I have been two weeks in this house. Today is the sixth night of my third week here. What I have just witnessed, I must relate... if for no other reason than there should be a written account of it. I cannot say whether it is remarkable or frightening. I suppose it could be characterized as both.
Last night, I did as was customary: entering the room of the patient just after midnight. She was already asleep. I hoped to God that this might be a calm night, as had been the previous two nights. I did not know that this would be one of the worst I had until then experienced.
The fire was low and I sat up reading the newspaper by the aid of a single candle. I’d had a cup of tea to keep alert, but soon I felt tired. I rested my eyes for a few moments but was awoken by a shrill scream. These screams were not uncommon during the night-terrors and I reacted as any doctor might. I flew to the patient’s side and arrested her to prevent self-harm. She thrashed about and cried out. I took her wrists, but they were hot to the touch. I tell you, it were as though her arms were red-hot! She seemed to calm for a moment but still breathed hard. I saw that she was extremely flushed, so I retrieved a draught I prepared for high fevers.
She swore and yelled that she was burning. Before I could return to her, she'd flung herself from the bed and retrieved her full washing pitcher. Mouth open, she poured the water over her face. She fell to the floor, limp as an abandoned marionette, destroying the pitcher in the process.
I could not understand it. Steam rose from her body as though she had, indeed, been engulfed in flame. I hefted her up and lay her upon the bed. She was wet through and unconscious. I tried as delicately as possible to remove her gown. Her skin was quite red, as though she'd been roasting. I replaced the garment with another dry one.
I removed from my bag a good thermometer. I have never seen fault with its readings. Her temperatures were atrocious. Such a fever would kill anyone. I was shocked. The glass on the thermometer shattered.
Baffled, I called for a footman to bring a bath. With the aid of another footman, he ushered in the porcelain giant but by the time they set it on the floor, her skin was no longer flushed and her temperature was, by my judgment, normal. She slept soundly for the rest of the night.
I am a learned man of seven-and-forty years and twenty of those years have been spent practicing medicine and I tell you now, I have never seen such a violent fever. And for it to come and go as it did, was a spectacle to behold. Her screams still cling to my memory. I awoke myself in the middle of this afternoon with the shrill cry in my ears. And at the time of my waking, she was not even in the house. I wholly blame fatigue and hope to dispense with that issue tomorrow.
Until then, I have a night left in this week of observation before starting a new one on Monday. Look for my next letter to come soon. I shall keep you abreast of every detail.
I hope you and your family are well.