chickenpox puts me on it, I’m in front of the cart.

  120. David H. says:

    I’m on the cart. Asthma could have done it a couple of times, and as a kid I ate pokeweed berries. I don’t remember that hospital stay, but an oxygen tent was involved.

    If by some miracle I’d survived, I’d be in lousy shape with no asthma meds, and even if there was some natural equivalent readily available I’d have a hell of a time finding it without my glasses.

  121. Osc says:

    I reposted you to the SCA LJ group so there are more results there if you are interested.

  122. I’d definitely be pulling the cart. I’m 25, in great shape, never get sick, better than 20/20 vision, (My friends hate me for it) most that would be wrong would be a slight overbite that was fixed dentally. But it is amazing to me just how many people would be on the cart.

  123. dishuiguanyin says:

    Normal birth, no major injuries or illnesses, never visited a hospital in my life, very little dental work done.

    However, in the middle ages it would have been very unusual for a woman my age not to have given birth to several children, and, as has been noted, childbirth was a VERY dangerous pastime until remarkably recently.

    Thus, I’m going to decide that I entered a convent around 16 and by now am well on my way to the prestige, comfort, and riches that came from being a mother superior.

  124. JasonS says:

    On the cart with me!

  125. Nanja Kang says:

    Alive. But I wouldn’t have any teeth… :(
    But I could pull the cart! YAY!!! :)

  126. Katy says:

    Never would have been born — Mom has type 1 diabetes and would have been on the cart at 6.

    Disregarding that, I’d have an interesting scar on my forehead from a fall when I was six, and presuming that didn’t get infected, there was the chicken pox at 13 or the bronchitis at 30 or the breech birth of my son later that year instead of the C-section I actually had. So… not sure if I’m on the cart or not, really. If the chicken pox can be presumed to be a stand-in for some other highly infectious disease… I’m on the cart.

  127. Marmot says:

    Inspired by Crusader Corim’s ideas about how amazing the number is…
    I am actually wondering….is there a statistical correlation or something like that between literate people or people using the Internet and those who would have been pulling the cart?

    I know that we won’t hear from those who are not browsing this; however, there can be 3 obvious conclusions:

    a) most people who post here are sickly/physically weak/would have perished rather early
    b) most people who post here are strong/physically powerful and would not have perished rather early
    c) there is no correllation between the two

    and also a question that has to be asked: seeing how we have a roughly 50:50% ratio, presuming it’s by an average age of 25 or so, how does it compare to the true Medieval situation?

  128. Poet says:

    I would’ve bought it for the same reason as you. Wheezing, slow, boringly annoying death. Even if I survived my asthma, two car accident before I was ten, and being knocked from the second floor of a building to the first would’ve killed me. Actually, that last one DID kill me, so without CPR I’d be wormfeed.
    Throw me on the cart!

  129. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    Medieval Me is still alive and kicking. My vision is terrible, though, but maybe if I’m a peasant or a priest that doesn’t matter so much.

    Also Modern Me has an extremely robust digestive system so maybe Medieval Me would have been more likely to survive those childhood illnesses that we’ve decided to ignore for now.

    Modern Me broke his arm pretty bad when he was a teenageer–I don’t know how that would have changed anything for Medieval Me. I assume they knew how to set bones pretty well.

    Medieval Me has parents who are still living and in fine health, and 6 living brothers and sisters, but one brother is deaf and one brother suffers from a chronic, debilitating ailment and probably lives on charity. Two of his sisters are dead. His wife probably died sometime during her first pregnancy or soon thereafter.

  130. Shadow Wolf says:

    Crohn’s disease would have killed me at 16 – it almost did even with modern medicine, as I was bleeding into my gut (and passed out from blood loss before I was diagnosed).

  131. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    On second thought, I was too sanguine about Medieval Me. Modern Me had a thigh gash that required stitches when I was young and several bouts with strep, one of which required antibiotics. So Medieval Me’s survival is chancy. He’s an Uncertainty Lich.

    Also Medieval Me’s beggar brother is actually dead since infancy.

  132. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    I don’t think women married as early as you are saying, Shamus Young.

  133. I’ve been fortunate enough to never have an injury more serious than a broken finger or an illness more life-threatening than the gout. Medieval Me would probably be in better health than Modern Me, since he’d get more exercise and eat more veggies (and probably not be rich enough to have the gout).

  134. Arson55 says:

    Put me on the cart. Burst appendix in the 4th grade.

  135. Shamus says:

    Osvaldo Mandias: My Tardis is at the shop so we can’t go back and settle the matter. I’m going by anecdotes I’ve heard over the years that ~15 was a perfectly reasonable age for marriage. And really: Why wouldn’t it be? We wait until mid-20’s now because people have to finish school. There was no good reason to wait for 18 in the middle ages. I’m open to counter-evidence, though.

    1. stratigo says:

      Blam 12 years later but there’s still more to say that hasn’t been. A bit of synthesis.

      Right, so, age of marriege/age of actually consumating the marriege. It tends to be much older than pop history tells you as pop history focuses largely on the rich people at the top. To be fair, they also left the most complete records, so young girls getting married extremely young isn’t entirely uncommon for medieval nobility (and would contribute to death, as child bearing in mid teens is deadlier than child bearing later). It would be less common for male members of the family, as they would require some stability in their lives to raise a family, which means some land bequeathed to them or a position maintaining family holdings, or going of to stab some other dude and steal his land.

      On the other hand, for the average european, by which I mean a european making a living farming on a small farm, marriege happens much later. 20s more commonly. Although negotiations could happen earlier. There’s a nexus of space, labor, and inheritance that limits the prospects for the average european peasant farmer. Most homes are not big enough to handle having 5 families all living within them, and there isn’t really many places for your second, third, fourth, or fifth sons to go to (provided they survive long enough to make it). The family is also, essentially, the labor unit, and surrendering a member of it to someone else is weakening your economic position. There has to be a return, else why bother? Finally, who gets the stuff? The more family members you have, the more fighting there will be over who gets the stuff when you die.

      Also, raising small children is expensive, as I’m, sure you know. You wouldn’t be popping them out (and keeping them as opposed to tossing them into the woods to die) until you had some sort of stability, so starting at 15 is extremely illogical for your average peasant farmer. Super young bribes was more a thing of the early modern era as more and more people had the financial security to start to emulate the nobility. It also is around the same time woman’s work got entirely devalued and the concept of woman as nothing but a housewife solidified.

  136. Spider says:

    I posted you on Nerd World Country as well, although I directed them all here, so there shouldn’t be any additional responses over there.

  137. Coyote says:

    I think I would have made it. I’ve had some nasty aches & pains & allergies, but nothing life-threatening, and the only surgery I’ve had has been from the dentist and some exploratory surgery that wouldn’t have been done back in the day.

    Lucky me. I may even make it to the ripe old age of 40, yet!

  138. Gobo says:

    I think Medieval Me would still be alive and kicking at my current 31. Only had a slight skin cancer issue, which would not have killed me quite yet. Might have been starting to spread however, so how much longer I would have survived in medieval times I don’t know.

    Apart from that, no deadly illnesses, nor broken bones. *knock on wood* And after 25 years(!) with computers in various forms, I still don’t even need glasses either.

  139. Jimmy says:

    Let’s see… pseudohemophilia, congentially weakened bones, Crohn’s, cancer…

    I would have been on the cart if I had been born in 1940. I’m also the reason your health-insurance premiums are so high. Sorry.

    In other news, my sister would be dead at six (serious infection). My father has been pretty healthy, but my mother might have starved at 19 when she shattered her jaw. Of course, that point would be moot given that my grandmother was dying of TB as a little girl, and was saved at the last minute by advancing medicial technology.

    I’ve speculated on this before, but pitched it slightly differently: what’s the earliest date you could have been born and lived to your current age? Depending on where you lived, appendicitis wasn’t a death sentence after about 1400 — the surgery was extremely painful, and there was a risk of infection, but surgeons specialized in performing three-minute appendectomies. In my case, though, I’d have died if effective chemotherapy hadn’t been developed — circa 1960.

  140. icekatze says:

    hi hi

    I’ve had surgery twice, but it wasn’t for life threatening reasons. So I wouldn’t be dead exactly, but I’d be a partly disabled wreck that couldn’t work and would probably die in the near future.

  141. Jimmy says:

    [Shamus]We wait until mid-20's now because people have to finish school. There was no good reason to wait for 18 in the middle ages. I'm open to counter-evidence, though.[/Shamus]
    Google answers all.

  142. Coyote says:

    Based on anecdotal evidence, I tend to agree with Shamus on the marriage age thing. Even here in the U.S., many states allow marriage at only 14 (with parental consent).

    Incidentally, the term “spinster” comes from the fact that families often apprenticed off their children very young (like, age 6ish). Girls often went to spin yarn / thread at this age – and an older woman who was still doing this had something wrong with her that made her undesirable, I guess.

  143. Don says:

    Flip a coin. Sometimes hernias remain static for years. Still, even if I’m not on the cart, I wouldn’t be pulling it.

  144. Telophase says:

    The age of first marriage mostly depended on location – city women with more options for work (especially domestic service) married later, while women in the rural areas, where farms needed all the working hands they could get, married earlier. Don’t forget miscarriage and infertility due to malnutrition and infections as factors that helped keep the population fairly low. Wars, too – at times and in places where there were fewer men to go around, there were fewer marriages.

    I get to die in a plague! I had malaria at age 5. We lived in Tanzania at the time, as my dad was a wildlife biologist, but malaria was known in medieval Europe. I might have survived the age-5 case, as it was mild enough that we were able to thoroughly knock it out and I’ve never suffered any relapses, but in medieval times I *would* have suffered relapses several times a year, and if there were complicating factors – such as my becoming lactose intolerant at age 21, which would have led to severe malnutrition if I were in a dairy-based society – it would have probably killed me.

    Seeing as how I’m now 37, an unmarried woman with no kids, and working in an academic setting, I assume my medieval self entered the Church as a young to middling teenager, provided I survived the malaria, and lived and died in an abbey.

  145. brian says:

    I would be all broken and bent and nearsighted, but, would probably live.

    I’ve broken both wrists, both ankles, dislocated an elbow, but no serious illnesses or life-threatening injuries.

    I don’t know that I’d be able to pull the cart but I could probably shuffle along next to it.

  146. wumpus says:

    Heh. This whole thread is an invitation for people to (rudely) talk about their medical issues – how can I resist!

    – Apparently ether was involved in my delivery – no, I don’t know how or why – which makes my birth and mother’s survival unlikely.

    – I’m plagued by allergies and severe rhinitis, possibly to the level of asthma. But I think their effects would’ve been much less in pre-industrial society.

    – I’m more or less legally blind. But there is significant research that indicates that this, too, is caused by literacy (i.e. modern society). If I hadn’t spent so much time reading (esp. in low light) as a child, I probably would have much better vision.

    – I had chicken pox at around 7, but I’m pretty sure that that was just as unlikely to kill you in the Middle Ages as it is now. Smallpox, not so much, but we’re not factoring that in.

    – I fell on my head a lot as a child. But it never required major medical intervention, just some cosmetic stitchery.

    – I had my wisdom teeth surgically extracted. My life would probably suck if that hadn’t happened, possibly unto the point of death.

    – I had minor breaks to both feet in my 20’s. I’d probably walk funny.

    – What likely would’ve killed me, though, was the minor puncture wound to the thigh from rusty barbed wire when I was around 13. Back then, that was a death sentence.

    – Additionally, neither of my own children would have survived their very premature births.

    Grim. Let’s hear it for immunization and dentistry! But really, my favorite modern technological advance has to be the hot shower…


  147. Kristin says:

    Ignoring the fact that neither of my parents would have made it to having me (my dad nearly lost his arm at 13 – although there’d be no printing press to have run it through… my mom would have died of mono at 19), I’d have made it and be the perfect noblewoman… completely helpless because of severe myopia. Sickest I’ve been in my life was a nasty nasty cough that went away on its own because I didn’t have health insurance or money so I didn’t go to a doctor to get medicine stronger than Robitussin.

  148. Browncoat says:

    I would have been burned as a witch at a young age for my mad yo-yo skills. Had I survived that, I probably would have died a few years ago from a “medical complication”. We all thought it was my appendix until they opened me up and looked inside–appendix looked fine, but there was a weird growth next to it that they took out, but we don’t know if it was life-threatening now or then.

  149. Telophase says:

    More references for the age of marriage:

    http://snipurl.com/1of6m – links to Google Books, Katharine Lynch’s _Individuals, Families, and Communities in Europe, 1200-1800_ Note that the upper class historically tended to marry earlier, and as Europe modernized into the Renaissance and the number of urban centers grew, marriage ages in general rose. The usual explanation is economic – when women can work (and women worked) and earn money, there is little incentive to marry early in order to support yourself.

    http://snipurl.com/1of74 – article by Fiona Harris Stoertz “Young Women in France and England, 1050-1300” She mostly focuses on elite classes, but points out that although noble girls got married as early as 12, the marriages seem to have been only consummated a few years later, as they usually start bearing children in their late teens and early 20s.

  150. Gothmog says:

    I would’ve been pulling the cart- I’ve been blessed by never having to be hospitalized for any reason- Yay, me!

  151. milw770 says:

    On the cart.

    Born 3 months premature, needed an incubator to protect me and a nurse rubbing my back 24 hours a day to remind me to breathe. In and out of the hospital with various life threatening problems until age 5.

  152. Jimmie says:

    Crud. Bad Link.

