페이지 이미지
PDF

eighteen months' residence in the woods— to put it as you and I would put it—has cured a man in the last stages of consumption; it has checked, as the faculty might phrase it, a case of far-developed pulmomary phthisis. The lucky fellow who thus falls heir to a new lease of life thanks God, and goes back to his old trade of reporting—this time to report his experience in health-hunting in the Adirondack Wilderness. It is now nearly two years since Dr. A. L. Loomis, of New York city, read before the State Medical Society a paper entitled “The Adirondack Region as a Therapeutical Agent in the Treatment of Pulmonary Phthisis.” This paper was afterward printed in the Medical Record. One outside the pale of the medical profession may not be permitted to praise a purely technical dissertation, but the writer can not forego this opportunity to bear testimony to the individual benefit which he, at least, derived from the distinguished physician's essay. Without it, it is pretty sure that this magazine article would never have been prepared. What Dr. Loomis had to say about pulmonary disease naturally carried with it much weight; and what he had to say of the St. Regis country certainly awakened a very profound interest in that subject among physicians throughout the country. Dr. Edward W. Victor, of Brooklyn, who started the writer on his way to the wilderness, and Dr. William H. Watson, of Utica, now Surgeon-General of this State, who encouraged the patient to carry out the project, were by no means the only doctors of repute who were made enthusiastic by Dr. Loomis's paper. Within the scope of an article like this, it is, of course, impossible to give more than a brief summary of Dr. Loomis's comprehensive statement.* After expressing it as his belief that climate is the most important factor in the treatment of pulmonary phthisis, and giving a brief description of the three varieties of the disease which he clinically and pathologically recognizes, the professor proceeds to point out the advantages of the St. Regis country as they have become known to him

* To those readers who may desire to possess the paper in its entirety I would say that it appeared in Vol. XV., Nos. 17 and 18, of the Medical Record, published by William Wood and Co., of New York city. Copies of these numbers could be obtained a few months ago, and probably can at this time.

through observation and experience. He dwells especially upon the dryness of the soil to be found there—a condition which he regards as of the greatest importance in the home of a phthisical invalid. Of the climate of the Adirondack region, the paper regards it as moist and cool, with a rain-fall somewhat above the average for other portions of the State; a dry period in summer, when the days become hot, but the nights remain almost always cool; a winter in which the cold is almost uninterrupted, no thawing of any consequence taking place before March; then, owing to the sieve-like nature of the soil, the snow disappears rapidly. There is no preponderance of clear days at any season, while cool, cloudy weather is the characteristic feature of the climate. In all this there would appear to be nothing to recommend this locality to the phthisical patient; but it is the absolute purity of the air here which accomplishes the good results. Pine, balsam, spruce, and hemlock trees abound, and the atmosphere is heavily laden with ozone. The resinous odors of the evergreens, admitted to be most beneficial to diseased mucous membranes, are brought into contact with the air-passages, and the patient lives within a zone which separates him from the impurities of the outer world. In a communication from Dr. Edward L. Trudeau, who has himself given the St. Regis country a trial of some years for the cure of phthisis, he tells Dr. Loomis that from personal experience he believes that any comparison of the relative good effects of the climate of Minnesota, Colorado, or the South, with that of the Adirondack Wilderness, is decidedly in favor of the latter. Dr. Loomis next proceeds to give the results obtained from a fair trial of this region. He cites twenty cases of persons who have tested the wilderness experiment, and of these, after an extended trial, he reports ten as recovered, six as improved, two as not benefited, and two who died. It may be a matter of surprise to a large number of persons acquainted with Dr. Loomis that he himself was at one time threatened with consumption. “The only survivor of a family,” he tells us, “every member of which, save perhaps one, had died of phthisis, I had come to regard my case as a critical one. A Southern trip had not relieved, if it had not aggravated, my phthisical symptoms. In this condition I went into this region, and into camp, and when, before the summer months had passed, I came out of the Adirondacks, or North Woods, free from cough, with an increase in weight of about twenty pounds, with greater physical vigor than I had known for years, I very naturally became an enthusiast in regard to them..... From time to time, since that summer eleven years ago, I have sent phthisical invalids into this region. At first I sent them only during the summer months; but I found that while temporary relief was afforded, and in some instances marked improvement took place, in cases of fully developed phthisis the latter was not permanent, and although the winter months might be spent at the South, yet before another summer came around, the disease progressed. Not until 1873 was I able to persuade any phthisical invalid to remain during the winter. The effect of the winter climate on this invalid showed so markedly the benefit to be derived from a winter's residence in this region, that from that time, each winter, others have been induced to remain.” With respect to the several cases reported by Dr. Loomis, it may be said that in a majority of instances no improvement was perceptible until some time after the patient had taken up his residence in the region. Each case had a long history of getting better or worse, but each advance toward recovery was more marked than the former. The ten absolute cures were effected in catarrhal phthisis, and it is this form of the disease which seems to be most benefited by the wilderness. Almost without exception, the improvement appeared more rapid in winter than in summer. “I shall have accomplished my purpose,” says Dr. Loomis, in conclusion, “if by this hastily prepared paper I shall have awakened in my professional brethren the spirit of investigation as regards this extensive health-restoring region within the boundaries of our own State, which we have been passing by, while we have sent phthisical invalids far from home and friends, to regions far less restorative.” Imperfect as this abstract is of Dr. Loomis's paper, it explains more clearly perhaps than otherwise could be done the motive which prompted the Reporter to journey into the wilderness at the time when the physicians had given him only a month longer to live. Here was something to kindle anew the flickering flame of hope. Here was the highest of med

