EPILEPSY, HYSTERIA, AND NEURASTHENIA

THEIR CAUSES, SYMPTOMS, & TREATMENT

WEBMASTER'S NOTE: This work is presented for historical interest and subject background only. Many of the conclusions, attitudes, and treatments discussed here are those of an "expert" of another era, many of which have been overturned by science or are not acceptable in today's world.
[pg 71]

CHAPTER XV

GENERAL HYGIENE

"Better to hunt in fields for health unbought,

Than fee the doctor for a nauseous draught."

—Dryden.

If men but realized what complicated machines they were, they would use themselves better. In the body are 240 bones and hundreds of muscles. The heart, no bigger than the clenched fist, beats 100,000 times a day; the aerating surface of the lungs is equal in area to the floors of a six-roomed house, and by means of its minute blood-vessels which would stretch across the Atlantic, 500 gallons of blood are brought into contact with over 3,000 gallons of air every day.

Seven million sweat-glands, 30 miles long, get rid of a pint of liquid and an ounce of solid waste each day while it takes a tube 30 feet long, with millions of glands, to deal with a sip of milk.

Man's finest steam engine turns one-eighth of the energy supplied into work; nature's engine, muscle, turns one-third into work. The body contains 9 gallons of water, enough carbon to make 9,000 lead pencils, phosphorus for 8,000 boxes of matches, iron for 5 tacks, and salt enough to fill half a dozen salt-cellars.

Over 40 food-ferments have been found in the liver; there are 5,000,000 red and 30,000 white blood corpuscles in a space as big as a pin's head, each one of which travels a mile a day and lives but a fortnight, [pg 72] millions of new ones being built up in the bone-marrow every second; a flash of light lasting only one eight-millionth of a second, will stimulate the eye, which can discriminate half a million tints. The ear can distinguish 11,000 tones, and is so sensitive that we hear waves of air less than one sixty-thousandth of an inch long; a mass of almost liquid jelly—for 81 per cent of the brain is water, and Aristotle thought it was a wet sponge to cool the hot heart—sends out impulses ordering our every thought and act, and stores up memory, we know not how or where.

There are 10,000,000,000 of cells in the brain cortex alone, and 560,000 fibres pass from the brain down the spinal cord.

A clear, watery cell, no larger than the dot on an "i" encloses factors causing genius or stupidity, honesty or roguery, pride or humility, patience or impulsiveness, coldness or ardour, tallness or shortness, form of head or hands, colour of eyes and hair, male or female sex, and the thousand details that make a man.

Yet man uses this marvellous mechanism but carelessly, and the widespread poverty, the worry and discord in the lives of the happiest, our ignorance, the evil habits we contract, and the vice, miseries, diseases and labours to which most expectant mothers are too often exposed, explain why one baby in every eight never walks; why but four of them live to manhood; why less than 40 years is now man's average span; and why this brief space is filled with suffering and misery, from which many escape by self-destruction.

Sound children do not come from unclean air, surroundings, habits, pursuits, passions and parents. Children conceived in unsuitable surroundings by unsuitable parents, die; must die; [pg 73] ought to die. They are not built for the stern battle of life.


"Where the sun does not enter, the doctor does!"

—Italian proverb.

Plenty of fresh, clean air is essential to health.

In all rooms a block of wood nine inches high should be inserted beneath the whole length of the bottom sash of the window. This leaves a space between the top and bottom sashes through which fresh air passes freely, without draught, both night and day, for it should never be closed. A handy man will fit a simple device to prevent the windows being forced at night, but better let in a burglar than keep out air.

If it be cold or draughty in the bedroom, hang a sheet a foot from the window, put more blankets or an overcoat on the bed, or put layers of brown paper above the sheets, but never close the window.

You can take too much of many good things, but never too much pure air.

Cleanliness. Keep the body clean by taking at least one hot bath per week; per day if possible. Much filth is excreted by your sweat-pores; why let it cake on skin and underlinen, and silently silt up your thirty miles of skin canals, thus overworking the other excretory organs, and gradually poisoning yourself?

Neuropaths always suffer from sluggish circulation of the extremities, and to improve this, hot and cold baths, spinal douches and massage are excellent. A hot bath (98-110 F.) ensures a thorough cleansing, but it brings the blood to the surface, where its heat is quickly lost, enervating one, and causing a bout of shivering which increases the production of heat by [pg 74] stimulating the heat-regulating centre in the brain. Baths above 110 F. induce faintness. To prevent shivering, take a cold douche after the hot bath, and have a brisk rub down with a coarse towel, when a delightful, warm glow will result. Do not freeze yourself, or the reaction will not occur; what is wanted is a short, sharp shock, which sends the blood racing from the skin, to which it returns in tingling pulsations, which brace up the whole system. The douche is over in a few seconds, and may be enjoyed the year round, commencing in late Spring.

The cold bath must not be made a fetish. If the glow is not felt, give it up, and bathe in tepid (85-92 F.) or warm (93-98 F.) water. When started in the vigour of youth, the cold bath may often be continued through life, but it is unwise to commence in middle life. Parents should never force their children to take cold baths, to "harden them".

Other Hygienic Points. Tobacco is undesirable for neuropaths, save in moderation.

Clothes should be light, loose, and warm. Epileptics should wear low, stiff collars, half a size too large, with clip ties. Such a combination does not form a tight band round the neck, and can quickly be removed if necessary. Wear thick, woollen socks, and square-toed, low-heeled, double-soled boots. Hats should be large, light, and of soft material. Woollen underwear is best. Change as often as possible, and aim at health, not appearance.

Let all rooms be well lighted, well ventilated, moderately heated, and sparsely furnished with necessities. Shun draperies, have no window boxes, cut climbing plants ruthlessly away from the windows, and never obstruct chimneys.

Buy Muller's "My SystemMy System by Muller", which gives a course of physical exercises without apparatus, which only take fifteen minutes a day. The patient must conscientiously [pg 75] perform the exercises each morning, not for a week, nor for a month, but for an indefinite period, or throughout life.

Finally, remember that so few die a natural death from senile decay because so few live a natural life.

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Chapter 15 - General Hygiene
Stress Book
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