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Healercraft is one of the traditional crafts on Pern. Major crafthall is located in Fort Hold.

Description

A detailed description of the Craft on the basis of the The Dragonlover's Guide to Pern

The Healercraft is one of the oldest Crafts on Pern. The colonists brought with them many different medical specialists, and medicine was one of the first programs for which they started apprenticing boys and girls. Once the children had the basic training in first aid, those who showed particular aptitude were encouraged to go on to further study.

Children and adults had to learn what plants and which animal bites or scratches were toxic on their new world. The ships brought many medicinal plants from Earth and First Centauri, which the colonists were able to adapt to Pernese soil. All the seasoning herbs and spices from the two worlds grew in the soil or in hydroponics tanks. Native herbs and shrubs underwent thorough tests to determine their uses in healing or cookery. Some discoveries were made by accident, such as that of numbweed.

The Healercraft doesn't have the technology to sustain defective humans. After twenty-five centuries on Pern, the race has been bred clean of most defects. The humans may have mutated somewhat over the years. Pernese humans live long lives and are still active in their eighth decade. Most of their ailments are a result of their environment.

Threadscore is a severe burn. The mycorrhizoid becomes tremendously hot during the fall through atmosphere and, if given the chance, will eat its way right through skin. The edges of a Threadscore are blackened and burned.

One of the most common treatments for Threadscore, like any other burn, is cold water. The wounds are immediately coated with numbweed to deaden the pain, but they are left otherwise uncovered to promote healing.

Most of the medical emergencies among the colonists were broken bones and births. The doctors taught field surgery to their apprentices who showed the most aptitude and had the strongest stomachs. Obstetricians got plenty of practice at their specialty. Pern grew from a population of 6,023 humans to thousands more within a few years. Since man had been living more healthfully, there were no terrible wasting diseases to decimate their numbers. The causes of cancer had been pinpointed and largely wiped out. Other degenerative conditions had been bred out of the race over the centuries. For those who still smoked before the colony embarked, a nonnicotine smoking substitute was distributed to help them break the habit. Tobacco was not considered important enough to grow in the newly tilled fields when foodstuffs were so much more desperately needed.

The main diagnostic center and surgical hospital was in Landing, until, partway through the ninth year of the colony, all the main hospital functions were moved up to Fort Hold. (Benden Hold, too, had hospital facilities when it started out, but those shrank down to a few healers who sent their difficult cases, and their apprentices, back to Fort.) A doctor and at least a couple of nurses were assigned to each of the southern stakeholds, but each of these had other jobs, as well. Anyone who suffered from a condition that his local doctor could not handle was sledded in to Landing. All the training facilities were maintained in the centers.

The Healer Hall is administered by the Masterhealer, at present Master Oldive. Under him are Masters of the different disciplines of healing, whose specialties and ranks can be read by the rank cords on their shoulders. Oldive also oversees stewards who take care of stocking supplies, keeping the Hall clean, and preparing food. Another of his assistants is the Nursing Master, a nurse with teaching skill and administrative ability. There are doctors and nurses and apprentices of diagnostics, pediatrics, geriatrics, obstetrics, urology, pharmacy, dentistry, surgery, and respiratory ailments. Gifted Master-healers become specialists in one of these facets of the craft. Some remain at the Hall to teach; others find posts where such a specialty is needed. Each Weyr has at least one urologist and a surgeon.

Not all trained healers have specialties. Some, especially those who are sent to remote holds, are general practitioners. Because of the difficulty of moving seriously ill patients, a specialist is generally brought in by the Masterhealer of a hold instead of risking losing the patient on the journey. On occasion, a healer may call in a dragon to do an emergency ambulance run if there is sufficient cause. It is a very serious matter to summon a dragon, and no healer will do it lightly twice, since the dragons have duties elsewhere. Most emergencies can be handled on a local level.

A healer will pass news of anything new or unusual back to the Hall through the journeyman harpers who pass through, or by informing the Lord Holder, who will see that word is sent back.

When a medical emergency arises, the Healer Hall studies the problem and publishes or distributes the means for curing or controlling it. In the case of the Great Plague that wiped out half the population of Pern, Masterhealer Capiam, who was a Master diagnostician, was forced to treat the symptoms empirically at first instead of suggesting a cure. Many medical techniques have been lost or have fallen out of favor over the centuries.