    Here’s the good on

  153. ZackTheSTGuy says:

    I was placed into the ICU at birth and had to be respirated for 2 full days before my lungs could operate at normal capacity. I would not have made it.

    Aside from that, however, I’ve been fortunate enough to have avoided any form of serious injury or illness for my entire life. There haven’t been any other complications which may have cost me my medieval life, but I guess it really only takes one.

    Put me on the cart. :(

  154. Doug Sundseth says:

    I’ve had pneumonia three times; dead is the way to bet.

  155. Cadamar says:

    The interest in this topic isn’t so much the morbid curiosity. It's the reminder that even though we fantasize about the past, we are all very fortunate to live in the present.

  156. SiliconScout says:

    I would be dead.

    Surviving my birth would have been chancy, but for sure a burst appendix at 16 would have finished me. I might have already had kids by then though.

    My sister would not have survived her birth, nor would my mother have survived it.

    My brother may well have survived into his 20’s before a car accident (horse trampling) took him out.

  157. Al Billings says:

    Born six weeks premature and put in a lighted warm box for a week for jaundice.

    Dead at birth, in other words, at any other era.

  158. lplimac says:

    On the cart within a month after being born. Heck If I was born a few years earlier the treatment I needed wouldn’t have been available. Thank god for medical reserch

  159. Dave says:

    I’d be pulling the cart.. unless the cut I got stitches for got infected.. but it was with an exacto knife cutting cardboard.. (making a board game at age 8.. Motocross game) .. wasn’t that deep.. bled enough to get clean.. other than that.. only my paranoia gets me to the doctor’s office.. our drug-ad-laden TV society has us all thinking we’re falling apart.

    I was too shy to get an STD.. yup.. I think I’d be alive..

    The high deathrates made it so the surviving population was pretty stout. Our current social contract has us with a herd with many more elderly and sick than would be natural for an animal species.. though.. I guess our population is like a zoo’s population.. lots more sick and old.. and we do tend to fear actually living.

  160. milw770 says:

    As an aside: This question raises the flip side question: How much longer are we living at end-of-life? Not just medications, but surgeries, feedings, pacemakers, defibrillators, and other implants. Now they’re grafting onto nerves themselves (infancy of cybernetics) and stem cell research promises growing whole new organs and rejuvenating systems. How long should life be prolonged? When is the end?

  161. Dangerous_Jade says:

    Let’s see – breech birth resulting in cesaerean, Dunno if that counts against me or my mother. However, I was premature, underweight, and would randomly stop breathing. None of that is neccesarily insurmountable though.

    Was deaf until I had tubes put in, also was a pretty sick kid with lots of infections.

    So unless I was really really lucky and/or determined, I think I woulda been on the cart. At the very least I woulda been deaf and very unhealthy, but I think I have to call a spade a spade here and say I probably wouldn’t made it very long, especially with my crappy imune system as a kid.

    And yes, I have thought about this before too – only more as a measure of my survival skills and whether or not I’d be able to take care of myself and family. I wish I was half as resourceful as my D & D character! =P

  162. Knastymike says:

    Oh yeah, considering I’ve needed glasses since I was 14, I probably shouldn’t be the lead cart-puller. I’m not helpless without my glasses, but I shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car (or carriage, for that matter).

  163. I’d have died in 1988 with the birth of my second child. I started bleeding, and had to have an emergency C-section to save both our lives. He might have survived, but I wouldn’t have.

  164. chuko says:

    What a perfect question! No doubt I would’ve died in my youth, many times over. There were enough complications when I was an infant they weren’t sure I was going to live in modern times. I also had my tonsils out when I was four – but I don’t know, did infection of the tonsils actually kill people? presumedly…

  165. Mark says:

    I have scoliosis and had to wear a back brace for 5 years to avoid surgery. Left untreated, I’d most probably be in pain (and possibly a hunchback of some sort), but I’d be alive. Other than the scoliosis, I haven’t really experienced anything life threatening. I seem to have a pretty good constitution and have never suffered from allergies, asthma or other ailments. I’m even pretty resistant to motion sickness. It’s just the scoliosis, but again, I don’t think that’s life threatening on its own.

  166. Ken Talton says:

    I would have died at age 6 months when I began bleeding from a meckles diverticulum (basically stomach gastric cells in the intestine)surgery saved my life.

    I would have died again when I got any number of infections that required antibiotics.

    I would now be lame because of the knee injury I suffered in the Coast Guard a few years ago.

    I would be even uglier as I’d not have gotten stitches for a head injury when I was 14..

    Note that “Lame” “deformed” and “dead” would affect my com and soc stats.

    Thus I’d use the stats freed up by the disad points to buy up my INT and spell casting ability.

    As such I’d have a head start on being a powerful lich…
    (I’d freakin’ OWN the middle ages!)

  167. dreamfarer says:

    Dead as a doornail at 12. Killed by a ruptured appendix. That’s assuming that one of the less memorable “cuts-requiring stitches” or “fevers high enough to go to the emergency room” as a little tyke didn’t kill me first.

  168. John says:

    I think I’d be puillng the cart… Nothing worse than some spilt blood here and there, although I’m sure the scars would be much nastier.

  169. Refugee says:

    However long it would have been, I would have spent my life as a near-sighted, club-footed cripple.

    I had my tonsils out at 8; I don’t know what would have happened to me without that.

    Very likely, I’d’ve spent my adult life suffering from an peptic ulcer, and eventually it would have perforated and that would have been it for me–I’m guessing by the age of 30, 40 at the latest.

    What really interests me is whether or not I’d’ve been burned at the stake. How much of a free-thinker would I have been, raised in a society that viciously suppressed such tendencies? I’m a preacher’s kid, so there’s a good chance I’d be literate, possibly even trained for the priesthood. But nobody could answer the questions I started asking around kindergarten. Would I have kept asking them after the first few beatings, or would I have just quietly become a clerk, scribe, physician, or lawyer?

  170. Joe M says:

    I would definitely be on the cart. I’ve been to the hospital twice for asthma induced pneumonia.

  171. Corsair says:

    It’s debatable if I would have survived. I’ve never been seriously injured or sick, but then again, in the Middle Ages, my mother would likely have died giving birth to my next older brother, he was a C-Section. Even assuming that didn’t somehow destroy me, I would probably have gotten strung up by the Inquisition. So, uh, I have no clue where I’d be. I don’t want to go on the cart…

  172. TooMad says:

    Pushing the cart. Never had any medical problems at all yet. *Knocks on wood*

  173. Refugee says:

    Wow, appendicitis seems to be the most popular killer. Glad I never got it.

    I forgot about teeth. My bucked-teeth would be rotting by 15, assuming that it’s not just modern diet that got mine. Regardless, by 30 I’d’ve been contemplating suicide over my wisdoms.

  174. Rhea says:

    Woo, lots of comments here. Ignoring the fact that I probably wouldn’t have been in the states to GET rocky mountain spotted fever, I would’ve died at age 17 without modern medicine to take care of the virus.

    Other than that one tick bite, I’d still be alive.

  175. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    I'm going by anecdotes I've heard over the years that ~15 was a perfectly reasonable age for marriage. And really: Why wouldn't it be? We wait until mid-20's now because people have to finish school. There was no good reason to wait for 18 in the middle ages.

    Well I don’t know what I’m talking about either. :) I’m largely going off of research which shows that in pre-modern England the birth rates were fairly low largely because people didn’t get married until well into their 20s (or later, for men). Birth rates went way up and average age of marriage dropped when England hit the Industrial Revolution and there was more food to go around. This also happened to an even larger degree in the Colonies.

    When you say that we put off marriage because of school, you’re saying that we put off marriage until we can get a solid footing economically. I imagine that a similar dynamic could have delayed marriage ages historically, depending on the time and place.

  176. PurpleStarfish says:

    I’ve been quite healthy for my entire life (I’m 20 now), except for a few snags.

    I dislocated my kneecap twice in my teens, but I think that’s minor enough for even medieval medicine to take care of (the treatment was a man pulling my leg straight and then me not walking on it for a few weeks). It might have left me limping, though.

    I also got pneumonia at 19, but I didn’t get treatment for it until over a week had gone by and I was feeling a little better (I just thought it was a mean cold). I don’t know if that would have killed me, either, as I was recovering on my own and medicine merely sped it up.

    I’d likely be begging, I think, due to my aforementioned limp and terrible eyesight.

  177. PurpleStarfish says:

    Oh, I forgot, I had a horrible fever as a baby, so maybe that would have finished me off. Awful to think of.

  178. Melfina the Blue says:

    Repeated bladder infections at a young age with high fevers, but I came through okay without antibiotics. Grew out of the issue that caused them in the first place.
    Of course, I’d be blind by now (damn psuedotumar cerebri), but my body’s built for childbearing, so I’d have a decent chance of surviving that. Yay for wide hips. My wisdom teeth would have made me miserable and impacted, but I’m not sure what that would do.
    So, pulling the cart with a white stick.

  179. Kevin says:

    Yeah, I’d be in the cart. Appendicitis again.

  180. ravenkith says:

    Blind in one eye, but still alive and kicking, damn it!

  181. Kurt says:

    Hydrocephalus as a baby. Dead with an exploded head, no less.

  182. MONKEEYYY says:

    I’d be as dead as a dodo. An infection in my appendix meant that it had to be removed when I was eleven. An infection in that area would have been lethal during the middle ages. It’s been a while since I’ve thought about this.

    Get me in that cart.

  183. Sewerman says:

    This is a good question- I think I’d be pulling, as the worst thing that has happened to me was a fish hook in the leg at 9 (it hurt tho).

  184. xbolt says:

    I would not have made it. I had to go in for heart surgery at the age of three, without which, real problems would have started a couple of years ago, and I would be dead right now.

    Hooray for modern medical science!

  185. Melfina the Blue says:

    Oh, and reposted

  186. Devin says:

    Likely dead at five from complications of the chicken pox. If not, then I’d likely be alive, albeit unable to see anything.

  187. Mysterium says:

    Hmmm… good question actually. What’s your stance on a tonsillectomy that wasn’t for inflamed tonsils but rather disintegrating tonsils. Supposedly, they would have just completely disintegrated on their own but I was warned it was a very painful process. O_o ew, right?

    Other than that I’ve had 9 stiches put in my face/head by getting mauled by a cat, adn I got attacked by a metal table that gave me 17 sticthes but not much infection. Other than that.. I think I’ve been pretty lucky. *ponders on this*

  188. Mrs T says:

    I died after several attempts by trepanning to release the demons in my head. I know a lot of people survived them, but as many migraines as I’ve had, I’d have either run out of skull or gotten an infection.

    (also childhood cancer, but trepanning’s more fun)

  189. Shamus says:

    This is, by far, the longest comment thread on the whole dang site. Wow. I wasn’t expecting that. It’s always funny to see what captures the attention.

  190. DoveArrow says:

    Nope. My heart stopped when I was being born. If it hadn’t been for modern medicine, they wouldn’t have been able to get me out in time, and my mom probably would have died too. Oh, and I was 11 lbs., 4 oz. Without a Caesarian, there was no way I was going to be born. Oh, and did I mention that I was a week overdue and that they had to induce labor? Yeah, modern medicine is the only reason I even made it out of the starting gate. Hmmm… maybe starting gate isn’t the right phrase to use in this particular situation.

  191. rou says:

    Unless chicken pox would have been fatal, I would be alive and kicking. Not so much as a cut that needed stitches in 30 years. And you’d better believe I’m knocking on wood while typing. My wife would have died at birth though.

  192. Otters34 says:

    The end is when your brain dies.Simple, really.

    More on-topic, I dare-say I would have survived.No real medical or religious difficulties, though I remember being told once that I strained a muscle and had to have surgery.Oh, and don’t forget the whole premature birth thing.

  193. Hmm, I’d be alive, but I’d be blind and crippled…

  194. Otters34 says:

    Oh yeah, and J have rather poor eysight.

  195. coz says:

    I had the cord around my neck and very blue, so even if I survived that, I would probably have been the brain damaged village idiot.
    Apart from a couple of broken bones I’m very healthy. No operations, no allergies, though lame eyesight.

    Living Medieval for a week over Easter (in Australia) is much more fun than the real thing.

  196. ryanlb says:

    Like your friend, I would have died of a burst appendix as a child, I was 6 or 7, I believe. I can’t think of anything any of my siblings would have died from (other than the one that did die as an infant), so 3 out of 5 kids in my family might have survived.

  197. Sauron says:

    I had a few issues in my early years, but I’m fairly certain that less technology was better for those, so I should be alive and kicking, possibly less an arm….

  198. xbolt says:

    Inconceivable! 200 comments! Not even the most chatty DMotR made it this far!

    This is a prime candidate for the ‘Best Posts’ list.

    Also, I posted the question on the Chex Quest Fan Forums, here:

  199. I’m nearsighted and my teeth are crooked and ugly (actually even today they aren’t straight and beautiful but they’d be worse back then), but I think I’m alive.

    I may be tired and run down due to an iron deficiency but it’s also possible the natural diet of the time compensates for that. (I’m Caucasian and this appears to be a common problem with Caucasians, probably because in the past the diet naturally had more nutrients. It’s also possible a more active lifestyle would mitigate the problem.)

    I may also be deaf due to some ear-infection problems as a child, but then again I may have outgrown them. (It’s faintly possible they’d kill me, but I think under these rules we’d chalk that up under general hazards; theoretically any cut could become a fatal infection and this is no different.)

  200. ohnoabear says:

    I would probably still be alive. I had a normal birth (my mom did it sans pain medication, even), and I’ve never had any serious health problems. Not even any broken bones.

