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lignant stage, it would appear, had seized me without my being aware of it; and zymosis I had evidently been suffering with from boyhood. There were no more diseases after zymosis, so I concluded there was nothing else the matter with me.
I sat and pondered. I thought what an interesting case I must be from a medical point of view, what an acquisition I should be to a class ! Students would have no need to “ walk the hospitals” if they had me. I was an hospital in myself. All they need do would be to walk round me, and, after that, take their diploma.
Then I wondered how long I had to live. I tried to examine myself. I felt my pulse. I could not at first feel any pulse at all. Then, all of a sudden, it seemed to start off. I pulled out my watch and timed it. I made it a hundred and forty-seven to the minute. I tried to feel my heart. I could not feel my heart. It had stopped beating. I have since been induced to come to the opinion that it must have been there all the time, and must have been beating, but I cannot account for it. I patted myself all over my front, from what I call my waist up to my head, and I went a bit round each side and a little way up the back. But I could not feel or hear anything. I tried to look at my tongue. I stuck it out as far as ever it would go, and I shut one eye and tried to examine it with the other. I could only see the tip, and the only thing that I could gain from that was to feel more certain than before that I had scarletfever.
I had walked into that reading-room a happy, healthy man. I crawled out a decrepit wreck.
I went to my medical man. He is an old chum of mine, and feels my pulse, and looks at my tongue, and talks about the weather, all for nothing, when I fancy I'm ill; so I thought I would do him a good turn by going to him now.
What a doctor wants,” I said, “is practice. He shall have me. He will get more practice out of me than out of seventeen hundred of your ordinary, commonplace patients with only one or two diseases each.” So I went straight up and saw him, and he said:
“Well, what's the matter with you I said:
“I will not take up your time, dear boy, with telling you what is the matter with me. Life is brief, and you might pass away before I had finished But I will tell you what is not the
matter with me. I have not got housemaid's knee. Why I have not got housemaid's knee I cannot tell you ; but the fact remains that I have not got it. Everything else, however, I have got."
And I told him how I came to discover it all.
Then he opened me and looked down me, and clutched hold of my wrist, and then he hit me over the chest when I wasn't expecting it - a cowardly thing to do, I call it - and immediately afterward butted me with the side of his head. After that, he sat down and wrote out a prescription and folded it up and gave it me, and I put it in my pocket and went out.
I did not open it. I took it to the nearest chemist's, and handed it in. The man read it, and then handed it back.
He said he didn't keep it.
“I am a chemist. If I was a coöperative store and family hotel combined I might be able to oblige you. Being only a chemist hampers me. I read the prescription. It ran :
“1 lb. beefsteak, with
every 6 hours.
1 bed at 11 sharp every night. And don't stuff up your head with things you don't understand.”
I followed the directions, with the happy result — speaking for myself — that my life was preserved, and is still going on.
In the present instance, going back to the liver-pill circular, I had the symptoms, beyond all mistake, the chief among them being “a general disinclination to work of any kind.”
What I suffer in that way no tongue can tell. From my earliest infancy I have been a martyr to it. As a boy, the disease hardly ever left me for a day. They did not know, then, that it was my liver. Medical science was in a far less advanced state than now, and they used to put it down to laziness.
“Why, you skulking little devil, you !” they would say, “get up and do something for your living, can't you ?” — not knowing, of course, that I was ill.
And they didn't give me pills; they gave me clumps on the side of the head. And, strange as it may appear, those clumps on the head often cured me — for the time being. I have known one clump on the head have more effect upon my liver, and make me feel more anxious to go straight away then and there, and do what was wanted to be done without further loss of time, than a whole box of pills does now.
You know, it often is so — those simple, old-fashioned remedies are sometimes more efficacious than all the dispensary stuff.
We sat there for half an hour describing to one another our maladies. I explained to George and William Harris how I felt when I got up in the morning, and William Harris told us how he felt when he went to bed; and George stood on the hearth-rug and gave us a clever and powerful piece of acting illustrative of how he felt in the night.
George fancies he is ill; but there's never anything really the matter with him, you know.
At this point Mrs. Poppets knocked at the door to know if we were ready for supper. We smiled sadly at one another, and said we supposed we had better try to swallow a bit. Harris said a little something in one's stomach often kept the disease in check; and Mrs. Poppets brought the tray in, and we drew up to the table and toyed with a little steak and onions and some rhubarb tart.
