Mr. John S. was fifty-nine years old. He had been sick for a long time, but the family decided to resort to the hygienic treatments only when the doctors who attended his case held out no hope for his recovery and said that death was merely a matter of days away.
As soon as we stepped into the sick room, we realised that we were dealing with a very sick man. Mr. S. was all propped up with pillows, gasping for breath, his face flushed to a deep bluish hue. An examination revealed an extremely enlarged and damaged heart and extensive circulatory damage. His legs were badly swollen and his abdomen and part of his chest were filled with fluid. He had great difficulty in passing his urine, voiding only small quantities at a time.
A physician who was connected with one of New Yorks large hospitals, an excellent heart man, performed the examination.
What do you think of his chances for recovery? we asked the physician after he had completed his examination and we had stepped into another room. This man may die within the next 24 hours, but whether he dies tonight or tomorrow, there isnt much that can be done for nim, he replied.
Because of this seemingly hopeless situation, and because all that could possibly have been done by medicine had been tried, this physician was willing to try the rational approach.
We started by eliminating all food and by discontinuing all medication. All that we permitted for the first three days was about two ounces of freshly squeezed orange or grapefruit juice every two or three hours. Warm cleansing enemas and hot mustard foot baths were used twice daily.
To keep a check on how his kidneys were functioning, we left instructions that the family collect his urine and keep a record of his daily output.
We need not mention that the first few days were most trying. The first hopeful sign came when the patient began to pass large quantities of urine, many times the amount of liquid he was taking in.
Before long, several significant changes became noticeable. His breathing became easier, deeper, and more regular. His face and skin began to lose its bluish hue, changing to a paler, healthier color. He was able to rest more comfortably and sleep much better.
As these improvements continued, our patient began to clamor for food. We began with small servings of grapefruit and oranges, but later added other fruits in small quantities.
A few days later we started with small meals, served at regular intervals: grapefruit and raw grated apple or stewed prunes for breakfast, lettuce and tomato salad with a small portion of a plain steamed vegetable for lunch, and a similar meal for dinner.
A few days later, we added other raw vegetables to his salad and also increased his meals by adding small portions of cottage or pot cheese for lunch and a baked potato for dinner.
An orange or sections of grapefruit were permitted between meals when he was hungry.
Later, some rye krisp or shredded wheat was added to his breakfast, and small servings of chicken, lamb chop, or fish twice or three times a week were permitted in place of the cheese.
It took about four weeks before Mr. S, was able to get out of bed. We first sat him up in bed for short periods of time with his feet dangling down. A few days later he was able to get into a chair. He sat up a half hour at first, and gradually increased the time each day. Later we encouraged him to take a few steps, and increased the distance each day. Finally, he was strong enough to move about from one room into the other.
His treatments had commenced about the middle of March. He lived on a top floor, and by the time warm weather set in he was able to walk up to the roof for fresh air and sunshine, where he remained, at first for about an hour, and then for gradually increasing periods of time.
His progress was slow but steady. He continued to grow stronger and after six or seven months he had recovered sufficiently to be able to return to work.
About eight years later, we were again called to see him, this time because he had suffered a mild stroke. He was then about sixty-seven years old. He had continued at his work since his original recovery until then. After about two and a half or three months of the same type of care, Mr. S. was again able to return to his job.
We were called to see him once more when he was about seventy-two years old, about 14 years after we had first treated him for his congestive heart failure. Again we found him suffering from difficult breathing, swollen legs and abdomen, and again he had difficulty passing his urine.
Members of his family expressed the opinion that worry because of the induction of his grandson into the Armed Forces had contributed to his breakdown this time.
A short fast followed by a carefully regulated program, plus good nursing care and rest in bed, brought about sufficient improvement to enable him to get out of bed and finally go outdoors for short periods of time, but could not completely clear up the swelling of his ankles and feet.
The family, hoping that medical care might bring added improvement, then decided to call in a physician who administered a variety of drugs. Results were disappointing, however, and the patient died a few months later. By that time the family accepted his death as a welcome relief, since they felt that his lingering existence caused him a great deal of misery.
Frankly we expected him to die years ago and never thought that he would have so many more years of good life, was his wifes comment at that time.
The question is not merely one of controlling the food intake or of providing enough rest, but of making sure that every little detail that enters into the management of a case of this kind be carefully controlled.
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