While writing an article on my 2nd great grandfather, Aaron Edward Spence, for the family newsletter, I noticed something I didn’t pay much attention to before.

While looking at his death certificate to determine the cause of death, it say ‘dropsy’. I dismissed this before mostly due to amateur research and not being able to understand the chicken scratch written on the death certificate. Well, tonight I decided to do a google search for what I believed to be the word the doctor was trying to say.

I get a correction from Google saying “do you mean dropsy”. Thinking..’uh..yeah’. The first link that pops up is a medical link for Dropsy.

Dropsy: An old term for the swelling of soft tissues due to the accumulation of excess water.

In years gone by, a person might have been said to have dropsy. Today one would be more descriptive and specify the cause. Thus, the person might have edema due to congestive heart failure.

Edema is often more prominent in the lower legs and feet toward the end of the day as a result of pooling of fluid from the upright position usually maintained during the day. Upon awakening from sleeping, people can have swelling around the eyes referred to as periorbital edema.

What I thought was amazing is, I see this same medical condition in many of my family living today. Many of them suffer from the same swelling in their lower legs and feet that my 2nd great grandfather suffered from. Although I know genealogy can unlock doors about yourself, it’s always amazing when you see the door open.

It makes me wonder what other medical conditions runs in the family….