I must have been very weak at the time, because I know, after the first half hour or so, I seemed to take no interest whatever in my food – an unusual thing for me - and I didn't want
This duty done, we refilled our glasses, lighted our pipes, and resumed the discussion upon our state of health. What it was that was actually the matter with us, we none of us could be sure of; but the unanimous opinion was that it whatever it was — had been brought on by overwork.
“What we want is rest,” said Harris.
" The overstrain upon our brains has produced a general depression throughout the system. Change of scene and absence of the necessity for thought will restore the mental equilibrium.”
George has a cousin, who is usually described in the chargesheet as a medical student, so that he naturally has a somewhat family-physicianary way of putting things.
I agreed with George, and suggested that we should seek out some retired and old-world spot, far from the madding crowd, and dream away a sunny week among its drowsy lanes - some half-forgotten nook, hidden away by the fairies, out of reach of the noisy world — some quaint-perched eyrie on the cliffs of Time, from whence the surging waves of the nineteenth century would sound far off and faint.
Harris said he thought it would be humpy. He said he knew the sort of place I meant; where everybody went to bed at eight o'clock, and you couldn't get a "Referee" for love or money, and have to walk ten miles to get your baccy.
“No,” said Harris, " if you want rest and change, you can't beat a sea trip."
i objected to the sea trip strongly. A sea trip does you good when you are going to have a couple of months of it, but for a week, it is wicked.
You start on Monday with the idea implanted in your bosom that you are going to enjoy yourself. You wave an airy adieu to the boys on shore, light your biggest pipe, and swagger about the deck as if you were Captain Cook, Sir Francis Drake, and Christopher Columbus all rolled into one. On Tuesday, you wish you hadn't come. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, you wish you were dead. On Saturday, you are able to swallow a little beef-tea, and to sit up on deck and answer with a wan, sweet smile when kind-hearted people ask you how you feel now. On Sunday, you begin to walk about again, and take solid food. And on Monday morning, as, with your bag and umbrella in your hand, you stand by the gunwale, waiting to step ashore, you begin to thoroughly like it.
I remember my brother-in-law going for a short sea trip once, for the benefit of his health. He took a return berth from London to Liverpool ; and when he got to Liverpool the only thing he was anxious about was to sell that return ticket.
It was offered round the town at a tremendous reduction, so I am told; and was eventually sold for eighteen pence to a bilious-looking youth who had just been advised by his medical men to go to the seaside and take exercise.
“Seaside !” said my brother-in-law, pressing the ticket affectionately into his hand; " why, you'll have enough to last you a life-time; and as for exercise! why, you'll get more exercise sitting down on that ship than you would turning somersaults on dry land."
VOL. XII. - 28
He himself — my brother-in-law - came back by train. He said the Northwestern Railway was healthy enough for him.
Another fellow I knew went for a week's voyage round the coast, and before they started the steward came to him to ask whether he would pay for each meal as he had it or arrange beforehand for the whole series.
The steward recommended the latter course, as it would come so much cheaper. He said they would do him for the whole week at two pounds five. He said for breakfast there would be fish, followed by a grill. Lunch was at one, and consisted of four courses. Dinner at six - soup, fish, entrée, joint, poultry, salad, sweets, cheese, and dessert. And a light meat supper at ten.
My friend thought he would close on the two-pound-five job (he is a hearty eater), and did so.
Lunch came just as they were off Sheerness. He didn't feel so hungry as he thought he should, and so contented himself with a bit of boiled beef and some strawberries and cream. He pondered a good deal during the afternoon, and at one time it seemed to him that he had been eating nothing but boiled beef for weeks, and at other times it seemed that he must have been living on strawberries and cream for years.
Neither the beef nor the strawberries and cream seemed happy, either — seemed discontented like.
At six, they came and told him dinner was ready. The announcement aroused no enthusiasm within him, but he felt that there was some of that two-pound-five to be worked off, and he held on to ropes and things and went down. A pleasant odor of onions and hot ham, mingled with fried fish and greens, greeted him at the bottom of the ladder; and then the steward came up with an oily smile, and said:
“What can I get you, sir?”
And they ran him up quick, and propped him over to leeward, and left him.
For the next four days he lived a simple and blameless life on thin captain's biscuits (I mean that the biscuits were thin, not the captain) and soda-water ; but, toward Saturday, he got uppish, and went in for weak tea and dry toast, and on Monday he was gorging himself on chicken-broth. He left the ship on Tuesday, and as it steamed away from the landing-stage he gazed after it regretfully.