    In fact, thinking about it, my immediate family would likely all still be alive, with the exception of my brother. I guess we’ve just been lucky.

  201. Water_Singer says:

    I’m pretty sure I would be fine…worst that’s happened to me is a dislocated shoulder and I would hope that even medieval medicine could handle that (twist and pop…that’s it). I have mild asthma but unless I was doing a lot of running it wouldn’t be much of a problem. I suppose I would have bad teeth but pretty much everyone did in those days anyway…really just in danger of them rotting and that’s not even for sure. Other than that…I’ve had one minor infection but the doctor said it would have resolved on it’s own and the antibiotics were really only there to speed things up.

    My brother would definitely be dead…he had lymphoma when he was 8 and while our modern medicine managed to fix him, back then he would’ve be done for.

    I’m not sure about my parents…I think my dad would’ve died when he was a teenager or early twenties because he cut himself and broke bones a lot. My mom would probably be dead too…she’s had pneumonia and other lung problems several times (we have a joke that every five years, she’s got to be really sick for two weeks to make up for all the days she goes into work sick).

    So, if you discount the fact that both my parents would be dead before having me, I’d be alive but the rest of my family would be dead…

  202. CJG says:

    The only major medical problem I’ve had was a greenstick fracture of the leg from falling off a slide at age 2. Thus, Middle Ages me is probably horribly gimpy but still able to walk.

    I think I’m pulling the cart.

  203. beckyzoole says:

    I’d probably be on the cart. I was an accident-prone kid, needing stitches three times while I was in high school, breaking my arm, breaking my leg, breaking my toe. If none of these became infected, the strep throat I got every single winter would have turned into rheumatic fever or scarlet fever and killed me. Oh, and I’d be cross-eyed and near-sighted, too.

  204. melchar says:

    Never had a broken bone, been sick a bit but recovered [pretty much without antibiotics due to a somewhat paranoid mom] – but I’m horribly near-sighted.

    So I probably would be pulling the cart and seeing things all blurry if they’re more than a few foot away.

  205. Brett says:

    Dead here. Probably before or directly after birth. I was seriously premature and came down with pneumonia right after birth.

  206. Matt` says:

    When I was born I tried to come out sideways (not even breach position, sideways) with the umbilical round my neck.

    If I survived that I’d have made it for a few years, until that incident with the poisonous berry that ended up with a stomach pumping (unless their knowledge of plants meant they would keep small children away from yew back then)

    If I came through both of those, the only major injury since was a twisted ankle, which is pretty survivable. I guess I got all my life-imperilment out of the way early on.

  207. Seracka says:

    Would have survived at least to my present age but, would have looked kind of like Marty Feldman as I suffer from the same disorder that he had. He was just untreated and I am treated.

  208. Seracka says:

    Oh, and in my neighborhood there is a family who has 19 children…no multiple births, no adoptions and they started having kids at about 18 years old. So, the number can be greater than 12.

  209. Siobharek says:

    I’d have been a goner. Had the whooping cough as an infant.

  210. Anna says:

    I would be alive, if rather hard of seeing. My brother, on the other hand, would have died somewhere around the age of 10 of a kidney infection. (I’m assuming it would have been fatal in a darker age, though I don’t actually know.)

  211. Adam says:

    Severe and chronic Bronchitis, Asthma and early Chickenpox. So I would not have made it past 6 months.

  212. trigear says:

    Persistent severe lifelong allergies and allergy-related asthma. Life threatening without immediate treatment, and I’ve been within five minutes of death more times than I want to count. I used to go to the ER so often that they knew me by name. I was like Norm on Cheers. “Just come right in! Have a seat!” But then you could argue that my allergies might be related to pollution and or early exposure to strong antibiotics, so that might not have been a factor.

    A few years ago I had gall stones, and had to have an operation to remove them. That, too, would have been fatal without treatment, but then I got the gall stones from eating so much processed, fatty food.

    So really, it’s arguable. But then, if you really want to be a stickler for details, even if someone with my exact genetic code had been born in the middle ages, he would have missed out on the life experiences that made me ME. And a lot of those “I wouldn’t have survived that” moments would have been avoided entirely.

    So it’s really a silly question, and that being the case, there’s no point analyzing it too deeply. So you just have to look at what Shamus is really asking: “Are you entirely dependent on modern medicine? Could you have survived to your current age without it?” In which case, my answer is that “no, I definitely would not be alive right now were it not for modern medicine, and I can say that many many many times over.” Put me on the cart, Shamus.

  213. capitain says:

    Probably pulling, …barely.
    Had an evil pneumonia when I was in the army. Mountain division. They asked me nicely to keep going, and I did. When we came back a week later, I was recovering. Lung´s scarred partially. Got no medication, so I figure I´d have done it back then too. Doc said it was touch and go however.

    But pulling depends on when and where. Middle ages in Europe were at the nadir of a steep decline in medical quality. But of roman tombs we know that brain surgery (i.e. removing arrowheads and lead slugs) existed, and worked. I know at least three findings of recuperated Brain patients. Somewhere around 90 to 70 B.C. Arabia in the middle ages is a complete difference. They had a working medical and surgical system which was adept at treating fevers, crippling wounds and sometimes even cancer (as did medieval china and japan). America, I don´t know. But I´d bet real money shaman medicine to be better than the sign of a cross cut in your head – to expell the evil vapours. So, I think americans, chinese, japanese, arabs and aboriginees would be far better off than europeans -in a middle age scenario.

  214. SteveDJ says:

    Type I diabetes, for about 20 years now. Probably would have only made it a couple years without modern medicine, so… yup… another one on the cart. :)

  215. jpetoh says:

    On the cart, dead at the tender age of 3.

    I had the croup, aka severe childhood bronchitis. Was in the hospital for a week. Almost had to get a tracheotomy.

    Dead, dead, dead.

  216. stevend says:

    Dead at 6 weeks – stomach valve surgery was required in order to allow me to partake of food (previous to this I was fed intravenously through the major arteries in my legs.

    So on second thought, I wouldn’t have made it to six weeks, I would have dead within days of birth.


  217. Petrushka says:

    I give myself a 50/50 chance of surviving the asthma. That’s a higher-than-real chance, but I’m letting myself off as I might well not have had it in the Middle Ages — (a) asthma was much rarer before modern sanitation, and (b) in RL I’m living in a New World country which has just about the highest incidence of asthma in the world. I did have mumps and chicken pox, but got over them both in what was then the usual way (and may still be, for all I know) — just by sitting it out, so I get to survive those in the Middle Ages too.

    But I’d be deaf in one ear, and my right hand would be a bit weak from a severe bone break which wouldn’t have healed well if I had had to do any work; a weak right hand would probably be a social stigma. If I still had to have asthma I’d be significantly disabled by it. I’d also be psychologically stunted from being prohibited to be left-handed.

  218. Julia says:

    Not sure.

    Deaf by age 8.

    Possibly dead in childbirth the first time around (age 32).

    Then again, if I’d been living in the middle ages, the baby might not have gotten quite so big, so the problems in childbirth would have been avoided that way. (My pelvis was NOT made to easily disgorge a 8.5-lb. baby with a head big for his weight — I think the doc said he had the head of a 10-pounder. Which is kinda big.)

  219. AnnMCN says:

    I’m super near-sighted, but most of women’s chores could be done without distance vision. I’m Rh Negative, though, so I’d have had a row of tiny gravestones, as all three of my children were Rh Positive (maybe the first would have lived). I probably would have died in childbirth with my second child, because the birth was too easy and fast, and so I tore.

  220. Dave Klecha says:

    So far, so good, I think. I had a cyst on my throat when I was young, but I think that was removed as a precaution and was otherwise benign. Otherwise, my biggest complications have been an allergy to penicillin and Benadryl–stuff I wouldn’t have had to worry too much over in the middle ages.

  221. Smyth says:

    I wouldn’t have made it past 6 years old. A major infection in my nect took some serious antibiotics to fix.
    My brother wouldn’t have made it, born with the cord around his neck.
    My father wouldn’t have made it either, he was born premature.
    My mother would have maybe made it into her teens, but that would have been the end for her too.

  222. andy says:

    Alive, sans one ankle – had fairly obvious blood poisoning that required intravenous antibiotics at 18. To be fair it was a modern antibiotic resistant staph infection, but I guess when there were no antibiotics, something similar without the antibiotic resistance would have done the same thing.

    Once I was in the clear the doc joked that 100 years ago lower leg would have just been taken straight off. Found out later I had actually been tentatively booked in for surgery the day it started improving.

    On that note – any time someone uses disinfectant cream, or dethol or savlon or whatever, back in ‘the day’, before those things were common, scraping one’s knee in the street (which was probably full of elluent) was a potentially life threatening event.

  223. Clarifon says:

    I would have survived to my current age! I have never needed to go hospital in my life, though I did once need to go to the doctors due to a motorcycle accident. That said, my mother would probably have died giving birth to me, and my father due to asthma.

  224. kdorian says:

    Pulling the cart – not even crippled. I’ve been amazingly lucky (and had a father who was a huge proponent of heathly food and vitamins before it was popular). No broken bones, no major accidents – I’ve had the breath knocked out of me 3 times, but that was it.

    Of course, if you’re counting the number of people who died of complications of tooth decay, I’d have to move on the cart and take a ride. You are aware that in worst-case scenarios, abscesses from rotten teeth could kill? There was far less sugar in the diet, but there was a lot more grit and rough food that would wear down the teeth.

    Maybe I’d be alive. Just call me ‘gummy’.

  225. rogue_stupidity says:

    I would’ve made it. Never been to the hospital since I was born, no allergies, no serious injuries, etc. I’m cautious like that.

  226. unseelie_sidhe says:

    Well, let’s see, if the chronic ear infections and tonsilitis at age two didn’t kill me, they probably would have left me deaf. If I had survived, then the nasty cut to my leg at age 11 would probably have gotten infected… if nothing else, lockjaw from the rusty metal I cut myself on. If I had survived that, then the allergic reaction in my late twenties would’ve finished me off.

  227. J Greely says:

    On the cart. As an infant, I was violently allergic to many things, including breast milk. If I’d survived that, there was a rather nasty illness when I was a teenager that had me living on liquids for a few weeks. That probably would have done it.


  228. M Hamann says:

    Riding the cart; death by leukemia at 22.

  229. Nothing says:

    Peasant: Put I’m in the cart.
    me: But I’m not dead! *spleen explodes*
    Peasant:Well you’re dead now I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

  230. Davemonkey says:

    Wouldn’t even make it past birth. I was 6 weeks premature and was in intensive care for a significant period. My Mum probably would have died as well.

    If a miracle pulled me through that the appendicitis would have got me at 14. Onto the cart with me!

  231. Pilomotor says:

    I’ve lived a fairly safe life, so even without modern medicine, I’d probably still be kicking. Although I caught pertussis as a teenager, I’d like to believe my odds of survival would’ve been better than 50-50 without antibiotics. Then again, I caught it as a teenager because the childhood vaccination we all receive is only designed to protect us during our most vulnerable years. Incidentally, I crashed my scooter at 40mph at the age of 19, and probably would’ve lost my leg to infection… but if I had merely crashed a horse into a wall or something, it might not have been so serious. Tough call.

  232. Chris says:

    Nope I would have died, I was always sick till about the 4th grade when my had a tonsillectomy.

  233. Glumly says:

    I reckon i would be alive but being on the bring of partial sightendess i dont know what use i would be :) i cant see my hand in front of my face without my specs :D

  234. lynnylchan says:

    I’d still be around… a bit squinty from the bad eyesight, but nothing major ever happened to me, apart from a gash at age 6 which I think even medieval peasants could have managed.

  235. NRD80Y says:

    Awsome question to mull over.

    Nothing that happened in my modern life would've killed me back then. I had and easy birth, never needed surgery, haven't had to go to the doctor, I have perfect vision, and suposidly my blood has a very high immunity to tetanus. So I assume I may have stood a chance (but they didn’t have computer games back then so probably would have spent more outdoor times ).

    [URL=”http://www.ls1.com.au/forum/showthread.php?t=79872″]Reposted[/URL] as well.

  236. Attorney At Chaos says:

    Appendicitis at 16 would probably be my limit. Possibly earlier – I believe I had strep throat at least once before that, being treated by antibiotics, aspirin to keep the fever down and so on. That might or might not have been fatal back when. Similarly, living through the normal childhood diseases of my era (mumps, measles, chicken pox, rubella) was made EASIER by aspirin to keep the fever at safer levels. But if there was, say, a 5% chance of dying from each of them with NO treatment….

    As for the “very early marriage” you talk about – that’s MOSTLY urban legend. Oh, it happened now and again, most notably in “political-alliance arranged marriages”. But when you go through church records and note dates of birth vs dates of marriages of those same people you find that first marriages were GENERALLY taking place in the late teens and early twenties, not the early teens that you are thinking of.

    Dying at 16 I =might= have lived long enough to have married and fathered a child, but most likely not.

    At 17 I had Wisdom Teeth extracted because there wasn’t room for them to come in. Living in the middle ages I might or might not have already lost a tooth or three to make room for them.

  237. Ralff says:

    If a combination of walking pneumonia and the flu at eleven didn’t do me in, then the appendicitis at fifteen definitely would.

  238. wildweasel says:

    Worst thing that ever happened to me was a skinned knee at 10, and I had a tooth pulled at 12. Nothing else really happened to me…except maybe allergies =P

  239. Pixy Misa says:

    Pulling the cart, most likely.

