Yellow fever

Monday 11th – fine weather. Slight headache in the morning, which gradually increased till that night it became unsupportable & forced me to turn in at 6 oClock. Before retiring I took some medicine, & found considerable relief from the recumbent position. No thirst – foul tongue – pains in the limbs nor rigours. I slept tolerably.

Am stricken by fever

Tuesday 12th – this morning thought myself much better – got up but found the headache return immediately. During the [day] the symptoms of my illness became less and less equivocal, till I judge that I was labouring under an attack of Yellow fever which opinion was confirmed by D.Glasgow. Of course I was confined to my couch & know nothing of what occurred for many days afterwards. Luckily for me, the wind being favourable our Captain was induced to start this night, so that at 9 P.M. we weighed anchor and set sail for Havanna.

The period from our departure from Vera Cruz till our arrival at Havanna must be completely closed as to the nature of our passage, whether the wind was foul & the weather was bad or vice versa, I had enough to do to attend to myself.

My own Cabin being small, hot and confined, increasing the fever M.A Snell most kindly gave the cot he had in his brothers Cabin for my use. There then I awaited the issue of my sickness, and there I learned from sad experience to be able to sympathise most cordially with those in the same situation.

I was not long in finding out that the type of my fever was decidedly remittent. At 5 P.M., within the difference of 15 minutes, on every alternate day, I experienced very slight rigors, so that the least motion or touch would occasion a shudder. This stage was in half an hour succeeded by a violent hot fit, which almost drove me mad, & which terminated in great perspiration with considerable relief. During the intermission I was so so – never free from fever. After enduring two exacerbations or paroxysms, I had recourse to Quinine, which of course I took under the usual precautions. I anxiously awaited the result. The dose being too small, its effect was only to render shorter its duration, & less[en] its violence – but previous to the next I took ag.s.t & escaped any attack at all. Of course I continued to pursue the same plan & with the same success for some time, & every [day] for weeks after I was convalescent it was a daily medicine, only in diminished quantities. On two occasions I have taken 15 grains previous to the paroxysms & 6 grains on the intermediate day. Afterward I found that 12 taken in the course of the day with four or five in the alternate day were quite sufficient for my purpose. Afterwards I gradually reduced the dose, till I finally left it off.

Besides the Quinine I used to take large doses of Calomel & Colocynth. I think I took 150 grains in 17 days with a beneficial effect upon the liver & bowels, but with a very prejudicial one to the Stomach. I was not salivated at all by the quantity. A dull heavy pain & weight in my liver was completely removed.

One curious effect (I mean new to me) was that every day at half past three in the afternoon, I suddenly became deaf. I could hear nothing – even loud sounds. From experiment I found that this proceeded from the Quinine – but the medus of this action I shall leave to others to explain without saying what I may think myself.

Thanks be to God for all his mercies to sinful and ungrateful men – I recovered gradually and slowly & long suffered from debility. Providentially I had no delusions, as otherwise no one could have said what might have been the consequence since none could have administered the remedies I required. For a many nights I never enjoyed sleep – indeed not even after I had arrived in Falmouth was I able to sleep more than an hour. I dozed much but was sensible at the slightest noise.

Before the time when we reached Havana I was able to get up and with some difficulty to walk in the Cabin. Every day my strength increased but I did not venture upon deck until the morning of …

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