I've always felt that one of the scariest phrases in the English language is, "it seemed like a good idea at the time."

When you’re trying to fight illness without the benefit of a lot of resources behind you, the best weapon in your arsenal is usually education. This is unfortunate, because many people don’t particularly like to learn and relatively few people really know how to teach.

The scariest thing about illness is, perhaps, that it spreads.

Because I write this weekly column, I'm constantly looking for situations in which modern medical science can teach us something about how history worked and, as a result, the way that things might work in a medieval fantasy setting. Living as I do in one of North America's biggest and most cosmopolitan cities, I don't have much exposure to many of the major medical problems of the medieval era, but fortunately, the world of medical literature is a lot broader than my personal experience.

Despite centuries of scientific and medical advancement, we're still not entirely sure how important it is to wash your hands.


In King Lear, Shakespeare famously wrote that "man's life is cheap as beast's." This phrase has since become among of the most well-known proverbs in modern English, but in my experience most physicians will disagree with it.