History geek that I am, I've been known to daydream that the TARDIS shows up in my back yard, and the Doctor (preferably Nine, yum!) invites me to go on a little research trip to the past. I'd love to visit 1812 (or 1787, or 480 BCE, or any number of other years). But I've never wanted to live there. I'm too fond of voting and owning property, for starters. I also like electricity and all the wonderful things it makes possible, like air conditioning and the internet.
You know what else I like? Antibiotics. A few years ago I came down with a vicious strep infection. It started with a few days of sore throat and low-grade fever that didn't much worry me, but then one morning I woke up with a fever of 102. I somehow staggered in to see my doctor, who did a rapid strep test and gave me a prescription for powerful antibiotics. My fever broke within 24 hours, and I felt healthy and energetic again within 48.
It got me to wondering how long I would've lived, had I been born 200 years earlier but otherwise had a broadly similar medical history. I'm almost certain I wouldn't have made it to my current age. I was a very healthy child--some of which, no doubt, was thanks to immunization and the public health efforts that eradicated smallpox, but we'll assume for the moment that Past!Susanna also survived her childhood unscathed. (There's a chance she would've been inoculated for smallpox, come to think of it, though it wasn't universally done.)
My 20's were healthy, too. But when I was 7 months pregnant (and just turned 33), I was diagnosed with gestational hypertension and put on medication and bedrest for the remainder of the pregnancy. I managed to make it to full-term, only to have a forceps delivery after Miss Fraser got stuck. Everything ended well, but 200 years earlier? Probably NSM. The blood pressure issue might've been survivable if I'd had a doctor who bled me--since hypertension is just about the only condition bleeding actually helped. As for the rest, well, forceps were around, but rarely used, and there's a good chance nothing of the sort would've been tried until it was too late for Miss Fraser, if not for me.
And if by some odd chance I'd survived childbirth? Well, then the strep infection probably would've gotten me. All things considered, I'll take 2012.
What about you? If you'd been born 200 years earlier, would you have reached your current age?
Susanna Fraser enjoys 21st century comforts in the Pacific Northwest. She has two historical romances out with Carina, The Sergeant's Lady and A Marriage of Inconvenience. Her next book, An Infamous Marriage, releases November 5.