Death of the White Plague

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Yet again, these aren’t exactly new photos. This was my first explore of the summer, a few months back on my second visit to this incredible place.

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This is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. There isn’t much ground to cover. But I could still spend days walking the halls here.

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These old hospital pavilions have sat vacant for decades, abandoned after the cure was discovered for the disease they treated — tuberculosis. It was here, actually, where the first clinical trials for curative drugs were successful. That’s a pretty incredible piece of history to experience in person. Many of the old places I shoot didn’t have a happy ending. But the last wave of patients to pass through these halls got to go home: Cured.

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I’m wondering if anyone can tell me what this thing is/was. The two giant glass cylinders were connected to a network of pipes and nozzles, and were filled at some point with something that crystallized into a consistency like sand. Whatever was in the left tube was darker than the stuff in the right. You can sort of see the color discrepancy in what’s spilled all over the floor.

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This one I figured out on my own. I believe that’s an old diathermy machine, which physical therapists still use today.

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I think this was some kind of thermoregulation….bed? I’d guess the hose sticking out of the bottom vented the chamber with temperature-controlled air. I don’t really know what the thing on top of it is, I found that on the floor in the corner of the room. It looked sort of like a restraint vest, but there’s no reason there’d be restraints here. My only other guess, based on the boning down the back, is it helped keep patients upright.

Again, anyone smarter than me, please feel free to chime in.

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It was really hot that day. So unbearably hot, my rubber 3M mask felt like it was suffocating me.  I always wear a respirator. I have to. But I couldn’t breathe, so eventually, I took it off. Of course, the next day the cough started. I was unbelievably sick and hacking my lungs out for over a month. My mother asked me why I was coughing so much. “Tuberculosis,” I said.

She doesn’t think I’m funny.

4 comments

  1. Sue

    What a fantastic explore, Amanda! Great photographs. I’m envious! But I no longer have the health to do anything like this, so it’s great to have a virtual walkthrough….

    • Amanda

      Thank you, Sue. It’s a special place to be sure. I’m sorry to hear about your health… I hope it’s nothing too serious. But glad you are playing it safe and not putting yourself in harm’s way!

  2. Great tour…perhaps the reason TB hospitals are so great is that the setting (and loads of sun) were thought to be an effective part of the treatment/cure….BTW you are funny…sorry Mom

    • Amanda

      Great point. Plenty of windows vs the dungeon-like settings of some asylums. And thank you — I think I’m good for an occasional laugh. 😀

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