Healers learn new techniques by returning to the Healer Hall for refresher courses. As in any Craft, a healer «walks the tables» to advance in grade. One may train all the way up to journeyman rank in one of the other Healer Halls on Pern, such as that in Southern Hold or in South Telgar, but must still return to the main Healer Hall to attain mastery. It is common for apprentices to learn their basic skills in the Hall and be sent out to other Holds as journeymen under masters who are specialists in certain fields. Unlike all other Crafts but the Beastcraft, Healercraft must rely on on-the-job training for its students.

Midwifery is a specialty that many apprentices take up, since the skill is needed in every hold on Pern. Most healers get at least basic instruction in delivering babies.

Nursing is the journeyman stage of a healer's education. Some remain nurses, and some who attain mastery of their Craft go on to become doctors known throughout Pern for their expertise. There is no guarantee of a healer's competency just because he had his training in the Healer Hall of Pern, but the noncompetitive atmosphere means that a candidate stands or falls on his own skills.

The head nurse has responsibility for a stated number of beds or wards in the great Healer Hall complexes. He or she is in charge of journeymen and journeywomen nurses and dressers. There are Master Nurses in the craft, but every healer needs to be exposed to all facets of his occupation to have a thorough grasp of it.

Healers control most chronic ailments with the help of maintenance dosages of cordials and home remedies. A wine cup of distilled hyssop every day keeps off respiratory problems such as croup. Willow tea keeps arthritis under control. A glass of wine is thought to keep the blood thin. Alfalfa tea is good for the stomach and acts as a diuretic. A preparation of yarrow is good against acne. The archives are full of herbal and homeopathic cures that can be made with the plants that grow throughout Pern.

The Pernese do not attach any social stigma to suicide. In the case of a terminally ill patient, the decision whether to employ euthanasia is in the hands of the healer, his Master, and the patient, if he is conscious and in his right mind. A Lord Holder does not get involved when a man makes the decision to take a «mercy draught.» A persons death is considered to be a private matter. If a patient is suffering from a terminal ailment, he or she can choose to die—there is no question of whether or not a man is responsible for his own continued existence. Suicide is expected (though not encouraged) behavior in the Weyrs when a fighter loses his dragon to injuries or illness. When riders die, their dragons suicide by going between.

Anyone who is unhappy is encouraged to seek out someone with whom he can discuss his problems. Healers who help soothe troubled minds follow in the footsteps of the Ancient psychologists and psychiatrists who came to Pern in the colony ships. If a holder disagrees with everybody and everything, he can leave his Hold of birth and start afresh somewhere else. He is not trapped in one place until the end of his life. Even during the Present Pass, there is still a lot of untenanted land and unused space to pioneer.

The bodies of the dead are rarely buried in the ground without some sort of protection from the sky. There is a dislike of leaving the body of a loved one where it might get Threadseared. Instead, the dead are interred in stone cairns or under stone tablets. Cremations are not uncommon, but in poor or woodless holds, cave burials are more accepted. Fisherfolk have elaborate and solemn ceremonies for burial at sea.

Positions and responsibilities

  • Medical —  these professions, used after the landing, were later abolished and merged into the Healercraft.
  • Healer — the general name of specialists.
  • Weyrhealer — these healers working in Weyrs. They can be simple crafters or even dragonriders. Their work is distinguished by the fact that some of them are engaged in treatment not only of people, but also traumas of dragons.

History

First Pass / First Interval

The Healercraft started out as wards for the Fever Year at first, and was called the College and Infirmary. The earliest healers were trained at an infirmary at Landing, in such fields as midwifery, surgery, and first aid.

First Interval / Second Pass

The Healercraft was one of the worst victims of the gradual loss of technology Pern suffered over the years. They would lose the ability to perform most surgeries and to identify and treat illnesses using scientific methods. However, they developed excellent preventative measures, and made excellent use of native plants.

  • Craftsmaster: Corey (Head Medic).

Second Interval / Third Pass

Sixth Pass

Eighth Interval / Ninth Pass

Healers are characterised by the colour green, though they used to use Purple until at least the Eighth Interval. The loss of craft knowledge was visible during the Eighth Interval. Healers had lost the ability to perform blood transfusions, and were limited to repair surgeries. However, AIVAS would later commend the craft for their preventative measures and use of native plants.

The discovery of AIVAS in the Ninth Pass allowed the Healers to revive many lost techniques from the AI's memory banks, including surgical techniques, bacterial identification and the production of antibiotics. Healers often took in depth lessons from AIVAS at scheduled times. These techniques would result in many lives being saved over the years, as cures were rediscovered for many conditions that were historically fatal.

However, the Healercraft would be targeted by the Abominators for their use of AIVAS-inspired technology. Turning a turnover celebration, several attacks were made against Healer Halls, including destruction of supplies and propaganda.


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