The degree of seclusion should be prescribed from the first, and it is far better to find that the original rules may be profitably relaxed than to be obliged to draw the lines more strictly when the patient has at first been indulged. For instance, it is well to forbid the receipt of any letters from home, unless anxious relatives insist that the patient must have home news. In that case the letters should be mere bulletins, should contain nothing, no matter how trifling, that might annoy a too sensitive person, and, most important of all, should come to the nurse and by her be read to the patient.
I have said more than once in the early chapters of this little volume that the treatment I wished to advise as of use in a certain range of cases was made up of rest, massage, electricity, and over-feeding. I said that the use of large amounts of food while at rest, more or less entire, was made possible by the practice of kneading the muscles and by moving them with currents able to effect this end. I desire now to discuss in turn the modes in which I employ rest, massage, and electricity, and, as I have promised, I shall take pains to give, in regard to these three subjects, the fullest details, because success in the treatment depends, I am sure, on the care with which we look after a number of things each in itself apparently of slight moment.
I have no doubt that many doctors have seen fit at times to put their patients at rest for great or small lengths of time, but the person who of all others within my knowledge used this means most, and used it so as to obtain the best results, was the late Professor Samuel Jackson. He was in the habit of making his patients remain in bed for many weeks at a time, and, if I recall his cases well, he used this treatment in just the class of disorders among women which have given me the best results. What these are I have been at some pains to define, and I have now only to show why in such people rest is of service, and what I mean by rest, and how I apply it.
In No. IV. of Dr. Seguin’s series of American Clinical Lectures, I was at some pains to point out the value of repose in neuralgias, and especially sciatica, in myelitis, and in the early stages of locomotor ataxia, and I have since then had the pleasure of seeing these views very fully accepted. I shall now confine myself chiefly to its use in the various forms of weakness which exist with thin blood and wasting, with or without distinct lesions of the stomach, womb, or other organs.