‘Apart from the difficulty of the journey itself to Grafenberg, close to the Polish border, patients at Priessnitz’s new establishment were subjected to spartan bedrooms whose windows were kept wide open to the winter night. You were woken at four o’clock in the morning and wrapped from neck to toe in wet linen. Thus mummified, you were left to sweat for an hour or so, then introduced to a thirty-foot cold bath, with water at forty-three to fifty degrees, for two or three minutes. By six o’clock, you were out walking in the forest, returning to a breakfast of brown bread and strawberries, followed by a rest. You were roused later for an uphill walk some way into the forest to the open-air douche. This was a natural mountain stream diverted into a pipe supported on a wooden gantry, spouting a waterfall from a height of twenty feet. You stood underneath, and the icy pummelling it gave you was a kind of cold-water massage. On the walk back, you would drink water at the springs. Preissnitz liked his patients to drink twenty or thirty glasses a day. The rest of the morning was your own to while away with a spot of wood-cutting in your bedroom, or snow-clearing. Then, shortly before lunch, you would spend a quarter of an hour sitting in a shallow, cold bath. Lunch was cabbage, gherkins and springwater, then a rest, followed by a four o’clock douche in the woods, a seven o’clock cold bath, supper of bread, butter and milk, and bed at half-past nine. On top of all this, there was a hefty bill to pay on your release, but Priessnitz claimed to be able to cure gout pains within a day. The sanatorium, known as the ‘Water University’, still exists at Grafenberg, with a statue representing Priessnitz and the spirit of cold water outside. In 1997, one of the patients attempted to blow it up.’
Roger Deakin,Waterlog, chapter 9.Sorry – we don’t offer this prescription at our establishment!
– U Beyond parody. “The rest of the morning was your own…”: I choked on my coffee.