    Never had a serious illness; never broken a bone; never needed surgery. I’d probably be a monk, squinting myopically at the death register as I scratched in all the new names. :)

  240. jdhays says:

    Except for the occasional flu, I’ve lead a healthy life. But I have 20/200 vision. I often wondered how my life would have been if eyeglasses hadn’t been invented. Without them the world is an impenetrable blur. I may be pulling the cart but I have no idea where I’m pulling it.

  241. Yonder says:


    I had my tonsils taken out in kindergarden, prior to that I was plagued with frequent (really constant) infections. It may have taken a couple of years, but eventually all of that would wear me down and kill me.

    If, however, I had somehow survived my childhood, and the tonsil problem resolved itself (probably not possible) I’d be fine. Never broke any bones, and even have had great health since the surgery.

  242. Sion says:

    On the cart at birth. I was born prematurely with fluid-filled lungs.

  243. Jewbacca says:

    I’m on the cart. I managed to catch TB while I lived overseas as a youngster. While it never infected me, it would really be only a matter of time. Thankfully all I had to do was take two pills a day for a whole year! Yay modern medicine!

  244. Dix says:

    Despite several attempts to kill myself (let’s see. Flying backward off the ATV and landing on my head at an angle that barely didn’t break my neck but miraculously left me with only aches and pains… we’ll call that ‘thrown by rearing horse’) I have never had any medical care which would be considered life-saving. Guess I’m pulling the cart – with a limp, since the neuroma in my foot wouldn’t be fixed.

  245. Rick says:

    I’d be here. Worst incident I can remember is a broken ankle; at worst, that would amount to a slight limp today.

  246. Lanthanide says:

    I’ve never had any serious injuries or illnesses, except for measles and chicken pox (but I don’t recall having medicine for either of those?), so I’d still be alive, at 22.

    Unless someone gay-bashed me when I came onto them, in which case I’d be a beggar or dead, depending how nasty they were.

  247. Ben says:

    I’d probably be here, barring any unforseen (or indeed unseen) holes/cliffs/speeding horses etc given my bad eyesight. Given that my only injuries in 25 years have been toppling headfirst off a bike (broke the helmet with my skull) and breaking a finger in a car door, I assume I’d be pretty unlucky to have that happen in medieval times.
    Oddly enough the same thing would go for my brother and my mother, although my dad’d have gone about ten years ago from cancer, but I’m pretty sure I’d still have all three uncles and their families too since healthiness seems fairly common in this family.

  248. tafka says:

    Me? No. Assuming that I didn’t start having asthma problems until childhood, I’d have died from being mauled by a dog as a toddler.

  249. Rachel says:

    I’d have bit the dust at 13 when, after having been told I was simply constipated, I was finally correctly diagnosed with an ovarian cyst the size of a small zucchini. Since it had completely cut off all blood circulation to the ovary in question, it turns out that, if I hadn’t had the surgery to remove it when I did, it would have probably burst within 24 hours, allowing gangrene to set it.

    Of course, even if that hadn’t happened, I’d have kicked it in childbirth.

    Side rant: soon after my, um, complicated delivery, I overheard a woman extolling the virtues of her home birth, saying, “After all, women have been giving birth at home for thousands of years!”

    I was polite and didn’t respond with my first thought, which was, “Yes, and, up until recently, the leading cause of *death* among women was childbirth.”


  250. Rixaxun says:

    I’d be on the cart. So very, on the cart.

  251. I needed leg braces when I was 2, and often had ear infections when I was young. Oh, and was born a month early. So I think I’d be dead by the time I was one, let alone later than that. And if I had survived, I would be practically blind by this point.

    So very, very on the cart

  252. veloxyll says:

    I’d be a dead. if I survived my asthma, my Collapsed lung would’ve been terminal (unless you believe the VACCINES CAUSE ASTHMA crazies, where neither might’ve occured).

    Well. Might’ve been terminal. I’d be unfit to work at any rate.

  253. Masakados says:

    Just a few constipates in my entire life, nothing else, in my 31 years of life…

    … but hey, beign healthy in an age with wars all over the world… that cannot be good :)

  254. luagha says:

    On the cart, died at birth. I was weeks premature and required a full blood transfusion to survive.

    After that I would likely have died to recurrent bronchitis. But other than that I tore my knee cartilage hopping down 2 steps at age 17, and tore my other knee’s ACL in martial arts recently. Without surgery I’d be tottering like tiny tim.

  255. Unless people die of tonsilitis, I’d be OK. I’ve never had anything worse than a flu or a sprained ankle. Pulling that cart.

  256. Woerlan says:

    Yes, people can die of tonsilitis. Lots of possible complications. I had it too. Chronic tonsilitis in fact. I’d be dead without the antibiotics.

    So I’d be dead. Ignoring that, I had dengue hemorrhagic fever. That may have killed me too.

  257. Raved Thrad says:

    I would’ve died when I was four or five. I had a fever so high I had to be rushed to the hospital, and even then they thought I was going to die.

    That’s even assuming I would have lived that long, considering I was born premature.

  258. Chrystalline says:

    I’d have died trying to be born. Even if I’d managed to survive that, there’s the allergies, asthma, and extreme nearsightedness that’d get me. Hmm, gloomy.

  259. Sem says:

    Dead. When I was younger I was really susceptible to throat infection. Two times it was really nasty and lasted tree to four months. Without antibiotics, it could have easily evolved into tbc, bronchitis, …

    So, definitely on the cart.

  260. I would have lived many years in great pain and discomfort (I had a hernia that required operation when I was a young child). I would have then died when I was 17 or 18 as a result of a strep throat infection. It nearly killed me in this world. I was living in the dorms of an art high school and it was only when I became too weak to get out of bed and report to the nurse that I was too ill to go to class that my parents were contacted and I was rushed to a hospital. Without medication, the doctor said I would most likely not have survived more than a couple more weeks. And they wouldn’t have been pleasant weeks.

    (Best part of this story? I received detention for failing to report to the nurse in a timely fashion. That lasted for about fifteen minutes until my parents raised holy hell.)

    And, of course, almost all of us benefit from a panoply of vaccines that safeguard us against some of history’s biggest killers.

    (At first I thought I’d be okay, but then I remembered the strep.)

    Justin Alexander

  261. Daebereth says:

    Well, I seem to have survived without anything happen to me at all – yay for uninteresting life, but I have to think, without all those immunisations, would I have had something that would have killed me?
    We’ll never know, but I’m pulling the damn cart.

  262. Kajen says:

    Definitely on the cart – first asthma attack at the age of 1 3/4 years, on medication since then.

  263. Zaghadka says:

    Ah… but how many of us would’ve been burned at the stake or executed for heresy?

    I think I’d still be alive, barring the Spanish Inquisition of course.

  264. Nefke says:

    I can only think of the fact that now, at age 23, childbirth might have done the job.

    But other than that I might be fine, cannot think of anythink serious injury that would’ve killed me. So I’ll be pulling the cart.

  265. Ravs says:

    My birth was very premature. I wouldn’t have made it had it not been for the hospital incubator. Also had mild epilepsy until I was about 5, so I think I’d be on the cart.


  266. Mark Caliber says:

    This one is kinda hard. I have a medical condition which is not life threatening, but it would have been horribly painful.

    I figure I might have shot myself with a crossbow by now, if it hadn’t been for modern medicine.

    So for the purposes of this poll, put me in the cart.

  267. the_corruptor says:

    I would have died as a child for the same reason as you, asthma probably would have gotten me. Save that I think I would have been okay.

    pity i’m already in the cart.

  268. Alden says:

    I figured I’d have survived, barring accidents as a result of short sightedness. :)

  269. James says:

    Cart-puller. Never had any major diseases, except chicken-pox. Didn’t do anything athletic either. No broken bones or such.

    I could read at a very young age though! Maybe they’d have thought me a warlock and had me put to death?


  270. Hito says:

    Pulling the cart. I’m rather short sighted, but apart from that I’ve been insanely lucky with injuries, *touches wood*, I never suffered worse than bruising, and I’ve got no allergies that I know of.

    Makes up for my dice ^_^

  271. Clint Memo says:

    I had cancer at 32. I would certainly have died then. That was ten years ago.
    My dad had asthma and would have died before I was born.

  272. Traiden says:

    Died, or maybe not, depends if they cut open the stumic of the mom to birth the baby when it does not come out. So I would live if my mother died… Werid, other than that I would be completly fine up until the point where they have to rip out two of my teeth with hourses.

  273. AdaMM says:

    on the cart, some serious illness by the age of 5-6, hardly a chance for a reasonable survivor.

  274. Tolmar says:

    I ate an entire bottle of aspirin and had to have my stomach pumped when I was a little kid. Though that was precautionary, and given the rest of my life, I probably would’ve survived. I also broke off three of my teeth when I was a kid, but those grew back eventually and with no dentistry.

    I’m very nearsighted, but I was nearsighted for about five years before I got glasses for it, so I know I can survive without. It’s not like I’d have to read very much as a medieval type.

    And, worst yet, I was extremely sickly from ages eight to sixteen. It later turned out I was allergic to milk, but not lactose intolerant, so nobody figured it out. You’d think this would’ve killed me off, but in all that time no medicine I tried actually helped, and I fought off the worst of it without any medicinal help.

    I tore something in my knee but never visited a doctor (stupid move) and eventually it healed. I grew a welt the size of said knee after a boating accident, but I survived that without medical attention to: the only remaining sign is a permanently discolored patch of skin.

    In fact, my only health problem of any note, after all of that, is that my physical fitness fluctuates greatly due to not having much worth doing with my body in the modern world.

    With all that said, I think I can safely say that not only would I have survived the middle ages, I’d be healthier if I lived then than I am today.

  275. Zaxares says:

    Me = Probably dead.

    At the age of 10, I had gonadal complications that probably wouldn’t killed me, but the only possible remedy would be castration.

    That would suck, I assure you. :P

    That was the most serious health problem I ever had though. At age 12, I broke two fingers in my right hand, but back then surgeons (or barbers, rather) were capable of setting broken bones.

    Of much greater concern is my eyesight, which is absolutely appalling. I’m so short-sighted that if it weren’t for my glasses, I’d be effectively blind. I could possibly land a job as a scribe, but I wouldn’t be the most effective one. :P

    I’ve had my share of illnesses and viruses over the years too, but I’ve been blessed with an unusually strong immune system. I can recover from most annoying bugs within a day or two without the aid of medication. I’ve never, in all my life, ever been sick (like, bedridden sick) for longer than three days.

    Oh wait, I did have my wisdom teeth removed when I was 21, but it remains to be seen whether they would have proved life-threatening. Annoying, certainly, but life-threatening? Probably not.

  276. Antendren says:

    Dead of a ruptured appendix at 16, but at least I probably would have procreated first.

  277. capitain says:

    Hmm, Shamus.
    You might really think about adding a fourth column for those with terrible farsight (looking for the cart?!). Seems to me this is an ailment worth its own column. It´s by far the incapacitation cited mostly. Limp´s probably second.

    By the way. How do you treat parachuting accidents (or other incidents unfeasible in medieval times)? A guy I know survived one. Even had some bones not broken. Is that falling down a cliff, being run down by bull, thrown off castle wall, damage from witchcraft or would you treat that as non existent?

  278. Roses says:

    I would have died giving birth… twice. heh.

    (P.S. Harvey sent me.)

  279. dragonbane says:

    I’d have survived, but I would have broken teeth (fell off a bike aka horse when I was a kid, landed on the pavement aka rock in the path face first), and i’m VERY nearsighted without correction.

  280. Brian says:

    I believe I’d be alive. I had a bad cut on my face early in life that’s left a large scar. Assuming no infection, it’d have been alright.

    I wouldn’t be able to have children, but I’d be alive.

  281. kat says:

    Assuming I survived the bout of German measles I had when I was 18 months (probably safe, since I don’t think they did much at the hospital but watch, hydrate, and pat Mom’s hand), I’d have survived. I am ridiculously healthy. And, incidentally, I probably wouldn’t have gotten smallpox, as I milk cows for a living…

    I might have lost that finger that I got a Staph infection in, though (only time I’ve ever had antibiotics), and I would be a Beggar because of my eyesight, which uncorrected is something like 20/200. Welcome to the WONDERFUL world of vision correction.

  282. Contagion says:

    Being a re-enactor we have these conversations all the time. I can honestly say that I probably would have died at the age of 15, if for some reason I survived a shattered leg (29 seperate breaks on the febula alone 7 length ways) I would have ended up crippled for life. More than likely I would have died of complications and the infection that set in even with modern meds.

  283. Jon says:

    On the cart. Appendix at 12.

    BTW, great site.

  284. Paul Arthur says:

    I’ve never had an injury serious enough to require medical attention. The only illness I’ve taken medication for was strep throat.

  285. Pffh says:

    I would have survived but I would be unable to multiply because of a freak twist in my testicles at the age of 7. It wouldn’t have killed me but still…

  286. Mrs. Who says:

    I would have been a ‘two-fer’ on the cart…I would have died in childbirth, having needed a C-section. Scary thought, so I’m glad I live in the here-and-now.

  287. KMC says:

    well, i was breech, so there’s that. if i made it somehow, i might’ve lost to pneumonia. other than that, i would have lived, but i might be a little scarred since i had a tureen of hot soup dropped on me when i was little. running water meant my parents could get me into the bathtub quickly and cool me off.

  288. Mandi says:

    Hmm…I fell down a cliff and had a nasty cut on my face which required a dozen stitches when I was about five. If that wouldn’t have killed me outright, I probably would have died from infection. Then I nearly drowned when I was ten at the beach, and had to be saved by a lifeguard, so I probably would have died then too.

