What are Helen Keller's memories of her illness?

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While the illness struck Keller when she was very young, only 19 months old, she retained memories of her recovery. She also recalled snatches of memory from before her illness: she heard the robin's song and saw the shadows of leaves dancing on the floor.

Keller described her illness as one which "closed my eyes and ears." She remembered her mother trying to soothe her and also her eyesight growing weaker and weaker until soon she could not see at all. Her hearing also went, and she was soon encased in a world of silence and darkness. She writes that:

But, except for these fleetings memories, if, indeed, they be memories, it all seems very unreal, like a nightmare.

She says as well that she soon forgot the world of seeing and hearing, and her new world came to seem normal to her. She says she was in this lost world until Miss Sullivan came and set her "spirit free."

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In Chapter 1, Keller writes that her memories of her illness when she was 19 months old are "confused." The illness was called "acute congestion of the stomach and brain," and it resulted in making her blind and deaf. For a while, Helen's doctor thought she might not live. As rapidly as the fever came, though, it left her. Helen recalls being tended to by her mother, and the suffering she felt when she awoke from a half-sleep with dry and hot eyes. Her vision became dimmer and dimmer by the day. Other than these memories, her recollections seem to her to be like a "nightmare." She recalls eventually becoming acquainted with silence and darkness and not recalling when she had been able to see and hear. After her illness, Helen stayed with her mother and held her dress and learned about the objects around her by touching them. She also began to communicate with others using types of signs.

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