I WAS hurried in from the office to see a patient in the next room. He certainly was very sick. It was the canary. He had been taken suddenly ill. He was lying there on his right side with eyelids closed taking note of nothing unless his cage was touched then he would look about a little. When picked up he would revive some and when replaced in the cage he would get up on his perch and sit there awhile with eyelids half closed, then wobble and fall off, try to stand, fluttering weakly, then fall over on his right side with his legs stretched up in the air at first, then they would sink slowly down and he would lie relaxed.
His little ghost was apparently exhausted and ready to depart, yet it would take a fresh hold of him and he would struggle up for a little only to have to give in again. This was tried several times. i then learned that his supply of drinking water had been neglected (we always give him good spring water, of which he is fond) and that when given some he had drunk inordinately as if he never would stop. An unusual rotundity in the region where his vest would be seemed to verify this history.
Besides the weakness he was very sleepy, there was no doubt of it. One thing was peculiar, when well he never cared to have people near the cage except children. He was very fond of children and would meet them at the side of his cage at any time, but now he was positively comforted by the older ones. Instead of rebelling against being picked up as formerly, now he seemed to be comforted by it and liked to rest in the hand as if it comforted him.
Of course you all know the remedy. We gave him a dose of Dunhams 200th of Phosphorus. Even as we waited there a little, we could see that he was becoming less dopy, his eye brighter and he did not fall over again, so I returned to the office. in a little while shrieks from the kidlets announced, “The bird is getting better”; and he did. He did not sing any more that day but he did the next and has been at it ever since.
Success with the bird so enhanced my reputation in my family that I was called into the dinner-room again, this time to see one of the goldfish. It was said that he had been “going bad” for two weeks and now seemed to be “going out”. His age was against him, too, for he was not a spring chicken by any means. Unlike the canary, he was to sick to care which side he would lie on, nothing seemed to matter now, he had apparently collapsed and no doubt might have been covered with a cold perspiration if one could but notice it.
His respiration was very slow and shallow compared to the other fishes and at times would stop long enough to make one wonder whether he were not through for good. The white parts of him were very pale, almost transparent. No doubt if he could have spoken our language he would have asked someone to fan him. He was bloated all over and his belly terribly so, especially the forward part of it. One of the children asked if I thought he also had drunk too much water ! His eye had a cast like the ones seen in a market. The fins and tail were lifeless, they hardly moved at all. Stringy mucus hung out from the gills.
So I slipped a power of Carbo veg. 1m into his corner and would you believe it, in about five minutes his breathing had quickened, it was deeper and regular. under a little jostling with the finger he wobbled dolefully to another corner of his pen and lay there. i then forget the incident entirely until, coming down early next morning, there was that fish sporting around as lively as any in the tank. He acts perfectly normal, better than for weeks, they say.
When I see such incidents I am reminded of the scriptural reference “and one (Sparrow) shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” However childish and contrary to the facts the common interpretation of this saying may be, to me it states the immanence of evolving being and signifies that nothing ever happens within our ken that is outside of ever-present natural law.
But after a few weeks the fish was failing again. This time his expression were entirely different. The peculiarity was that although this fish was very much done up he went about his interests and duties the same as usual. That is, he tried to. He went around here and there in the tank up and down, turning this way and that constantly as all goldfish do. But all his doings were slowed down and feeble. His long fins and tail not only moved feebly but hung down all the time, showing weakness of the cerebro-spinal system.