    Then I had mono when I was fifteen or sixteen, which might have killed me if I had been treated improperly (bloodletting, dirty conditions, etc.)

    So, I’d be dead. Really really dead.

  289. txknight says:

    Put me on the cart! I came close to death multiple times just right out of the womb! I was a very sick baby and would never have survived.

  290. indikate says:

    I’d be on the cart, too. Dangit! I was really sick when I was about seven (don’t know what it was!), and my appendix came really close to bursting when I was fourteen. My mum didn’t think it was appendicitis, and so I didn’t have it out for ages! So much for being a nurse.

    Awesome post. It’s made me realise just how lucky I am to live in the 21st century, and also just how lucky I am to be alive at all.

  291. Danzaemon says:

    Haven’t read n+1 comments, so sorry if this reproduces something.

    I was a C-section birth, so in medieval times that’s my mother (and hence my younger brother) out of the picture for sure. But I could have survived.

    I had a couple of very minor broken bones when I was young, which may have left me with a good weather gauge, but almost certainly wouldn’t have killed me.

    There was a brush with Mononucleosis (AKA Glandular Fever) in my 20s, but as the fever wasn’t high enough to kill me I’d probably have survived that too as long as I was given the chance to rest. And let’s face it, even modern medicine can do sweet Fanny Adams about viral infections anyway.

    On the other hand, I have seriously impaired vision. Like I can’t identify a face a foot in front of me without corrective lenses. Glasses have been around for a very long time – since the 13th or 14th century at least – but would only have been available to a very limited set of people. If I was lucky enough to be such a person, great, but most likely it would have reduced me to begging, which means my life expectancy would probably be less than my current age: goodbye me.

  292. corwin says:

    Definitely on the cart. Tonsilectomy wouldn’t have happened when I was 4, leading to nasty tonsilitis. Or the pulmonary embolism I had in grad school would have killed me but good. In a world of heavy labor, I probably would have blown out my double hernia much earlier than 30, and probably more spectacularly.

  293. Brian says:

    A post above mentioned that the only thing they’d had was strep throat, so they’d have survived. I think we all tend to diminish the effect of modern medicine. Strep was sometimes fatal before the advent of penicillin. In Stephen Ambrose’s “Wild Blue”, it’s mentioned that Robert Hammer had a sister that died of strep in 1938. I’m sure that’s the case for other maladies that are now of absolutely no concern – and therefore don’t register to us as potentially life-ending.

    No real point, except I think it’s mildly interesting.

  294. Matt J says:

    The cart for me.

    I had chicken pox and strep throat.
    I broke my arm twice, which would have left me handicapped back then.

    The real killer though, would have been the flu that I had when I was 15. It nearly sent me to the hospital for dehydration, and that’s with modern medicine.

  295. Cenobite says:

    milw770 @ 162:

    As an aside: This question raises the flip side question: How much longer are we living at end-of-life? Not just medications, but surgeries, feedings, pacemakers, defibrillators, and other implants. Now they're grafting onto nerves themselves (infancy of cybernetics) and stem cell research promises growing whole new organs and rejuvenating systems. How long should life be prolonged? When is the end?

    Can I play devil’s advocate here for just a sec?

    Now I might be mis-reading your comments…and I apologize in advance if that is so…but it seems to me as if you are somehow dreading any increase in longevity. Should we chuck all of our medicines and medical science out of the window, then, and go back to the caves?

    Please also keep in mind that life expectancy is a roughly averaged value of years which must take lots of things into account, not just medical science. One could argue that any type of technology makes life easier for someone, somewhere, by some measure, and that this can also contribute to longevity. The farmer needs no plow or ox, when he can buy the latest John Deere machines. The publisher need not dip quill into inkwell, nor set type (one letter at a time) into a printing press, when he has a desktop PC and a word-processing program. Etc.

    In fact, by the lights of science and technology, Mankind has every right and privilege to extend his lifespan, and those of his children unto the Nth generation, for as long as can be feasibly maintained, even to immortality.

  296. Shamus says:


    We have enough commenters here to strip down to our underpants and go defend Sparta.

    Or we would, if half of us weren’t dead.

  297. Nick says:

    I’m pretty sure I would be dead. I had a wicked and persistent run of strep infections when I was about 7 that culminated in a fever in excess of 104F and a big, painful shot of antibiotics in the ass. Without antibiotics and Tylenol, the infection might very well have cooked my brain and killed me right there, or complications and secondary infections following from it might have done the job.

  298. Namfoodle says:

    Hmm, never broke a bone, but I fell off my “Iron Pony” when I was 8 and had to get 14 stitches on my knee. But the wound was only skin deep, so probably not enough to lame me or put me “on the cart”. I had a few fevers as a little kid, but I don’t think it was anything too dangerous. Cold compresses and boiled bark should have kept me pulling the cart.

  299. Romanadvoratrelundar says:

    Had some broken bones that would’ve healed funny, and I’d have a scar on one cheek, and a lot less straight teeth. Oh, and I’d either be grumpy or drunk all the time.

    But I don’t know. I haven’t had any major medical occurances, unless you count potential infections that could have been serious? It’s fair to guess that my wisdom teeth (had they been allowed to grow in) would have become impacted and infected. Likewise I had lots of ear infections when I was very small, though I never “needed” tubes.

  300. Romanadvoratrelundar says:

    Another “potential” I’d forgotten: c-section. Conceivably my mom would’ve died but I wouldn’t have?

  301. Pffh says:

    I forgot my older sister had a difficult birth that would have offed both her and our mother in the middle ages, so I’m on the cart.

  302. Pffh says:

    Sorry for the double post, but I wouldn’t be on the cart, seeing as I would never have been born.

  303. Vulpin says:

    I suspect that I would have been pulling the cart.


  304. Stark says:

    On the cart. Viral meningitis when I was 3. Heck, it nearly killed me even with modern medicine!

    BTW – I saw a couple of folks who assumed they’d live through a bunch of ear infections as small children in the middle ages… that’s wrong. Ear infections killed MANY children in the middle ages and left even more of them stone deaf. Ear infections, left untreated, can become much serious infections and often do – a serious infection of any sort in the middle ages usually meant death.

  305. MOM says:

    Shamus has already commented on my probable demise at age 32 (that may have been close to the average life span then) but I thought I’d comment that many of those on the cart would have suffered the same fate only 100 years ago.
    Those born premature or very weak may have not made it even 25 years ago. And the survivor of luekemia took my breath away. The family tragedy in our family was the death of both the children of one of my mother’s sisters to luekemia and bone cancer. That sister is now 92, having outlived her children by 50 years. So one doesn’t have to go back to the middle ages to see big differences.

  306. renacier says:

    On the cart.
    Born with a deflated lung.

  307. Meems says:

    It’s possible that I’d have died at birth, but not certain IMHO. I was a few weeks premature but didn’t need any medical intervention once I was out. I did get stuck, though–apparently I only came when they threatened my mum with a c-section. Since they didn’t need to go through with it, though, I think I might have lived.

    I had chicken pox when I was little, and I’ve had flu twice, but none of those have been serious enough for me to need to see a doctor. Aside from that I’ve been very, very lucky never to get seriously injured or ill *touch wood*.

    So, I’m either alive and near-perfectly healthy, or I’m on the cart. There is no middle ground.

    However, my dad would have died as a young child when he had his head cracked open, so I wouldn’t exist in the first place.

  308. drow says:

    pulling the cart. i’m fine, though nearsighted.

    its worth noting that the ‘middle ages’ are still very recent, depending on where you live. my mom grew up in korea before and during their war, and lost a lot of siblings to simple causes. yay, america.

  309. Shamus said: “300 comments!

    We have enough commenters here to strip down to our underpants and go defend Sparta.

    Or we would, if half of us weren't dead.”

    So we’d be more like halftime at the Battle of Thermopylae. After the battle we’d ALL be dead.

  310. Hal says:

    Put me on the cart.

    If I wouldn’t have died in childbirth (my mother bled a lot before I was born), I’d have died by 19 (appendix).

    I did get “trampled by a horse” when I was 13, but all I got for it was a concussion, so I think I would have survived that.

  311. Blind Crippled Beggar Blacky: “Spare change for Sparta?”

    Question: Have we determined a specific geographical locale for our medieval lives? Are we in cities, hamlets, villages, shires, woods, desert, plains, farms, castle, church? This may make the difference on availability of healing monks, saw bones, village herbalist “I’m not a witch! They dressed me like this!”, and scientific advancements, considering lenses were developed in different parts of the world and sometimes used to assist in vision, though not as accurately as today, obviously…
    If we can nail down a specific year, we can also determine which part of the world had which medical resources available…
    Our current assumption seems to be a less living in medieval times scenario than living alone in a hut with absolutely no medical options….

    I can’t believe we are over 300 posts…

    “Spare change, FOR SPARTA!!!!”

  312. Huckleberry says:

    Just to redress the balance a bit, how about the corresponding question:

    Do you know any people who are dead but might have lived in the middle ages? I’m thinking of car accidents, shootings, illegal drugs …

    Obviously, the ratio would be FAR smaller than the other way round, but still.

  313. DocTwisted says:

    Let’s see… I think I’d be alive, but crippled. So I’d wind up in that 3rd column you didn’t put up, beggars.

    I’ve always had terrible nearsightedness, so I wouldn’t have been of much use at lots of things… and at age 12 I was in a motorcycle accident in which I broke my left arm and left leg. Without modern medicine, my left leg would probably not have been set correctly after, and I don’t think they had traction back then, so I’d walk with a really severe limp (if at all).

  314. brashieel says:

    On the cart. Concussion and minor skull fracture when I was 12. Would have been very, very dead.

  315. 10Kan says:

    I’d be one of those beggars, most likely. At age seventeen, I broke my dominant hand in a fall. I had to have a titanium plate and three screws inserted into my forearm, which are still there. Without modern surgical techniques and physical therapy, my dominant hand would be a useless, atrophied claw. I’m not sure how capable my brain would be at re-wiring itself to use my other hand exclusively, but I know I’d be unable to perform physical labor as well as an un-maimed person. I’ve also used orthodontics for many years to place an artificial tooth where an adult tooth never appeared, but I suspect that’d be the least of my dental problems in the middle ages.

  316. Matt Powell says:


    Spondylolisthesis (terrible back condition) rendered me paraplegic with intense pain from just sitting up, let alone standing. Lower spinal fusion, done when I was 13, saved me from, at the very best, a miserable life of begging and constant pain.

  317. Thijs says:

    I probably would have died at birth as I was 5 weeks early… Don’t know that for sure though :p

    also, even after surviving that, my chances would be slim as I’m quite nearsighted

  318. Thijs says:

    to reply to huckleberry, that ratio would be very biased because the people who actually died in this time-era but would have survived in the middle ages are not around to post

  319. Lord of Fools says:

    Hmm… I was a premmie so more than likely I wouldn’t have got far past birth. I wasn’t sick or anything though, just early, so maybe I would have. So… assuming I survived that…

    Yes, I would be the mother of about 4 kids by now and probably a widow to boot. Yay! I hope my in-laws try and marry me off to someone else quick.

  320. Ninja Raven says:

    well, I’d be a definite cripple (broke my leg before I turned 2). Likely dead due to the hot dog I choked on when I was 6 (’twas quite the spectacle). But my mother would never had made it past infancy – she has severe asthma. So… I guess I’d have been on Schrodinger’s cart in a state of quantum non/existence.

  321. gedece says:

    I’ve only had amigdala operation, which is not really necesary, and although I suffered a few diseases, none of them were life threatening. I think I would have made it, altought I’m not completely sure. Perhaps some of that diseases, untreated, could have evolved in something worse.

    On a related subject, this is about me being borne in the middle ages, but if we are talking about this body I’m in right now being sent to the past, I would survive, but countless others would not. We are inmunized to several disieases, and carry within mutated diseases that present no harm to us, but that same disease in a place full of people with no defenses againts it would surely prove fatal.

  322. Leni says:

    Pneumonia when I was a wee babe (3 months I think) should have gotten me. If not, appendicitis at 25 would have taken me and my son (I was 3 months pregnant at the time).

    I’m actually quite surprised at the number of people who would have survived.

  323. tom says:

    id be dead around 10 due to a really bad asthma attack

  324. At first I was thinking that I pretty much would have survived. I don’t have asthma, a bad heart, disabilities or anything of the sort.

    Then I remembered that as a baby I had to be put in a ‘steam cube’ of sorts so that I could breathe and not quite literally cough my lungs out.

    I’m on the cart.

  325. Nic says:

    I’d be alive and well- I’ve never had major, or many minor medical concerns (then again, we’ve all had the flu at some point, and that would probably have killed us off back then). Other than that, no major injuries, no broken bones or anything.

    The thing is, I’m in a medieval reenactment group and so I like taking this into account. My first battle, my first war, I was an archer. I’m a real good archer too. That didn’t stop an arrow in the first minute coming out of nowhere and hitting me right in the middle of my guts.

    Back then, that’s a death sentence. A long and painful one too. The only way to survive that is if I was a certain member of the MacLeod family.

  326. Jerril says:

    Dead of appendicitis at 23…

    Presuming that one of the many upper respiratory infections I had as a child and required antibiotics didn’t kill me…

    that the industrial accident involving nasty chemicals I’ve had as an adult didn’t kill me (probably a mining incident or leather tanning accident in the dark ages, I guess)…

    Or that my major sinus infections as an adult wouldn’t kill me (yay fever of 103F even with anti-pyretic drugs and massive overpreasure in the sinuses…)

    Or my asthma which is probably environmentally induced but is much worse since the aforementioned accident…

    And if I somehow miraculously survived all of that, I’d be deaf from ear infections and I’m nearsighted as all hell, which is inherited, not caused by reading or anything.

