Over the next few days our diarist is bored, and chilly.   The old rental house is so dang cold that houseplants froze up and died.  She and Mama are thrilled when Ruth, who I think is the diarist’s sister, comes to Missoula for a visit.

The women take lots of walks thru downtown Missoula, and take in silent flicks like a western called ‘Bar Nothin’  (nothin’ available about that movie on-line, sadly).

Then Ruth gets a nasty stomach-ache…

“Mon. Feb. 6.                                                                         1922

Mama & Ruth sent down to the Dr. to see about Ruths side & Mama came back pretty blue.  Dr. Thornton thot she had cronic appendicitis.

Ruth & I went down town in P.m. as Ruth had to go to the Dr. again & be exam. By the other Thornton. ”

But Ruth continues to putter around the house, go for walks with her sister, and eat dinner at friends’ houses.  Her doctors do not recommend surgery at all; but today, it would be required — for acute appendicitis, anyway.

Here’s why folks avoided surgery in the 1920s: Your chances of dying during or after an operation were high, up to 50%!  If the anaesthesia (chloroform, ether, and nitrous oxide) didn’t get you, the surgery itself or nasty post-operative infections would. After all, this was only a couple generations after field surgeries of the Civil War (chloroform if you were lucky, something to bite on if you weren’t, you got tied down with leather straps and then they dug out the bullets or sawed off your limbs).

Can you blame Ruth for avoiding the hospital?

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