1N The Pine FOREST.

ical authority pointing the way to possible recovery. When he first read these cheering words, the Reporter had already been in the clutches of consumption for a year and a half. His was but the repetition of the old, sad experience of a thousand others who disregard the first small warnings of the dreaded disease; who think nothing of the slight but persistent cough, of the hardly perceptible weakening of the body, of the occasional flushes of fever, of the lessening appetite, of the quickened pulse and shortened breath. Consumption ? Bless your soul, from no branch or twig of his genealogic tree was it possible for the Reporter to draw the wasting sap of phthisis. He had always taken as a matter of course, as we all take it while it is within our grasp, the priceless boon of health. He had done the giant's swing in his college days, digested dreamlessly lobster salad at midnight, stood the strain of newspaper work and boarding-house fare, and never thought of calling upon the doctors for assistance. Yet the insidious disease crept upon him unawares, robbed him of his robust health, and drove him from New York to begin the weary, uneven fight for life. Before that June day when he alighted at “Paul” Smith's, he had travelled the beaten road which consumptives have gone over for generations. Cod-liver oil and quinine had done as much and as little for him as for others. He had spent a summer in the White Mountains, and, encouraged by some temporary improvement, had rashly returned to New York, and to his

[graphic]

ment which surpassed that of either physicians or friends. Appreciating, however, as he did, that it was the last card he had to play in the game, and sustained as he was by the presence of a brave and loving wife, he doubtless received more praise for his pluck than he deserved. If he had died, the St. Regis

“PAUL" SMITH's hotel.

desk in a newspaper office. But the disease was merely trifling with its victim. In the winter of 1878–79 it laid him low— so low that when he set out for his trip to the Adirondack woods it was a matter of grave doubt whether he would live to reach his destination. After two weeks spent at “Paul” Smith's, during which time his condition was so precarious as to make the experiment of camp life seemingly foolhardy, the Reporter pitched his tent, and began the trial of the wilderness cure. He was made as comfortable as, under the circumstances, he could be, but it was weeks before any positive improvement in his condition manifested itself. In those weeks he displayed a faith in the experi

