Portland, Jan. 19th, 1861
Your letter of the 11th came to hand, but for the want of time, I have been unable to write, and I had anticipated that I might help you by an examination of your case. At the time I received your letter, I felt as though I was with you, explaining to you your case. I will commence now on my way; and as I always sit down by my patient and take them by the hand, I will seat myself by you and commence telling your feelings. So give me your attention, and listen to what I say.
The pain in your head arises from a nervous fear, which you do not understand. This nervous feeling affects you when you are in company, causing a contraction in the stomach, which creates a heat. This heat presses upon the aorta, causing your heart to beat. This causes a flash in your face; brings on a heat all over it, and produces a sort of faint or weak feeling. The fear makes you give way at the pit of the stomach; confines that heat there. This heat numbs the side, like leaning your arm over a chair. This makes the side feel as though it was swollen, and if you compare, you will find the shoulder a little fuller than the other.
When you lie on one side, it feels as though there was a weight pulling you down. This you take for an adhesion to the pleura, but it is in the fluids in the flesh. This numbness is often taken for the lungs, but it is nothing more or less than a nervous heat that heats the muscles at the back of the neck and runs down the chest. This causes a contraction of the chest. This contraction makes you give way, like anyone in the hands of robbers attempting to bind him. Imagine yourself in their hands, and see how you would try not to be bound. You would be in the position of a fly in the foils of a spider. When the fly is buzzing, the spider is still at a distance, but draws in all the slack. So this eternal error that man has invented and named “consumption” binds his victim and then waits to see him try to break the bands. It makes you nervous; this nervousness makes you cough. When the stomach relaxes, the heat passes out of it; then it affects the bowels, also the water, etc.
Now remember, all that the doctors tell you is false. Your lungs are as sound as anyone's; all that you raise comes from your head. The heat presses over your eyes, makes you feel sleepy and tries to escape out of the nose. The cold comes in contact with it, just as the heat comes in contact with the glass on the window; the cold meeting it condenses the heat and forms a frost - then it melts and runs down. So the heat met by the cold produces a chemical change in the head, like the frost, and runs down into the mouth. This is called catarrh; that which runs into the throat, bronchitis. This is all your disease.
I will tell you what you must do. When you receive this letter, I want you to be seated, about eight o'clock in the evening, and take a tumbler of water. As you read this letter, or someone reads it to you, I shall be working on you. You take a little water now-and-then, till you take a tumbler-full. I shall work on your side, and you will feel something like water run down. In a few days, you will sneeze and think you have taken cold. Do not be alarmed. You will be a little sick at the stomach. Then it will work down and produce a diarrhea. This will relieve the cough.
If this comes out right, please let me know.