NLW 21387E, rhif 6

'on the effects of Electricity on me'

I had, from a child, been afflicted with a complication of the nervous and pituitous asthma, from the 18th, to about ye 30th year of my age I had been, to all appearance, several times in the last stage of a consumption, but being naturally abstemious, never using gross food or strong liquors I, to the astonishment of all that knew me, got the better of this, in general, most incurable of all disorders; the habit of using laudanum daily for more than twenty years, I believe, contrary to the opinion of most people, greatly contributed to free me from the jaws of death, wherein I had often been held, I had, since I remember, been often afflicted with the vertigo, violent twitchings and many other nervous complaints. In the year 1792, and 45th of my age, I was every evening much afflicted with violent twitching and involuntary motions of hands, feet, &c I applied to Mr Long Operator in electricity in Compton street Soho, who electrified me, drawing sparks, repeatedly from my hands, arms, breast, knees, &c, after which I went about my business, and in about half an hour, a gentle perspiration came on. in about two or three hours after, I felt my breast relieved considerable from a painful constriction, which I had not been free for many years. I had less cough than usual, could breathe with greater ease, hold myself quite upright, and tho' the twitching returned in the evening, yet they affected me something differently from what was usual, less in my breast and arms, rather more in my back, as usual in my knees and feet, but not attended with as much depression of spirits as I had generally experienced, when in bed I had but two or three startings, but those more violent than common, fell into a gentle perspiration, and slept tolerably well, I very seldom sleep well, the next day I was again electrified, this brought on a gentle perspiration, I was also affected with a slight vertigo, a high pulse, and in about half an hour felt a feverish heat and headache. about an hour after had a pretty high fever with some delirium which abated a little about three o clock, I had been all the while out on business, but about four o clock I came home to my lodgings, could eat no dinner, lay down on the bed, a gentle perspiration ensues, and I slept a little, and when called up to tea about six o clock, I found my fever gone, it was about this time the twitchings or startings usually came on. but this evening I had but two starts and those not very violent, but I felt very frequently an internal spasm, that did not produce any external motion or starting, this was followed by a sharp which was however soon over. this spasmodic affection was not in any particular part but thro' my whole body. the pain that succeeded generally affected my breast, shoulders, elbows, knees, and other joints, [a]bout ten o clock a kind of eruption like the stinging of nettles appeared on my breast, arms, and knees, I went to bed and felt soon after such a [su]spension of respiration, that I thought myself on the point of suffocation, whatever side I lay on it soon became deprived of all feeling and paralytic, when i [..]rned or the other side that also became affected in the same manner, when the (6b) upper side recovered the sense of feeling a very painful sensation ensued, very much like having been beat or bruised all over, I continued in this manner all night, in the morning about six o clock I arose, low spirited, and my nerves in general very much affected, but with an entire change of symptoms, no startings such as I used to have in the morning before I began to take some exercise, but a very painful irritability that I cannot well describe much now and then faltered a little, but an hour's hard work greatly relieved me, and after I had breakfasted, found my complaints removed, had a great discharge of wind upwards, which I have not experienced for many years. My cough has been thro the who[le] day and night much less than usual, and tho' my nerves have been painfully affected, yet the symptoms are seemingly so entirely changed, as to induce me to think that they prognosticate good effects, the eruption has entirely disappeared.

Third day, (Wednesday)
[no further comment]