    On the cart.

  327. Thiago says:

    I´ve had some bad flus and fevers, but never went to a hospital because of them, neither had to use any strong medicine.

    A broken arm at twelve was only a minour fissure to the bone and I never had any internal organ problems.

    So you can count on me pulling that cart around!

  328. Miral says:

    I’m probably on the cart too. Nothing major for most of my life — except that once at a young age I fell three stories and cracked my head open (only a little bit, but it required lots of stitches). I doubt that would have been survivable back then. (On the other hand, I probably wouldn’t have gotten into that particular situation in the first place, so who knows?)

  329. NeoPaladin says:

    I would have made it, medically speaking…though I am amazed that I am still alive at all given the crazy amount of idiotic things I did (free climbing serious walls, jumping off of a horse at full gallop, etc.) I should have been dead in the MODERN world, I’ve been workin’ them Angels overtime … but in terms of medical issues, not a one, no sicknesses, illnesses, no broken anything, etc. Lots of bruises and sprains…which might have hindered me against brigands

  330. Kelsi says:

    To my great surprise, I would have lived. I mean, assuming that flu didn’t kill me…but my flu bouts were never really treated with medicine, just went away after 24 hrs. due to the fact that our immune systems are stronger these days. So I think I can count that as a “not dying.”

  331. Sybarite says:

    Hrm… if I survived childbirth (I was a c-section baby), I would be alive but possibly infertile, and might have some unpleasant digestive problems. On the flip side, take me back to the middle ages, and the digestive problems may never have developed since my diet would have been more “lean and green” and less “meat and sweet”. I would also be a lot thinner back then, and potentially suffered from marasmus or some other nutritional deficiency if I was a lowly peasant woman. On the plus side, I would have perfect vision however, since mine was mildly ruined by MUDding on old VAX terminals.

    Oh, regarding early marriages: You could get married at 12, but a girl wouldn’t have begun to had kids until her body weight was high enough to allow for the start of menstruation (which back then would have ranged from 14-17, as opposed to the 11-12 which is common now).

  332. Space Ace says:

    Like anyone will read this:

    Anyway, I think the current view of the Middle Ages is incredibly and unreasonably bleak, and possible a result of Renaissance snobbism (the same kind of snobbism which made people think Knights were unwieldy brutes for centuries). That and an unhealthy dose of Western self-loathing.

    The thing to keep in mind is that the human body evolved for a brutish existence of fending off large predators and eating raw meat. It’s not a dainty, little Swiss clock that breaks down if a mote of dust gets into the wrong place. Sure, a few are claimed by design flaws now and then, but still. And another thing to remember is that people in the Middle Ages were as smart as they are today. These are people that built castles and cathedrals that still stand today and travelled halfway across the world to fight some people they really didn’t like. And while their medical knowledge might not have been on par with ours, I’m fairly sure it wasn’t the strange, barbaric affair most people seem to think it was. One English king, for instance, was shot in the face with an arrow. And survived thanks to medical treatment.

    My father always points out how he wouldn’t have survived because he got ill as a kid. But illness without modern medicine doesn’t automatically mean death. Ihad some surgery as a child, but could have survived perfectly without (I wish I did, the scar-tissue sucks). The only real problem would be my eyes, which are, due to milennia of civilisation, are of the nerdy variety. But aside from that, hell, I wouldn’t even have had bad teeth.

  333. Simon Jester says:

    I’ve heard it theorized that one of the big reasons so many moderns have bad eyesight is that we spend so much of our time with our eyes focused in the near distance. More to the point, we do so [i]in childhood[/i]. So our eyes get trained for reading text and doing homework at a desk, and a lot of us develop serious nearsightedness as a result.

    That doesn’t mean we’d be blind in a medieval society, because if we were illiterate we wouldn’t have spent so much time reading and writing indoors in less-than-daylight as children.

    For that matter, even pretty serious nearsightedness might not be as big a problem as you think. Unless your vision is truly abysmal you can still [i]see[/i]. You won’t walk into a wall or blunder off a cliff because of nearsightedness. So it won’t kill you, and for a lot of tasks it may not even inconvenience you. It’s such a pain in the butt for moderns because we spend so much of our time reading and watching screens; medievals didn’t do that.

    Likewise, a lot more moderns have asthma; asthma was a much rarer condition say, fifty years ago. It may be the fault of air pollution and reduced exposure to dust during the formative years of our immune systm.

    So in a sense our bodies [i]are[/i] getting more fragile. Our life expectancy has doubled mainly because we’re better at protecting very young children from things that they couldn’t possibly have dealt with anyway, and because we’re better at keeping everyone well fed.

    I think I might very well be pulling the cart, simply because I would have been such a different person with such a different background if I had been born in a medieval society.

  334. Laura says:

    I don’t think I would have made it through my childhood without at least getting crippled. I was way too clumsy. In a child-proofed house, with good supervision, I broke my left hand and sprained my ankles more times than I can count (a couple times bad enough for crutches). I still fall down the stairs regularly. Without my desperately-needed glasses, my tendency to fall down would be ten times worse, because I couldn’t even -try- to avoid the stuff on the ground. Plus, I wouldn’t be able to stay inside all the time where I am safe. Eventually, I’d fall in a way that killed me (broken neck, big bloody cut that gets infected, etc).
    So I’m looking at death sometime after I learned to walk, but before I hit puberty, probably. Alas.

  335. Spencer says:

    I’ve been run over, shot, and had meningitis. So I would have either been dead at age 7, 8, or 15.

  336. Raved Thrad says:

    Just a thought (and forgive the crappy comment): how many of us have had a run-in with diarrhoea? Even up to the 1930s people still died due to dehydration after eating unsanitary food (like my mom’s sister). Any cart-pullers out there who’ve had a case of the runs might want to consider that they might have ended up on the cart, too :))

    Strange how much has changed in under a hundred years. It’s not often we think of how much more has changed since the Dark Ages.

  337. Miako says:

    wow. 341st post! (read ’em all to get down here!)

    to respond:
    >The thing to keep in mind is that the human body evolved >for a brutish existence of fending off large predators and >eating raw meat.

    … some people’s bodies did, at any rate. The fighters, who had to deal with bleedy injuries, mostly. My husband’s family (who were fighters back then) has “sticky blood” — horrid thing to have with modern medicine (gotta take blood thinners), but back then it would have been a lifesaver.

    > It's not a dainty, little Swiss clock that breaks down if >a mote of dust gets into the wrong place.

    *yawn* we evolved to resist fire. that’s about how far evolution has taken us. yes, many people survived broken bones with less problems than you might think…

    > Sure, a few are claimed by design flaws now and then, but >still. And another thing to remember is that people in the >Middle Ages were as smart as they are today.

    baloney. the problems with middle ages were systemic — the most inbred nobles were quite effective at crushing the spirits of the smart peasants (what few there were). Intelligence doens’t matter without the systems (like systematic science) to propagate knowledge.

    >And while their medical knowledge might not have been on >par with ours, I'm fairly sure it wasn't the strange, >barbaric affair most people seem to think it was. One >English king, for instance, was shot in the face with an >arrow. And survived thanks to medical treatment.

    fevers were treated with bloodletting. look at aristotle, and you might be able to say how “barbaric” and ineffective it was.

  338. Miako says:

    As for myself, I’m quite firmly pulling the cart, even with my nearsightedness. I think i’ve a con of 17 or so.

    That is, if we’re talkign about the beginning of the dark ages. I wouldn’t have been Jewish then.

    See, I notice that most of my relatives come from wildly different places — so I worry about inbreeding, something that hasn’t affected my current life. maybe i’ll ask me mum about what kind of genetic diseases run in my family

  339. Miako says:

    If I’m pulling the cart, my husband would be in it. dead of torture for sticking his nose where it didn’t belong — that is, if the fish/metal/everything except peanuts and maple trees allergies didn’t kill him.

  340. Miako says:

    … So, if someone has performed unanesthetized surgery on themselves, with non-sterilized tools, and survived — does that count as “on the cart” or not?

    … this is what I get for knowing people who memorize the Vietnam-era Army First Aid manual.

  341. Robert says:

    I’d have died at six months. I nearly did die, even with modern medicine.

  342. Tola says:


    The problem(quite apart from the fact I was born quite prematurely)? My RACE.

    I don’t believe there was much contact with black people back then. The result is if I existed, I wouldn’t be….me. I’d be a full African. Which might be one of the better places to be living, I think…

    If I was around in England in the Middle Ages….I’d hate to think what would have happened.

    Actually, that’s something to consider-location and race.

  343. Antiquated Tory says:

    Appendicitis at 13, so On the Cart.

    Well, Jewish on both sides. My mother’s family was having a fine time in Moorish Spain until the Reconquista, but Lord alone knows where my father’s family was. Getting kicked out of cities in what would eventually be Germany at some point, probably.

    Btw, one thing I like about Warhammer FRP is that it was clearly written in a country that had a Middle Ages and by people who understood that it sucked.

  344. Nazdakka says:

    Pulling the cart. I’ve never broken a bone or had a serious illness.

  345. jeneralist says:

    On the cart.
    The membrane around my heart swelled up when I was 7. (Pericardium swells too much, the heart doesn’t have room to beat. That’s bad.)

    Even in the current era, it was touch-and-go. My folks got The Talk from my doctor.

  346. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    Interesting question,indeed.I wouldve survived for sure,but the question is what kind of life would I have lead?Considering the connections and the job my mother does,Id probably be anoble,so my weak vision wouldnt hamper me.However,my father is not in such a high position,so maybe Id be born a commoner,in which case my vision would have hampered me a lot(not so much to kill me,but to make me miserable for sure).Other than that,I had no major illnesses nor surgeries(I had my tonsiles removed,but that was optional).

  347. Nathaniel says:

    I’ve thought of this before, and I’d definately be on the cart.

    There were some very serious complications with my birth (not sure exactly…) but if by some odd circumstance I had survived that, I probably would’ve bled out or gotten an infection by busting open my chin.

    Barring all that, I’d be a blind beggar. I can’t see a thing without my glasses.

  348. Joel D says:

    Let’s see… I broke my wrist around age 12, but it was my offhand, so that wouldn’t be TOO crippling. I’d probably manage.

    Oh wait. I just remebered that cough I had when I was 14 that lasted for over 3 months, even with numerous medications. Yeah, looks like I’m on the cart.

  349. Tess says:

    Don’t know if anyone will read this far to respond, but here’s something that hasn’t been touched on yet, as far as I know. Would I have “survived” clinical depression, especially in my 20s? Perhaps the “No Suicide Allowed” church rule would have been enough of a deterrent, but it’s hard to say. Perhaps I would have gone insane, hmm that might’ve been kinda fun…

  350. Miako says:

    Clinical Depression…

    Is that hereditary?

    Otherwise, like autism, I might just give you a pass, particularly if you had a trigger that would have been highly atypical in the middle ages (trying to find a job, trying to fall in love)

  351. Tom says:

    WOOT!!! burst appendix’s (sp.?) rock the world!!

    dead buy eleven, if not b4.

    lost my toe by 8 months and had a mangled arm by 15, let no one tell u that rugby is less violent then american football, not true!

  352. Ellie says:

    I think I might have made it.

    I’ve never had any major illnesses or broken bones, and while I needed glasses when I was a kid, my eyesight was still decent.

    That’s provided I didn’t die of the flu or a cold or something. Which was totally possible in the Middle Ages.

  353. Carter says:

    Let’s see…The only things I can think of are a broken arm at age 10 or so (not compound, but both bones in the forearm, probably a nasty crippling at best), and my eyesight.

    Now, I have bad eye sight. I won’t lie. However, I harder consider myself blind. True, without my glasses I’m helpless at reading, have trouble distinguishing details and even people at close distance. But could I plow the earth? sow seeds, cut down crops, pick fruit and vegetables? Most definately. Or at least I feel so.

    But, with the arm, I’m guessing I’m a begger more likely than not.

  354. Knaight says:

    I might have survived. I took a cut that needed 3 stitches on the back of my head when I was 10(some idiot put on a somewhat sharp campfire pit, and the back end hit my head. So basically a fall, it could easily happen in the medieval ages), but it was only 3 stitches, and they had stitches back then, even if they weren’t as reliable, and might be infected. So I could easily have died of the infection. My younger brother Nolan would have died at birth though. I guess I would be pulling the cart, since the cut wasn’t really all that bad. I would have survived in ancient greece, especially in Athens. So put Knaight under pulling the Cart, and Nolan under in the cart.

  355. Robbi says:

    No asthma or allergies here. No serious illnesses. No broken bones, no surgeries. Hearty peasant stock on both sides of my family tree. I think I’d be okay.

  356. fren says:

    I’d likely have been dead, only by virtue of being hale and hearty enough to have been put out in the front rank of Ye Peasant’s Column of Lord What’s-his-face’s army.

    Barring that, I’d have been pulling the cart.

  357. Brickman says:

    I think I died of Lime’s disease (I can never remember how it was spelled). Actually, I have no idea if that actually used to kill people, but I’m assuming it must have. If not, my ADHD probably got me into a duel over someone’s honor I offended or something. Even if I survived, though, that one ear infection would probably have left me in the non-existent “beggar” column.

  358. Corsair says:

    Wow, people are still posting on this. You should do morbid stuff more often, Shamus.

