A PHYSICIAN'S REASONS FOR BECOMING A CHRISTIAN SCIENTIST
Milwaukee (Wis.) Wisconsin
I want to tell why I gave up the practice of medicine and surgery to devote myself to Christian Science work. ... About six years ago I was obliged, on account of tuberculosis of the lungs, to abandon my medical practice in Chicago and go to Arizona, where it was hoped, against expectation, by those who advised this move that the disease might be overcome; but the prognosis was that I would not live more than a few months. I myself had discovered accidentally the presence of the disease more than a year before the time of leaving Chicago, but had delayed following the advice which I would have given to any one else, partly with the hope that I could overcome the trouble without the aid of a more favorable climate and partly through dread of the life at a consumptive resort. However, during the last two months preceding my leaving for Arizona the hemorrhages became so frequent and profuse that it was no longer possible for me to go on with my work, and I accepted what seemed to be the inevitable. During the year previous to my leaving Chicago I had been depending upon alcohol and opium in different forms to control as far as possible the symptoms of the lung trouble. ...
After reaching Arizona I made use of the best dietary and hygienic means possible, and although for about two months my condition grew worse, from that time on there was improvement and I was able to resume the practice of my profession. The use of opium was abandoned for brief periods several times during the next three years, but never for any great length of time, although the tortures incident to the giving up of its use would seem sufficient to prevent its resumption. It is the common story, however, that the memory of these struggles fades in the presence of the demand for the drug. To a physician who once allows himself to look to opium and alcohol for support, the temptation to use them is particularly strong, since they are ever at his hand, in his case or on his shelves, and the demands upon his energies and vitality, coming at all hours of the day and night, give him excuse to himself for the use of some unusual stimulant. Frequently this is the story: The whisky is the first helper appealed to, and in most cases either whisky or strychnine or both are the only ones ever used; but when there has been so much whisky taken that its effects are apparent, or it is feared that such will be the case, it is easy to believe that it will be best to correct this overdose of alcohol with a little opium in some form. As in my case, the opium is often taken for its sedative effect upon some irritating symptom. When the indulgence in opium has been carried so far that it is taken for a narcotic effect and there is dulness and disinclination to mental or physical exertion, or there is produced a drowsiness which is noticeable, then there is a suggestion that a little cocaine will wake one up, and from that time on the story hastens to its finish—absolute irresponsibility, insanity, and death. And it is recognized that there is no more hopeless task than the attempt to break this triple chain. ... I experimented with every means which offered any, even slight, promise of permanent relief, including hypnotism. As a last resort I put myself in the hands of the best-known hypnotist in Southern California, in the hope that a new suggestion might relieve me of the old one. ... I went to him to regain my self-control, but as a matter of fact I lost what little restraint and self-government I had possessed before this experiment. I had voluntarily attempted to yield myself temporarily to the control of another human mind, and that which I had yielded had gone from me entirely. After this my physical and mental condition grew rapidly worse, until within a few weeks there was no reason left. After a period of entire irresponsibility, lasting about a week and followed by unconsciousness for something more than forty-eight hours, a number of physicians who had known me for several months, in consultation pronounced me incurable, and told my friends that I had from a few days to a few weeks to live. A private sanitarium to which my wife applied refused to admit me on account of the hopelessness of the case, and the plan was that I should be taken the following day to the State insane asylum.
During the evening following this verdict a lady suggested with much trepidation the advisability of calling a Christian Science practitioner, and my wife consented that this be done, not with a feeling that anything could be accomplished, but in the same spirit of desperation in which any other harmless although probably useless thing would have been allowed. A practitioner came and remained with me three hours. At the end of the first hour I was sleeping quietly, and when I woke about eight o'clock in the morning it was with a clear mind and the absolute conviction, which has not changed since, that I was free and well. I asked what had been done for me, insisting that a radical change had taken place in my physical and mental condition. Naturally the conviction that I had been healed came very slowly to those about me, and it was months before it was fully acknowledged, but to me there was such a mental change that from the first there was no room for doubt. There is no need here to give figures, although I shall be glad to do so privately to any one, physician or layman, but I will say that so far as I know there is no instance in medical literature of the recovery of any one taking the amount of those drugs which I was taking up to the time referred to. And to one who knows the state of the nervous system and of the digestive organs which exists in such cases, it is stating it mildly to say that the most remarkable feature of the cure was that there was no period of convalescence. From the time of my waking on the morning following the treatment there was no nervousness or twitching, sleep was natural and quiet, appetite healthy, digestive functions all in good working order, and mind clear and composed. The same afternoon I drove my automobile for two hours without weariness or excitement of any kind. During the following thirty days I gained thirty pounds in weight. Within ten days of the time that I was pronounced incurable I undertook a most arduous trip across the Nevada desert, where unusual endurance and physical strength were absolutely necessary, and I found that I had an abundance of both. Moreover, from the day of the treatment to the present time there has never been any desire for alcohol, opium in any form, cocaine, or any other stimulant or drug.
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