Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/98

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
88
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the patients were dying of starvation—in fact, the treatment I had been pursuing. Aided by this book, I had the pleasure of making a convert of my senior.

The next three years are barren of incident. I served in the Channel Islands the greater part of the time with a battery about one hundred strong, and quite isolated. After this I returned to India, and was put in medical charge of the Artillery Division at Mooltan. It was in this station that I studied the heat fever, in which I was led to adopt a modification of treatment, which included, I may add, an avoidance of alcohol. I early made observation of another troublesome and prevalent Indian ailment—diarrhœa. Patients admitted to hospital with diarrhœa very rapidly recovered by dietetic means alone, and without drugs. The climate of the Punjab is dry, very different from that of Bengal, where, we know, diarrhœa does not always tend to cure itself. In truth, the diarrhœa was curative, proceeding from some improper ingesta, very frequently a symptom of alcoholic poisoning. On coming to hospital, milk and arrowroot were given as diet, and, with rest and quiet, in a day or two the man was well. Similarly among the children diarrhœa, which was in any case rare, proceeded from something unwholesome they had eaten, or from fever. That arising from the former cause cured itself, and fevers in the hospital, cooled artificially, quiet, and darkened, seldom lasted over the second day. So that a child brought to hospital almost insensible with vomiting and diarrhœa would be quite lively next day, and without any special treatment other than cold applications. Thus, in addition to delirium tremens, which was very rare, two other important Indian diseases, diarrhœa and heat fever, were treated by sanitary measures, any drugs employed being mere adjuncts, and alcohol would only have marred the cure.

There were many cases of acute chest disease in the cold weather. On admission to hospital, they had plainly one thing in common with those suffering from alcohol: they were exhausted from sheer want of food. It was the first and main point of my treatment that this should be met by prompt feeding, most generally by repeated cupfuls of arrowroot and milk. I gave niter or other neutral alkaline salt, and morphine for hacking cough. The tongue began to clean at once and the temperature to fall, and the haggard and worn patient got refreshing sleep and began to convalesce. In fact, the cases ran parallel with the former ailments I have mentioned, and I soon ceased to employ with them any form of alcohol. They usually passed through a crisis, sometimes extremely severe. The temperature became subnormal—at least, as evidenced by the thermometer; the face shrunken, with feeble pulse. My practice was, at first, to give