  359. Varil says:

    Hmmm…I think I’d be alive. I can’t think of anything that has ever put me in the hospital, unless I was very young and my mother just never mentioned it. No illnesses that required medicine for anything but comforting the symptoms, no broken bones, no medical emergencies. Get on the cart, I’ll get ya where yer goin’.

  360. John says:

    Yes, I would have died too. I had pyloric stenosis as a baby. My stomach muscle was closed off requiring surgery for food to pass through. Still got a 4″ scar on stomach

  361. Taehl says:

    Interesting question… I’ve had few major injuries or illnesses… One thing that comes to mind is the time I had my nose… relocated by a highschool bully who /really/ didn’t appreciate my questioning of his sexuality, even though it was an attempt to make him stop touching me… /Anyway/. Assuming that incident didn’t give me an infection (and I was bleeding like a stuck pig), without modern medicine, I would no doubt be disfigured for the rest of my life, my nose practically under my right eye… Not a nice thought.

    I get colds very commonly, but have never had a serious disease. Oh, and this also assumes I wouldn’t kill myself due to lack of mental stimulation ;)

    So I guess I would probably be alive… But I’d not be in a good way. Final verdict: I’d die by the blade of a disgusted noble that I didn’t pay the proper respect to (seeing as how I have serious issues with any authority that doesn’t prove itself in my eyes). On the cart.

  362. vdgmprgrmr says:

    I would be alive and well.

    I have suffered no injuries in life, save for some demon-possessed toes that came at a rate of nearly two a week for about a year.

    I suffered from the flu at about four, AND six, but, my parents, who were, and still are, firm believers in the statement, “You’ll get through it,” never took me to the doctor, and I recovered naturally without medication (I have a hellacious immune system).

    I don’t really feel like pulling a cart with that many people on it, though, so go ahead and list me as having hit the bucket.

  363. Kris says:

    I do believe I would have made it. No major illnesses, no broken bones, no hospital visits. I’d probably be misreable without the advent of tissues, as I have allergies that are annoying, but don’t require medication.

    That’s again, assuming that my parents had survived long enough to have me. Which is more doubtful.

  364. Celti says:

    I’m really not sure. I’ve survived several infections without the use of antibiotics (ah, being too poor for freakin’ insurance), but I’ve had far more with. Nothing majour, though. I’d likely be a crazy beggar, or a hermit/prophet, lacking my psychiatric medications. Probably short a working left thumb (sliced tendon), nearly blind (two corrective eye surgeries and glasses)… but I may well be alive, unless I got burned at the stake for being infernally lucky.

  365. william says:

    I wouldn’t even had made it out of the womb… i was a C-section baby.

  366. colin says:

    Besides the fact that my eyesight isn’t the best, I’d live.

  367. Packy says:

    Nice site you have here. Just stumbled upon this uber-comment thread and thought I’d throw in my 2c.

    I’ve never really been into a hospital or done anything serious, so I’d be perfectly healthy and alive. Well, except for a few strained muscles playing football… Does that get translated into jousting accidents? Because that would be cool…

  368. Sydney says:

    I would have died of pneumonia at 17.

  369. Chris Arndt says:

    When I was ten or so I had my tonsils out.

    Beyond that I assume I’d outlive all of you bastards… and start bashing some Romans with my club and take their gold.

  370. Jessie Bullwinkle says:

    I got Hepatitis B from drinking too much when I was 15. Then I got Amoebiasis when I was 19. I think I would have survived Hep B long enough to get killed by severe dehydration from Amoebiasis.

  371. Mike Wilson says:

    No broken bones.
    No surgery
    Never been in a hospital but to visit.
    Parents in similar health through their 50s.

  372. Tordek says:

    Okay, so my worsts are… cut my forehead open at 5, but that got fixed by stitches (cauterization should take care of that); an awful burn from boiling water that magically left no scars at 10; and Mono at 12.

    I think I could live, assuming my head didn’t get an awfully nasty infection from the head wound.

  373. sean says:

    I think my chances would have been above average. I was born almost a month late placing me at a higher advantage from birth. This additional time would have allowed for more development which would give me a higher statical chance of living through my early years. But being a large baby any complications like they occurred for my mother when I was born would have killed her.

    I have had no major health issues to overcome, all would be up to chance in that timeframe

  374. L-God says:

    I would have definitely been on the cart and my mom too. She had severe hemorrhaging giving birth. Which I’m sure that would have not turned out well.
    I eventually had my feet amputated, which allowed me to walk. However, if that never happened I would have been wheelchair (or wagon) bound. Either way I would have died from a severe infection at about 12.

  375. Vertis says:

    I had Pneumonia when I was about 15, I never ended up in hospital, but I did take Penicillin. I’d say even chances on that one, but, I rarely get the flu for more than a couple of days so I’m going to go with survived but with a long convalescence.

  376. Creepy Crawley says:

    I’d be on the cart from 3 months in.

    When I was born, I had no soft-spots. What the doctors had to do was make a 56 stitch incision on my skull (from ear to ear at a 30 degree from horizontal). Then they proceeded to cut my skull going down to my eyelids and reconstruct my whole forehead.

    If they didnt: There was a story with an old family friend that it happened during the 1890’s. When the little girl reached about 3 years old, her head cracked open. Literally.

    My SO also would have headed off to the cart. She was born 3 months early and had extensive surgery to keep her alive.

    BTW: we both had 6+ units of blood transfusion… and we were both during the “No HIV test” times.

  377. Heresaw says:

    Wow, what an interesting take.

    I would have made it physically speaking, no major ailments to complain of.

    Whether I’d be tough enough to survive in those times, is another question. I guess I would have been though, had I grown up then, being from serf stock.

    Thank god I live now though :)

  378. Robbie the Robot says:

    I am a robot. I would have been fine.

  379. Sugar Fix says:

    I recorded a song based on a similar thread over on marginalrevolution.com. The question was, how would you survive if transported back to the middle ages with nothing but the clothes on your back.


  380. max says:

    To be fair though you likely would not have had asthma, its wide presence is a modern phenomena (for unknown reasons).

  381. huffer says:

    I would have (and dare to say did) made it :)

    I was (and hopefully be from now on as long as possible) healthy as a bull (worst case of illness I remember was common infuenza, and I passed by it with no medication — anyway, it was not the type to die from). No accidents or anything else that needed special modern day intervention.

    But you must remember the vaccines you receive when you’re young: that will certainly spoil the statistics.

    As of my parents, I think they would have made it as well, be it the XIInd century or the XXth – at least until they would have given birth to me and raised me to a certain age.

    So, as an animal, I would have survived… As a human however, in today’s society, my doubts are stronger and stronger :)

  382. Scott says:

    Would have died when I was born. Born breach, Butt first, not legs… Lungs collapsed right when I was born. If it wasn’t for the ONLY hospital in Florida with a prenatal center, I would have died.

    Thank you modern medicine…

  383. Dead at 18 with Testicular Cancer.

  384. I actually would have done pretty well until the age of 26, when I would have suddenly died from the mysterious affliction known as Diabetes (even back then, they knew what it was by tasting the urine as part of the autopsy process).

    Is that a rife old age in medieval times? I suspect they might have considered me to have had a full life…

  385. cm says:

    I was born with a heart defect that has a 90% mortality rate in the first year if uncorrected.

  386. herval says:

    Interesting question indeed… :-)

    Besides one deaf ear (got a surgery when I was 6 months old), guess I’d be ok (and a lot thinner without any Burger King or Pizza Hut around!)

    But man, I’d kill myself without Internet… :-P

  387. Phreaky Phil says:

    I am 5’10 inches and 210 i would be dead by now not for any medical reason. But i am pretty sure i would have died with valor in combat by now. age 22

  388. Falco Rusticula says:

    Stepped on a broken teapot in a muddy stream at the age of seven or eight. The cut required stitches. Even if I hadn’t picked up something nasty (like, say…tetanus) I likely would have been weak on that foot for the rest of my life.

    I also had mild asthma when very young, though I don’t know if that would’ve klled me.

  389. Low-Level DM says:

    I was born C-section, so that there might have done it for me, but assuming I got through that I’d be okay, except for the fact that I’m pretty badly nearsighted. Still, if I’d taken up a job as a scribe or cleric, I might have made it (I can read fine, but can’t make out much that’s more than a room or two away.)

  390. Sean says:

    Probably alive – I’ve managed to avoid any major injuries or illnesses. A lot of it depends on the social class I was born into – I’d never survive if I had to hunt without glasses, for instance, and many peasants needed to be able to hunt to support themselves. If I were a noble, my family would have shuffled me off into the clergy and done their best to forget I ever existed. In terms of lifespan, that’s probably the best opportunity anyway.

  391. Icewind says:

    Hm… would be alive as far as I remember.. Not having had any major infections/broken bones/diseases… I would be a little bit short sighted, but thats prolly due to reading/computers… currently 23, so I would have my own children by now, of which a couple died… hm…

  392. Autumn says:

    No, probably not. I had a mild case of walking pneumonia, had a bad tooth (with a pus pocket), and had a bad colon problem when I was younger, and if I had any kids I wouldn’t have survived childbirth. And let’s not forget my sorry excuse for an immune system. Yup, I wouldn’t have made it.

  393. General Karthos says:

    Well, seeing as the last post was only about two months back, I guess I should add myself. I had no life-threatening illnesses as a kid. I got through Strep Throat (not sure how life-threatening that is) and H1N1 as a college student. Didn’t even know that I’d HAD H1N1 until AFTER it had happened. I recovered naturally. (Of course, my health would have been more fragile in the early times, so who knows for sure, but I’ve been lucky.)

    In terms of injuries, I have never broken a bone (even a finger or toe), never had a REALLY bad injury (got pretty well scraped up falling off my bike, but I think I would have survived even in the middle ages, since it wasn’t major injuries.

    Ah, but my wisdom teeth grew in impacted. That would have killed me in medieval times through a horrible, festering infection in my jaw. So yeah… I’d actually be on the cart.

  394. Supah_Ewok says:

    In the interests of moving this post toward 400 comments, I’m not sure where I’d end up. I had a long string of ear infections as a child, which, if they didn’t kill me, (not sure of the lethality of ear infections) would have left me with impaired hearing/deaf. And in between those I’d get strep throat, which I got through with penicillin.

    Edit: And 400! Is this the longest running comment string on this blog? When is Shamus going to run out of different kinds of dice for these posts :P

  395. Bryan says:

    So this got linked again, from http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=9189 — and I have to comment. I’d have been in the cart at age 2.

    Hooray for insulin!

  396. Klay F. says:

    I would have totally been 6 feet underground by the time I turned 19. I got Ulcerative Colitis about right after my 19th birthday and I had to have my entire large intestine removed. No way in hell would I have survived that surgery.

  397. Lina says:

    Probably would have lived. I was a tad underweight when I was born, otherwise there have been no particular complications to this point (thank god). So yep, pulling the cart :P.

  398. Rachael says:

    I have a heart defect that almost killed me as it is, so curtains for me. My dad would have died at fifteen of kidney disease. My mother probably would have died of anemia fairly young. One of my sisters would have died of an infection probably, but the other would have survived.

  399. Kristi says:

    That’s not actually true. It is true, that nobles and people with wealth did marry young, but they didn’t have sex regularly as they pent most times seperated from their spouses. They married early to secure alligences between families and countries and to begin to take advantages of those allegiances. They waited until a more acceptable age to actually conssumate the marriages. In England the age of consent was 18, and in Scotland 16. That’s where the custom of running off to Gretna Green to marry came from.

    Most pesants in the middle ages didn’t marry and reproduce until their mid to late 20’s to ensure that they wouldn’t have many children (and more mouths to feed) and cut their females survival rate down to something more acceptable.

    While the main reason for marriage was reproduction, that was, once again, mostly concerning the wealthy as they needed an heir.

    This is one of those common misconceptions, right up there with the fact that medieval bastard swords must have weighed 30 pounds. When it comes down to it, people back then weren’t any stupider than we are today, and they would know how to avoid certian things. Many forms of birth control have been around for thousands of years.

    They have found an ancient Mesopotamian scroll, dated 1850 BC, that includes oral and other forms of protection against birth control.
    For as long as women have been having sex with men, there have been contraceptives of some form or another.

  400. I would probably have lived, since I’ve never had any medicine of the “YOU NEED THIS TO LIVE” variety. However, I did once have a major debilitating spinal condition which was corrected by surgery. I’d have made it to my 20’s, at least, but probably would be stuck in some tower ringing bells and talking to gargoyles, which was apparently what hunchbacks did in those days.

  401. xXDarkWolfXx says:

    I wouldnt have made it because i dont think they have a method for extracting newborns with slightly oversized heads from the womb without killing the mother

  402. Ardis Meade says:

    I am like MacDuff, who was “from his mother’s womb / Untimely ripp’d”, but if I survived birth I would be fine. Maybe a bit hard of hearing from the occasional ear infection but healthy. It’s quite possible that without as much food to pig out on and all the manual labor to counteract my slow metabolism, I might be in better shape than I am now.

  403. Soupie says:

    I am a twin amd was born 2.5 months early. I would be dead. Also around the age of four, I got many ear infections, im clumsy….gotten many open wounds and infections from tripping over stuff. Severe migrains…..I’d be so dead.

  404. Chloe says:

    Okay, I’m a bit slow but I would have made it :) YAY!

