the fact that alcohol is a very effective cough suppressant. I can personally attest to the efficacy of a combination of whiskey, hot water, and lemon. Or we can dispense with the water and lemon altogether. :D Either way, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, and works very well to control a cough. So it not only helped him get out of bed, it helped get him through the day.
I would add that the disease itself might have affected his attitude. No antibiotics then. Fevers, chills, sweat, coughing, wheezing, coughing blood, pain, and bad breath would certainly shaped his reaction... more