The Play Cure
THE PLAY CURE.
WHAT hygienist has not dreamed " of a modern "Cure," in which all the resources of nature should be blended in ideal harmony to heal the suffering? Shall I speak for myself and confess somewhat of my dream?
I have watched these people who come to "Cures." They are what Whitman calls "civilizees." They have played too hard at artificial pleasure, or have worked too hard at unnatural work. They are tired and listless, or their nerves are on edge, or they are bloated and clogged. They are all victims of the too much.
Over the door of my Temple of Health I would inscribe, "Except ye become as little children ye cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." The child is the perpetual reiteration of the savage in our conventional experiments. He continually recalls us to the natural, the beautiful, the well-proven, and the primitive. When we seek for healthful things we cannot do better than take the child or the savage, they are the same, for our teachers. Not blindly, of course, nor in all matters of detail, but in the general lesson of their instincts.
Let the child alone and what will he do? He will seek nature, he will be amused, he will keep moving when awake, he will go to bed early and sleep as long as he wants to, and he will not overwork mentally or physically, nor fret himself deeply about any mental moral or material thing. There is your lesson, O victim of the too much!
I would make my patients children. Then I would banish books and newspapers. I would prevent discussions, arguments, business conversations. I would shut out the outside, grown up, modern, civilized world. I would surround my "Cure" with wide playgrounds, and I would go with my patients, play with them, and make them play baseball, cricket, football, croquet, tennis, lacrosse, grace-hoops, polo, bowling, tag, hare and hounds, archery, throwing the lasso and bolas, horseback and bicycle riding, leaping, wrestling, boxing, spinning tops, flying kites, skating, coasting, snowballing, marbles—anything and everything that a healthy boy would find sport in. Always, of course, with a careful reference to the patient's powers, always with rigorous insistence that after every laborious game an equal time should be spent in utter rest in the patient's apartments, alone, or with only a nurse or physician present.
Could I command it, I would have woods, hills, and much lovely nature around my "Cure," so that the patients could take long walks and runs and still be away from the stimulus of man.
And water, where they might wade, fish, boat, and swim. There is great healing in water, even in the sight of it.
Of course, there would often be patients who would have to be exceptions ; but it is the spirit of the thing I insist upon, to be applied as circumstances suggest or dictate. The motto of the wise physician is always "Common-sense and no cast-iron theories."
Keep the patients exercising in a way that compels their interest, gives them pleasure, and yet is a change from their past and customary life.
Have no routine, but work intelligently, with tact, and reference to the individual patient.
Much water cure is not needed in chronic cases where there is abundant exercise. The most healthful bath a man can take is one in his own perspiration. And a swim is worth a dozen packs.
I would that everything should seem as much like comfort and sport, and as little like business and doctoring, as possible. But where the patient could not take exercise I would have exercise imparted by massage. Where the patient could not move fast enough to perspire I would sweat him by the Turkish bath. If he could not go out into the sunshine I would bring his couch to the sun. If he could not run I would insist upon frequent deep breathings. For these three things, motion, perspiration, oxygenation, are essential and dare not be neglected.
For many sensitive patients, ladies and children especially, magnetic currents, passings and strokings are immensely beneficial, restful and health-giving. A place for these, too.
I would insist upon reform dresses for lady patients, and for both sexes and all ages as much openness of attire to sun, earth and air as could be contrived. From June to September bare feet for all able to walk and run. In the summer time all sleeping to be under canvas or in the open air altogether.
On the vexed question of diet I would be especially adaptable. It is well nigh impossible to treat any two alike here. Individual peculiarities, normal and abnormal, have constantly to be reckoned with, as well as taste, and the need of change, and the gradual transition from bad dietetic habits to better.
For this one a cooling diet, for that one a stimulating; laxative for this, constipating for that; restraint for you, and encouragement for your neighbor. One meal, two meals, three or five. Indulgence here and limitation there, but for all as speedy change as may be to simplicity and temperance. I am not, and expect never to be, a convert to any inflexible dietetic side, but of all the set systems that of the Densmores seems to me the most reasonable, useful and sane.
I would have patients eat at small tables, for two only, a man and a woman at each. One table for one guest would be better, perhaps, in carrying out the individual prescriptions of diet, but some company is necessary, and' that of the other sex always preferable.
And withal, the mental atmosphere of my "Cure" radiated from the face and personality of every attendant, should be cheerful, kindly, homelike, unconventional, informal, magnetically healthful and inspiring.
The character and magnetic aura and influence of the physician and attendants is the most important matter in the curative "altogether" of any home for the sick.—J. Wm. Lloyd.