  405. Vickie in TX says:

    I probably would not have survived. My mother had complications when I was born. We both almost died. I was in a car accident at 4 and had I not been in front of a medical building I would have bled to death. At twenty-five found out that I was lucky to be alive when they removed a ten pound ovarian cyst and later three more large cysts. I would have never had my children either, because they wouldn’t have been able to do the microsurgery necessary to correct my inability to have children. So I must say I feel blessed today. This is a cool post. Thanks for creating the site. :)

  406. SInistermanualist says:

    I would not have made it. I would have been burned at the stake for my left-handed witch-craft.

  407. La Fifille says:

    I’m pretty sure I would have made it. I got a tiny bit sick with jaundice after birth, but apart from that I’ve been almost completely healthy. I also have extremely mild acid reflux, but that’s only a small annoyance and doesn’t cause any problems, so I’d take my chances ;) The only thing I’d be worried about is that I’m a small, pretty, weak girl and a little clumsy, so work would’ve been hard to find and the chance of being raped/kidnapped would’ve been…too high for comfort.

  408. Pingback: URL
  409. stefano marone says:

    on the cart… I was born by forceps.

  410. Violetta says:

    Fascinating discussion! (Sorry I’m five years late!)

    I don’t think I’d have died of an illness; I’ve never had one that required urgent medical treatment. The one time I thought I was going to die from an as-yet-unidentified respiratory malfunction, it went away in two weeks on its own after the nurse prescribed stomach pills and I refused to take them because I was convinced that I don’t breathe with my stomach.
    There was the time I had to leave my college class early to get a shot due to a sudden reaction to spoiled fish, but the symptoms didn’t even get to movement-inhibiting levels. That was the time I called up my family to tell them what happened, only to hear that they’d had a nightmare about my dying from it and held a prayer vigil days earlier. o_o
    That’s kind of how we address all our problems, even in the era of modern medicine. Even the remission of my mother’s cancer didn’t correspond to the pattern of what drugs she was or wasn’t given at any particular time, it followed the pattern of our spiritual activities and the herbs we smuggled into the hospital for her. Starting from my parents’ adulthood when they got to make their own health decisions, as long as Mom managed to survive the C-section of my younger sister, the whole family most likely could have handled whatever a medieval lifestyle threw at us.
    And then we’d have been burned as witches–especially me, thanks to my pathological inability to keep things to myself. I freak out MODERN people by asking them about OBEs and shadow people. I’d be toast in a society that took me seriously.

    Now I’m imagining my medieval self going into hiding from the lynch mobs and then starving to death with a cavern full of fresh berries just because I’m too absent-minded to eat regularly without prompting. Or trying to pet a cute fuzzy bear and bleeding to death on the forest floor while it ate my limbs. Or forgetting to sleep until I hallucinated and fell off a cliff. Or forgetting why I was in hiding in the first place and trying to ask the Inquisition if I could borrow a copy of the Apocrypha. My hypothetical ancient life is complicated. ^_^;

  411. BookWorm848 says:

    I’d never have been born. My grandmother on my mother’s side had 3 cesarians (and this was back when they only did those when necessary) and my mother was the third. I’m the oldest of 3 and was a cesarian (again, necessary, not planned). Given I’d survived that I’d be just fine. No bad illnesses(chicken pox, a couple colds), no flu or infections. I would have horrid teeth and be short sighted (but probably not so much it would affect my health).

  412. Galad says:

    Necro time! :P

    I might not have survived. I’m “only” 26, and have had no major or chronic illnesses that would require me to take medicine regularly, but I did have some sort of nether region surgery when I was a little kid, which would’ve been impossible in the middle ages. something about declogging the tubes of the weenie, iirc Whether not fixing this would let me live to 26 in the middle ages, I don’t know, but I’d guess the odds are against.

  413. Mr. Son says:

    Oh good, I’m not the first 2013er popping in here.

    I was a cesarean birth, and took about almost 2 minutes to start breathing, so I think I might have been out of the running from the start.

    And that’s not even digging back into my family’s medical history. Which is… varied.

  414. Aldowyn says:

    Alive, I think. I had a few infections as a kid, but nothing fatal, and seasonal allergies don’t generally kill a person. Pretty blind, though.

  415. Tvtim says:

    I think I’d have been fine really. The only real problem I had was getting a tooth pulled, and one time when I broke a finger in gym class (which being in the middle ages, no gym class, no broken finger).

    HOWEVER; i’m too lazy to pull a cart, I’d just jump on for a ride and jump off some time later when the puller wasn’t looking.

  416. reedsgran says:

    On the cart! Breast cancer , angioplasty, gall bladder. And that’s just for starters.

  417. Caitlyn says:

    I would be alive and kicking. In fact, I’d probably live even longer back then, since I wouldn’t have unlimited junk food and a TV or computer to keep me lazy.

  418. Vorthulus says:

    I would probably be in the cart as I suffer from asthma and epilepsy and if that didn’t get me the spinal meningitis or salmonella I’ve had probably would’ve finished the job.

  419. hamilton says:

    have you ever wondered why our for-fathers were more healthy and lived longer than us, as for injuries there were people who specialize on massaging broken and shifted joints back to its original position. and i have seen a situation where a woman in labor was unable to born because the baby was not in the right position, but one old man was able to position the baby without the help of anybody the woman gave birth safely.

  420. lucky7 says:

    Caesarian Birth. If I made it, my mom and my little brother wouldn’t have (he was Caesarian as well)

  421. Thomas Adamson says:

    Barring some sort of septicemia resulting from many cuts and abrasions I am totally pulling the cart.

  422. YeahNo says:

    I have a very cancerous gene….super cancerous. My chances at cancer are 50/50. I have asthma, but if I were a knight and trained to be one since I could train, I’d be healthy and most likely woundnt need an inhaler. Pollution today is a major cause. But once I hit my twenties, I would most likely have cancer, leukemia…prostate…or throat. The commons in my family. My sis might have made it but I think she was born with pneumonia, which wasn’t even treatable until the 1950s, even then it was harsh.

  423. Raven_Sloth says:

    I don’t have much hope in this case. Though I have had no life threatening injures, I almost got pneumonia once, it was awful, and when I was around 5 the eye doctor told my dad that if he didn’t get me glasses I would go blind. I’m not so sure about this, but when I take off my glasses I can see fine and get a headache or I can straighten my eyes, see nothing, and still be able to think. But hey I don’t have allergies and I’m not sure most other people would have them since some parasites that would be common place during this time will actually stop you from having allergic reactions to pets and pollen.

  424. moonlup says:

    Since Shamus linked this post today, I don’t feel bad replying to it.

    I’m not sure if I would’ve survived. I never had any major illnesses as a kid, though I was legally blind until my LASIK procedure. And I was hit by a car when I was 4 or so, but all it did was knock me out. The hospital released me the same day.

    Given my current career of working with animals, I might have lost a finger or hand, though, due to cat and dog bites. I’ve taken more antibiotics in the past three years than I have in my entire life.

    Mom had major depression and apparently heart issues, so she’s gone. Dad probably died when I was five and he was out with the flu. If I remember correctly, he nearly did anyway. We were kinda poor and couldn’t afford hospital visits except for the most serious of things.

    Besides missing a finger, my brother is fine.

  425. Wide And Nerdy says:

    Got an interesting one. The one time I was at any real risk of dying as a kid was when the ocean nearly pulled me out. Some guy (not a lifeguard) swam out and saved me. Now, people didn’t generally know how to swim back then so on the one hand there might not have been a guy there to save me, on the other hand, I don’t think I’d have been in the ocean if I didn’t know how to swim.

  426. Tomcat says:

    Born C-Sec, I would have survived normal birth, my mother probably not.
    had no Major health problems until 15, then came some pretty bad “growing pains” arthritis that had me unable to walk for more than 500m or so which finally went away at around 21, and last year at 24 I developed crohn’s, so I would be horrifically malnourished and probably would have shat out ALL my blood by now.

    so just Chuck me in a ditch plant some flowers and have done with.

    I’d figure I would have had some sprogs by age 24 since I was going at it from my early teens anyway and they had no such thing as contraceptive back then so at-least my genes would have a slight chance of surviving

  427. Scampi says:

    Interesting-I never came across this post before. I guess I’d have made it to the age of 32 but with some little annoying problems (I needed my labial frenulum cut and such small operations) and probably some serious pain while doing physical work due to a broken hand I suffered last year. Elseways I seem to be rather resistent to most inconvenience: I don’t use medication, don’t get injured much and even enjoy the luck of genetically healthy teeth.
    So…bring out your dead?

  428. capnhook says:

    Well, I’m only 20 but at this point I’d still be aces. No surgery, no illnesses beyond minor colds or fevers, and I’ve never suffered worse injury than a rolled ankle. Heck, I’d even still have a mouthful of teeth! This young dutch lad would be hauling that cart with the best of them.

  429. Abnaxis says:

    Wow, how did I never see this post before now?

    I’ve been type I diabetic (the insulin-dependent kind, that they used to call juvenile-onset) since I was eight. I would have died painfully and horribly before puberty.

    So yeah, definitely on the cart. In fact, if I ever got stranded in time in the middle ages, I would wind up on the cart within a matter of weeks.

  430. archon1212 says:

    i would have died at birth – there was a slit in my diaphram which made it improsible to breath and i would have suffocated as soon as i had to breath on my own.

  431. Peter says:

    I would have been on the cart after about six weeks (meningitis), if I had survived being born “the wrong way around” (not head-first)

  432. Paul Spooner says:

    Building the cart.
    No broken bones or major medical problems. Worst I’ve got is hay-fever, but not life-threatening.

  433. Coffeedog14 says:

    Able to pull the cart, but probably not willing.

    I was born without issue. not particularly sickly as a child. had colds and flus and chickenpox, nothing that was a death sentence (though the odds would have been against me, and of course I had all my shots that helps)

    a few years back I broke my collarbone, BAD. the bone nearly pushed out of my skin, and the sharp bit was laying on a nerve. I had surgery, but would’ve healed. Slow, slow, agonizing healing. and I probably wouldn’t be able to lift my arm up all the way.

    Next year, broke the same bone again, an inch away. it was a far better break, and healed naturally without issue.

    So I’m alive, and can even work! but my right arm likely aches like nobodies business during weather changes and the like, and I probably don’t enjoy doing strenuous, arm-angling tasks like pulling a cart.

  434. Kay says:

    I’d be a healthy cart-puller. Nothing worse happened to me than having a nasty flu for a couple of weeks, which I did nothing about because I’m stubborn and macho and dumb, and think the answer to illness is to tough it out and tell myself I’m fine. And the occasional micro-concussion, which may or may not have contributed to the dumb. Both of which seem plenty medieval.

  435. Dayfly says:

    Collapsed lung at birth, not too mention being a preterm birth by 4 weeks.

    And inguinal hernia at 9 months I think. Untreated it is usually fatal.

    Yup, I’d have been a goner before learning to walk.

  436. Austin says:

    Pullin’ the cart! YEAH! Unless you count that time I broke my little toe.

  437. Orickel says:

    My parents and the elder brother had it quite alright and so did I. There were several times in my life when I got food poisoning or got ill, but nothing that required hospitalisation. Though, among the illnesses I weathered, there was chickenpox, and I’m neither a doctor nor a historian to say how severe it would be to have it in medieval times.

    When I was ~8 y.o., I’ve once hit my head very hard and after that I started to quickly get sick whenever riding anything (like a car). Some pills helped me to get rid of this. In medieval, it would be forever unpleasant for me to ride on a horse or a cart (ha!).

    I’ve never broke any limbs, but once got a crack on a bone near my right hand. Without plastering, it could grow together a bit crooked.

    I’m not mentally well, resulting in extreeme aloofness and apathy. Also, I have psoriasis, and though only my skin is affected (it can also cause joint pains), without regular washing I would probably look like a victim of plague.

    So, I wouldn’t pull the cart. I would be a creepy, wacky hermit, changing my dwelling place with every local witchhunt.

  438. Thomas Steven Slater says:

    My diabetes turned up when I was 20, that would definitely have killed me so so very very dead.

  439. Austin says:

    I wouldn’t even have survived birth, I had an undecended testicle, which by itself isn’t a big deal, but I also had extra blood in my head which caused seizures, and if I managed to survive I probably would have been thrown out, I would have died before 1 week

  440. Ieldra says:

    Nice thought experiment. My mother would’ve died in childbirth when I was born, along with my twin sister who actually did die. I would’ve acquired a movement impairment in my right arm (radius fracture) at ten and an amputated toe (infection) at 16. Then I would’ve survived but lost half of my teeth until I was 40, when I would’ve died from a burst appendix. A successful life by the standards of the day – I would’ve made it beyond the average life expectancy. Assuming I could’ve found a line of work where my extreme shortsightedness was not too much of an impairment, which should’ve been possible.

  441. Apple Tree says:

    Would have made it. The only time I spend in a hospital was for something they could not figure out and that went away on its own. I don’t think I have ever even gotten antibiotics.

    But I would probably be blind in one eye. Because while the problem is easy to treat even by medieval standards, they probably would not have known how or even noticed it before it was too late.

  442. NIX says:

    Well, even though I had my apendix out at around… i think I was 12, I had a severe case of the flu at 8, so I don’t think I’d last that long. Plus my dad would have been dead 15+ years from when he blew his face off using gunpowder. So yeah, on the cart.

  443. Jami Francis says:

    Old post, interesting question, worth the time for my own perspective.
    No doubt on the cart.

    craniosynostosis – 2mos – head deformity/brain mashed – if alive, possibly insane or a savant
    testicular cancer – 18 – 1 left but no swimmers – if alive, eunuch
    orbital socket blowout – 39 – alive, but one eyed
    However, if still alive I would have made a bundle in freak shows as a deranged, one-eyed eunuch; I’m one lucky SOB

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.