I am getting over my bad spell of health. During ’74 and ’75, quite unwell—but there is no doubt at all that I progress, though very slowly, and with an occasional bad spell. But the bad deathly spells are very rare.
The doctor comes every day; he still thinks I will recover. Cure: great care, good surroundings, time, and hygiene.
I attribute much of my success in weathering this attack to my good stock—to my father, my mother; indeed, not one mother alone—the mothers of five or six generations.
I have had a bad time the last two weeks—head and belly. To be depressed and sick prevents anything being enjoyed. But what’s the use of growling? Everything don’t come my way, but a lot of things do. I have no doubt it will pass over, as it has times before; I feel I shall get as well as usual yet.
Of all the amazing things about the human body, one of the most amazing is, how much it can stand, and still live on. The human frame is full, in every case, of latent power. Though wounded, buffeted, violated, time and again, it seems joyously to respond to the first return of reason and natural habitudes.
Health is the continuous-immutable law of the moral universe, and disease but transient, even if ever so prevalent.
I have had some very bad times, and have some pretty bad ones yet, mostly with my head, and my leg is about as useless as ever. Still I am decidedly no worse, and I think now I am even getting better.
It is slow and with great alternations. But I have the feeling of getting more strength, and easier in the head, more like myself; my flag is no more at half mast; I feel the touch of life again.
I generally keep up very good heart—I shall without doubt soon be nearly as usual, though I think likely a little weaker and clumsier.
See, I am off again, talking about my health—as if there was nothing in the world but my pains and aches to be considered—
I can read, write, work; I can laugh, cry, be myself still, in most ways. I suppose I shouldn’t kick because I can’t climb mountains. Besides, who knows but there may be a sicker man around the corner?
Beautiful here today and I am enjoying the sunshine, sitting here by the window, looking out. We have a canary bird, dog, and parrot—all great friends of mine (and teachers.) The bird is singing, the cars are puffing and rattling, and the children of the neighborhood are all outdoors playing, so I have music enough.
I still consider myself getting along very well—if this only holds out and keeps on favorably, even if ever so moderate and slow.
I seem to have so many of these gleams that delude me into thinking I am on the way to recovery, but soon cloud over again, and let me back as bad as ever. But every time I feel pretty easy, I still keep thinking, now I am certainly going to get much better this time.
I am about the same as of late years, but unable to travel and mainly helpless. Not well enough to go out in the world and go to work, but not sick enough to give up either, or lose my interest in affairs, life, literature, etc. Sensibilities acute as ever, brain normal, I keep up my interest in life, people, progress, and the questions of the day
My left arm never fully recovered from the shock of 1873, though it has always been a useful remnant. My left leg was never itself again—was not restored—never reawakened.
But I must not growl—it might be so much worse; I call myself a half-paralytic these days, and reverently bless the Lord it is no worse.
I am, though crippled as ever, perhaps decidedly better this winter—much better and robuster the last two years, certainly in the way of strength and general vim—almost quarrelsomely well. I feel yet about as cheerful and vimmy as ever, and may live several years yet—indeed probably will—and may write some.
I keep up and dressed, and go out a little nearly every day. I make much of the river here, crossing a great deal on the ferry, full of life and fun to me; get down there by our horse cars, which run along near my door—get infinite kindness, care, and assistance from the employees on these boats and cars.
I am feeling better and sassier this winter so far than for some years, am very comfortable here, find I can be well enough if I take very particular care of myself, how I go, etc.
Can’t go around very lively, but I enjoy what’s going on wherever I go, get my share of fun and healthy hours—dear, soothing, healthy, restoration-hours—after three confining years of paralysis. Dangers retreat when boldly they’re confronted.
I am feeling all right and have had no bad spells. I have some good times here in moderation; have a little jug of good Jamaica rum from which I take a sip now and then. The way I have felt the last two or three days I owe myself a glass now and then—a fellow must once and a while be allowed to step across the line—but not very often. And it is very little I take; everything is shaved down, way down—eating, drinking.
Yesterday I thought I felt as strong and well as ever in my life—in fact real young and jolly. I fill’d my ice-glass with the good wine, and pick’d out two fragrant roses from a big basket near me, and kept cool and jolly and enjoy’d all.
I even already vaguely contemplate plans, (they may never be fulfilled, but yet again they may,) of changes, journey.
Shall I tell you to what I attribute my already much-restored health?
The impalpably soothing and vitalizing influences of abysmic nature—that freeing, dilating, joyous influence, with which uncramp’d nature works on every individual without exception.
The benefit of medicine is very much overrated. Nature’s medicines are simple food, nursing, air, rest, cheerful encouragement, and the like.
I cheerfully accept all the aid my friends find it convenient to proffer. Peter Doyle and Charles Eldridge regularly come in and do whatever I want, and are both very helpful to me—one comes daytime, and one evening. There is something in personal love, caresses, and the magnetic flood of sympathy and friendship, that does more good than all the medicines in the world.
The great thing for one to do when he is used up, is to go out to nature—throw yourself in her arms—submit to her destinies.
I have been almost two years, off and on, without drugs and medicines, and daily in the open air. Commenc’d going for weeks at a time, even for months, down in the country, to a charmingly recluse and rural spot. Every day I went into the country and, naked, bathed in sunshine, lived with the birds and squirrels, and played in the water with the fishes.
It is to my life there that I, perhaps, owe partial recovery (a sort of second wind, or semi-renewal of the lease of life) from the prostration of 1874–’75. I recovered my health from nature. Strange how she carries us through periods of infirmity out into realms of freedom and health.
I had a friend who had a sickly son, who even threatened not to live at all. Then along came a wiser who said, “If that boy is to live, he must be set free, must be sent into the fresh fields.” They bought him a donkey and set the boy free with him—and straightaway the youngster prospered, got strong, robust.
Ten days ago I was tempted by the coming on of lilac time and the almost human tenderness in the atmosphere, to get up and go out. I don’t think I ever enjoyed the faint perfume of spring in the air as I did that March afternoon. But I stayed just a little too long in my unaccustomed wanderings. When I woke up in the morning I knew I had the grip, and I had it bad.
But when I can once get into the open air constantly I shall soon be myself again. If I go down to the creek, and ramble about in the open air by myself, and have a leisurely wash and some exercise, it would do me more good than anything.
I am enamour’d of growing outdoors,
Outdoors is the best antiseptic yet,
God’s elixir of life is wondrously compounded of the primary antiseptics—
Sunlight and pure air and water,
The strong air of prairie and mountain, the dash of the briny sea,
The perfume of flowers, of music,
And the continual change of hours and seasons;
To drink to fulness of the nectar which nature distills is to be intoxicated with health.
The identity between myself subjectively and nature objectively has been strengthening and nourishing my sick body and soul,
My spirit at peace, I smile.
Thanks, invisible physician, for thy silent delicious medicine—
Thy day and night, thy waters and thy airs, the banks, the grass, the trees, and e’en the weeds!
I have absorb’d them, and they begin to make a new man of me.