van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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 10 letters relate to health - venereal...Excerpt length: shorter longer  
Letters from Reverend Van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
... in hospital. 14 June 1882 Vincent was somewhat surprised to see me, he was a little irritated, but I succeeded in bringing him back to a more normal mood, and promised to come back the next day. He does not look bad, his pulse is calm, and he is quite normal.
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(8 or 9 June 1882)
... from insomnia and low fever, and passing water was painful. And now it seems that I really have what they call the “clap,” but only a mild case. So now I have to stay quietly in bed here, swallow many quinine pills, and also have injections now and then, either of pure water or of alum water, so it is as harmless as can be. Therefore you need not worry at all about it. But you know, one must not neglect such things, and should have them attended to at once, because neglect only aggravates it. Witness Breitner, who is still here, though in another ward, and perhaps he will leave soon; he doesn't know I'm here. You will do me a favour by not talking about it, for people sometimes exaggerate so, and gossip makes things seem worse. You're the only one I'm telling exactly what it is; you needn't keep it a secret if anyone should ask you directly, and at all events you needn't get alarmed about it. Of course I had to pay a fortnight in advance, 10.50 guilders...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Anthon van Rappard
(c. 28 June 1882)
... ones of the fish-drying barns on the dunes, I caught a cold, complicated with fever and nerves, all of which seems to have affected my bladder, so that I could not urinate, which finally distressed me so much and was so painful that I came here. Then they messed about in my bladder with a catheter, and so on, so that I am now returning to a more normal condition, of which I am very glad. For all that, I am not cured yet, and I don't know if I shall be able to go home soon or not. I hope it will be over in a week, but of course such things take their own time. It is very pleasant here in this hospital; I am lying in a ward with ten beds, but, as I had to keep quiet, I have not been able to draw until today, and even now it is only a very faint and feeble start; I cannot do what I want and penetrate to the core of things. But now I am allowed to go into the garden for an hour every day, and yesterday I started scribbling a little. And at least I am beginning to look at things...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(1 July 1882)
... and every object and figure more important. But there is still one drawback, for next Thursday I must go to see the doctor again and tell him how I feel; he has warned me that I may have to go to the hospital clinic for another fortnight, or a shorter or longer period, depending on what's necessary, or even be readmitted. At all events, it would be a piece of good luck if I did not have to go back. I must go there as soon as I feel some trouble, and even if I don't feel anything in particular, I must go next Tuesday to be examined. The channel by which the urine is excreted has to be widened little by little, but this cannot be done violently or hurriedly. Gradually the bougies they use get bigger, and every time one is introduced, things are stretched a little more; this is not only very painful but also extremely nauseating, as the thing is left inside for some time. There is bleeding when the bougie is taken out; afterwards one feels relatively free for some days, and the...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(6 July 1882)
... Thursday My dear Theo, It is now the evening before I go back to hospital again, and I don't know what they are going to tell me there - perhaps I'll only be in for a short while, perhaps they'll bring out their probes again and I'll have to keep to my bed for days. That's why I am writing once again from home. It is so quiet and peaceful here in the studio right now - it is already late - but it is stormy and rainy outside - and that makes the calm inside even greater. How I wish you had been here with me during this quiet hour, brother - how much I should have shown you. The studio looks so much like the real thing, or so it seems to me, plain grey-brown wallpaper, scrubbed floorboards, muslin stretched on slats across the windows, everything bright. And, of course, the studies on the wall, an easel on either side and a large unpainted wooden work-table. The studio gives on to a sort of alcove, where the drawing boards, portfolios, boxes, sticks, etc....

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