dwellers would have remarked, with refreshing unanimity—and possibly the doctors would have echoed the remark—“We told you so.” Not dying, he has lived to receive the congratulations of the community upon what each individual member thereof was confident would be the result. Before attempting a description of what life here is, or endeavoring to point out some facts which may be of service to those who care to give the experiment a trial, it is all-essential that the Reporter should impress upon his readers one or two preliminary truths. The first of these is that the writer of this article is not a physician; and while, therefore, his personal experience may serve as a proof of what the wilderness cure has accomplished in an individual case, he does not consider himself competent to advise others, nor would he presume to recommend them, to make the experiment without consultation with a trusted physician. Secondly, it is to be borne in mind that if anything like a fair trial is to be given the experiment, the patient must make up his mind to spend at least a year in the woods. For, as a rule, without the winter residence, little permanent good can be accomplished. Again, the consumptive who comes into the wilderness must come with faith large enough to bridge him over weeks, and perhaps months, wherein his condition will remain apparently unchanged. Still, again, he must make up his mind to put up with certain inconveniences, and to depend largely upon himself for resources of amusement. If he can not bring himself to endure such an exile with a reasonable degree of cheerfulness, or if upon the first indications of improvement he shall pack his traps and go out of the woods, it would be wiser not to try the experiment at all. With these conditions thoroughly understood, let us see what awaits the invalid who penetrates these backwoods in the search for health. To begin with, camp life is to be considered as perhaps the most important feature of the wilderness cure. When the Reporter first came into the woods, his ideas with regard to this matter of camping out were vague in the extreme. Having faithfully read all the books on the Adirondacks that he could find, the impression left was a jumble of woollen blankets, rubber coats, hemlock boughs, salt pork, and a frying-pan. To-day he is glad to be able to report that camping out, so far as it relates to the St. Regis country, may be absolutely dissociated from pork, frying-pans, and all other abominations. Here, forty miles in the wilderness, one may surround himself with all the comforts and nearly all the luxuries that he can enjoy in his own city home. This assertion is made, of course, on the assumption that the camp is to be permanent, and built within easy access of some one of the hotels. It also presumes, as does, indeed, this entire narrative, that the camper-out is an invalid, and that his backwoods life is to be made, first of all, to contribute to the success of the great health hunt. In selecting a

[graphic]

