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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/653

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635
THE REMEDIES OF NATURE.

feel sorely tempted to relieve his distress by invoking the aid of the drug-gods. For believers in the remedial resources of Nature, pleurisy is, indeed, a crucial test of faith, and Dr. Isaac Jennings's observations on his experience during an acute attack of the disease deserve to be framed in every hygienic sanitarium.

"For twelve hours," says he, "breathing was at best laborious and painful, confining me to nearly an erect position in bed; but the distress occasioned by efforts at coughing was indescribable. The confidence of my wife in the 'let-alone' treatment, which had been strengthening for years, and had carried her unflinchingly through a number of serious indispositions, on this occasion faltered; and she begged me to let her send for a physician to bleed me or do something to give at least temporary relief; 'for,' said she, 'you can not live so.' In my own mind there was not the least vestige of misgiving respecting the course pursued.

"In view of the constitutional defect in the pulmonary department of my system, and the nature and severity of the symptoms, it appeared to me very doubtful whether the powers of life would hold out and be able to accomplish what they had undertaken and put me again upon my feet. But I felt perfectly satisfied that whatever could be done to good purpose would be done, by 'due course of law.' My mind, therefore, was perfectly at ease in trusting Nature's work in Nature's hands. There was no danger in the symptoms, let them run as high as they would. They constituted no part of the real difficulty, but grew out of it. The general movement which made them necessary was aiming directly at the removal of that difficulty. Instead, therefore, of being troubled with the idea that I could not live with such symptoms, my conviction was very strong that I could live better with them than without them.

"In the morning, ten or twelve hours from the beginning of the cold chill, there was some mitigation of suffering, which continued till afternoon, when there was a slight exacerbation of symptoms; but the heaviest part of the work was accomplished within the first twenty-four hours. From that time there was a gradual declension of painful symptoms, till the fifth day, when debility and expectoration constituted the bulk of the disease.

"Full bleeding at the commencement of the disease, followed by the other * break-up ' means usually employed in such affections, would have given me immediate relief, and, by continuing to ply active means as the work was urged on (for there would have been no stopping of it, short of stopping the action of the heart), the strongest, most distressing, and critical part of the disease might have been pushed forward to the fifth day; and I might even then possibly have recovered. But, granting that my life would have been spared, I suffered much less on the whole under the 'let alone' treatment than I should have done under a perturbating one, besides having the curative process con-