Once the Seizures Have Started…
What is toxemia or eclampsia? Could what happened in Downton Abbey be realistic? What about today? Tara Austen Weaver has researched and reports.
Lady Sybil Patricia Branson (née Crawley): 1896-1920
With the loss of Lady Sybil, a pall has fallen over Downton. I don’t know about you, but for a moment I considered going into mourning myself. Not Sybil—noooooo! She’s the only truly good one of them. As Mrs. Hughes rightly says, “The sweetest spirit under this roof is gone.”
And what of this eclampsia? What? How? Why?
Unfortunately, it’s hard to blame. Characterized by high blood pressure, additional protein in the urine, and seizures, eclampsia does not have clear causes. These days most women are screened for symptoms (preeclampsia), which occur in only 5-7% of pregnancies; only 1% of these go on to develop the full potentially fatal condition. Still, even now, answers are rare.
To quote a current medical website:
There is nothing that any woman can do to prevent preeclampsia or eclampsia from occurring. Therefore, it is both unhealthy and not helpful to assign blame and to review and rehash events that occurred either just prior to pregnancy or during early pregnancy that may have contributed to the development of preeclampsia.
As Sir Phillip says, “The human life is unpredictable.”
Damn you, Sir Phillip. Damn you and your snooty ways. We want Sybil back!
PBS has provided the following contact information for those seeking more information about eclampsia, pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome, which are truly life-threatening conditions that are still major threats to maternal and infant health today:
Toll Free: 800-665-9341