35. A Gruesome Death
By all accounts, the Black Death was a terrible way to go. Especially so its most common form, the bubonic plague, named after the buboes, or swellings, that marked its victims. Painful swellings, or buboes, first appeared in the groin and armpits, where plague-infested fleas gravitated. The first swellings usually occurred near the site of the initial infection, caused by the flea’s bite, or by the victim’s scratching of the bite site. From there, the buboes to the rest of the body.
Next came a high fever, interspersed by bouts of vomiting blood. Muscle cramps, chills, decomposing skin, and severe seizures, were also among the plague’s symptoms. Burning up with a steadily worsening fever, the victims tossed and turned in the throes of agonized delirium. If the victim lasted for more than a few days, he or she might get to experience the plague’s final ravages: gangrene eating away at the extremities, blackening fingers, toes, lips, and nose tip. Few lasted more than a few days, with some dying within half a day of the first symptoms’ manifestation.