The Croaking of Beethoven!

By Stephen Jenny

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A short Bio:

Ludwig Van Beethoven is known as the greatest Romantic Composer in history.

Born December 17, 1770


Died March 26, 1827

Vienna, Austria

56 years old when he kicked the bucket.

A Brief Bio:

Born December, 1770, Ludwig Van Beethoven was born in a good era, for music that is. Beethoven's father was a musician who forced him to practice the piano day and night. He was molded into a musical prodigy, playing for a public audience at the age of 8, becoming very popular. He even met another famous composer named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was at the time, teaching kids of nobility to play. Beethoven played for large audiences, and even royalty.

By the age of 27 though, after so many loud concerts, was beginning to lose his hearing. But he still went on, conducting and composing with diminishing auditory perception, until the age of 45, and became stone deaf. But, Beethoven still went on! He wrote and even conducted, his greatest masterpieces by imagining what it would sound like. Talk about dedication. But it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows for this celebrity.

For his last thirty years, Beethoven had terrible stomach issues like diarrhea and vomiting, making him very grumpy and accident prone. Women weren't too fond of Beethoven because of this, and he never had any children. In 1827, Beethoven was struck with a heavy case of pneumonia and went to the hospital for help, Unfortunately, it did the exact opposite.

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Time line:


The first hospital trip

Beethoven checks into the hospital looking a mess. His skin is yellow, blood dripped from his mouth, and because he could not use the restroom, he got dropsy, in which all the excess fluids in his body could not leave, making his stomach swell like a balloon.

The doctors back then had as much knowledge as those from the middle ages. In other words, most people half the people who entered the hospital, didn't come out alive. So, just like in the middle ages, doctors decided to drain the fluid out of his stomach.

Doctors drill a hole into his stomach and put a hose in it, all while awake, with no pain medicine. 2 and a half grayish brown pus like gunk flows from his belly. Even worse, stitches were not invented, so the filled the hole with rags! Beethoven is then sent home.

The second trip

Beethoven had returned, this time though, his belly got even larger, and gunk was still leaking from his stomach.

The next few weeks

Over the next few weeks, Beethoven came back to have is stomach drained 3 times. Each time, the hose was reinserted into the hole, and surprisingly, it got infected.

Doctors came up with another brilliant idea. They had him sit propped up in a tub filled with steaming hot water, put a sheet around his body, but not his head, and left him there for a few hours. When they returned, Beethoven had turned into a blimp. His body had absorbed all the steam like a sponge.

In his final days

Photographs were not invented yet either, so one of Beethoven's friends had sent for an artist to draw him shortly before he slipped into unconsciousness.

R.I.P. or not

Beethoven Died on March 26, 1827. He was 56 years old. Before and mostly after his death, people look snips of his hair as mementos to remember him by, leaving him bald by the end of the day. Autopsy found that his organs were all the opposite of what they where suppose to be like. They also looked at his temporal bones from his skull to study them, which disappeared, along with the report. A grave mask, made of plaster, was molded to his face and a ring of flowers on his head, to cover up the saw marks.

In 1863, Beethoven was dug up to be put in a better coffin, but his skull was studied again. An old friend of Beethoven took it home with him and slept with it next to his bed so it wasn't stolen. Photo graphs were taken of it, but they disappeared.

In 1888, he was dug up yet again and examined. They found out that Beethoven's "old friend" had taken more pieces of his skull.

A skull collector had passed the skull fragments down from generation to generation, until they were found in 1990, when someone wanted to finally get rid of them

In 1994, a lock of Beethoven's hair was sold for $7,300 and then analyzed by scientists. Then at last, they found out how Beethoven died: massive lead poisoning 100 times the normal level. But, in 2010, strangely, only 1 out of 1 of his skull fragments had lead. Scientist do not know how much lead could have possibly enter his body, but they did conclude that this did have an effect on all his stomach problems, not his deafness through.

Disease: How Beethoven croaked:


Lead poisoning- Lead is a toxic metal that build up in your body through the inhaling or consuming of lead dust. Over along period of time, it builds up in the body, causing the blockage and poisoning of organs and tissues. Symptoms include: loss of hearing, constipation, vomiting, abdominal pain, sluggishness/ fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, seizures, comas, anemia (dropsy), and irritability. Sound familiar?

Infection- It spread quickly from the hole in his stomach because they only plugged it with rags, and inserted a hose into it each time.

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Modern Treatment:


Chelation therapy- Medicine is given that binds the lead together, and is then disposed of by the body.

If the levels of lead are over 45 mgc/cL in the blood, doctors give one or more different types of drugs containing the chemical call ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid,or EDTA. More than one treatment may be required, however,it can not reverse the damage done to the body.

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Dropsy- An old fashioned term for edma, which is the buildup of excess watery fluid in the body. Edma causes the swelling of organs, skin, and other parts of the body.

Symphony- an elaborate musical composition for full orchestra, typically in four movements, at least one of which is traditionally in sonata form.

Romanticism- a movement in the arts and literature that originated in the late 18th century, emphasizing inspiration, subjectivity, and the primacy of the individual.

Chamber pot- a bowl kept in a bedroom and used as a toilet, especially at night.

Lock- A sample of someones hair.

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