Well, that was manageable!
Scarlet fever sounds like a big freaking deal, especially when you've read a lot of books set in the 19th century, but it really wasn't. We treated the itching with Benadryl (orally) and Calamine lotion (externally), the fever with Tylenol and Motrin, and the infection with antibiotics. Two days later, and she's fine. We didn't even have to take all her toys out back and burn them.
Tylenol. The best you could do for your sick kid was to liquor (or coke!) 'em up and hope for the best. There was no FDA to make sure that whatever snake oil you were giving your kids was even safe. But I can easily imagine that trying something would've been preferable to doing nothing.
Parents then didn't love their children any less than we love our kids now. They weren't less attached to them. The only insulation they may have had against the heartbreak that would come from losing a child was that it was such a common experience back then. Walk through any old cemetery and you'll see dozens and dozens of tiny headstones with a single date on them, or with a horribly short span between two dates.
And here we are, a century later, and parents can and do elect to refuse vaccinations that our great-grandparents couldn't have imagined, and would have given anything to have for their kids. We've never seen an iron lung, and if we see a kid with leg braces or in a wheelchair, it's unusual. Few people walk around with scarred skin or rotten teeth. And while children still die young, it's a rare and unexpected tragedy. I've heard so many people say, "Parents shouldn't outlive their kids," when someone dies young, but the truth is that up until quite recently in human history, it was actually more common for parents to lose a kid or two (or several) than not.
Geez, for a post that started off with "everything's fine!" this has gotten awfully maudlin. But this is what I'm thinking about today. I'm thinking about how lucky we are that we can run out to the store and grab a bottle of Tylenol or an antibiotic for a couple bucks. I'm thinking about how sad it is that not everyone in our modern world enjoys the same access to medicine that we do. And I'm wondering what kinds of advancements the next 100 years will bring. That will really be something...