spot for the patient's camp, it will be well to keep within a radius of a mile or two of a hotel—in the St. Regis region, for the purpose of definiteness, we will say within a mile or two of “Paul” Smith's. The ground should be high, bordering a lake, abundantly supplied with trees, and, if possible, accessible from the main road by wagon. It would be better to build a camp within five hundred feet of the hotel than to strike out too far from the centre of supplies. The high ground is desirable to catch the breeze, and thus avoid the insect nuisance. As the mountain ponds serve largely for highways of travel, a camp should be so located as to bring a boat into play. Hundreds of desirable points not yet occupied are to be found on the Upper and Lower St. Regis lakes, Spitfire and Osgood ponds. The Reporter's camp stood on the last-mentioned, covering a bluff forty feet high, which projected into the water, peninsula-like. Perhaps a description of this wilderness abode may serve best to convey to the uninitiated reader some fair idea of what an invalid's camp may be. Look, then, if you please, at Camp Lou. Standing, as has been said, on a bluff which stretches into the deep clear waters of the little mountain lake, the natural advantages of the spot for the purpose desired could hardly be surpassed. Almost always a cool breeze sweeps across the water, making the air, even in the hottest days, deliciously fresh. Standing here, the eye of the observer can nowhere in the broad range of vision discover aught to mar the face of nature as fashioned by nature's God. Nothing hints of man's laborious toil. Not a house, nor barn, nor fence, nor foot of cultivated ground. Nothing but the sentinel pines, and all the fragrant family of evergreens, the blue mountains, the clear transparent lake, and the overarching sky. The earth is carpeted with a luxuriant growth of moss, intermingled with pine needles, stubby partridge-grass, and graceful ferns. Facing the lake, and in line with the precipitous bank, stand the bark buildings and canvas tent which collectively make up the “camp.” These bark structures, half a dozen in number, vary in size from eight to twelve feet square. They serve respectively as a store-room, a diningroom, a pantry, a kitchen, and servants' sleeping quarters. They are constructed of a frame of poles with bark coverings, are floored, lighted by windows, and made secure by doors. The most pretentious of the group has a porch in front provided with rustic seats, while one standing nearest the brink of the high bank is left open at the sides and ends in arbor fashion, and serves as a dining spot when the weather is fair. Nothing can be prettier in their way than these bark buildings, and yet they can be erected by any competent guide, and at insignificant expense. All the implements of domestic nature may be found in the kitchen and pantry, and if you descend the secure stairs to the water's edge, you will find an ice-house, wherein may be stored provisions in goodly quantities. A hundred feet back of the buildings stand the dogkennels, and the less sportsman-like but quite as essential hen-coop. Returning to a spot twenty feet from the bank, you come upon the tent. This is so important a feature of the wilderness experiment that the Reporter may be pardoned for giving a pretty minute description of its construction and purposes. Without a good tent, the invalid's camp life can not possibly be made satisfactory. After spending half the nights in the last year and a half under canvas, it would be eminently at variance with the genius of his calling if the Reporter neglected to emphasize the fact that he believes his own improvement, as well as that of many others who have found health in the Adirondacks, is due more to the tent than to any other single agency. In inclement weather the invalid in camp seeks shelter in his tent; or he lounges there in cool days to read or write; he spends his evenings there, and his nights there: altogether, he passes three-fourths of his time in his tent. Were he not in camp, he would spend a like period in-doors. The difference is, that the tent, while it gives him all the protection he seeks, still furnishes the diseased lungs with air which, for all practical purposes, is as pure as that outof-doors ; while the house, to which he would necessarily turn in the city, poisons, during this three-fourths of the day, the delicate and already wasted lung tissue. Here is the tent. Look at it inside and out, a little critically, if you please, for it will bear the test. It is what is known as a “wall” tent, the walls being nothing more or less than sides. The dimensions are twelve feet square, the walls five feet

high, and the upright poles, which run to the apex of what would be the roof, if tents had roofs, eleven feet and a half. As a protection to the tent proper, as well as a means of insuring absolute security against rain, a second covering of canvas or heavy cotton cloth, technically known as a fly, is stretched over the ridge-pole, and brought down to within three feet of the ground. You will observe that the guy-ropes are not fastened to stakes, as you have been accustomed to see them in lawn tents, but are secured to stout horizontal poles running parallel with the side walls, and a trifle higher than the latter. These poles, resting upon others driven perpendicularly into the earth, are about eighteen inches from the walls of the tent. Again, notice that the bottom of the canvas is drawn tightly down and tacked to the planks which form the outer boundary of the floor. All the guyropes of both tent and fly are so arranged as to be readily adjusted to any desired tension, for the effect of the atmosphere upon canvas necessitates frequent loosening and tightening of the stays. This stove-pipe, you see, runs out from a zinccircled hole in the tent wall horizontally a distance of four or five feet, and is then turned upward by an elbow, to serve as a chimney. So much for the exterior; now step inside. The entrance is guarded by a piazza as wide as is the tent, and five feet in depth. That word “guarded” is not a misuse of language, for, without the raised piazza, the interior of your tent would be tracked with sand, rained upon, if you wanted the flaps open, and, in short, left to the mercy of many disturbing elements. If you come with your mind filled with such notions of camping out as came the Reporter into the wilderness, this interior view will surely surprise you. Not the hint of a hemlock bough here, you see. First, the floor is securely laid of seasoned, matched boards, as a floor should be, painted a steel blue, and liberally covered with rugs and Brussels mats. To your left, compassed round with zinc protectors, and resting upon a stone hearth, is an open stove, attaching to the pipe you saw without. It is a cheery stove, perfectly safe, and pleasantly suggestive of wood fires. In a corner stands a bedstead, bark-covered, provided with hair mattresses, generous-sized pillows, plenty of fine woollen blankets, and with the white counterpane and ruffled shams

« 이전계속 »