Its Location A Good Nurse Fresh Air Light Warmth Cleanliness Quiet Food, Drink and Delicacies, and the Faithful Administration of Medicines, are of the utmost importance, and will each receive consideration. But, in accordance with the design of this work, the essentials only will be pointed out, the minor details, or little things, must be left to the judgment and ” common sense’ f the nurse or head of the household, to be met as best they can by the conveniences at hand or the means of obtaining them.
I. Location of’ the Sick-room: In summer, if it be possible, let the sick-room be on the north side of the house; in winter, upon the south to avoid the mid-day heat of summer and the cold blasts of winter. And also, if there is a room in the house having a fire-place, give it the preference, as it is considered the best means of aiding ventilation and providing artificial warmth when needed. And, if the windows do not admit of lowering the upper sash as well as to raise the lower ones, prepare them at once to allow this movement. Further on, you will see, under the heads of ” How to Produce the Temperature of Sick-rooms,” and ” Ventilation of Sick-rooms,” where the necessity of this is fully explained.
II. A Good Nurse.We have so often heard the expression: “If Mr. Blank had not had the best of nursing, he would never have got well.” Knowing that very much depends upon it, I Say, get the best nurse that your means can obtain; then see and know for yourselves that they carry out your, or the physician’s directions faithfully; for a physician’s prescriptions, nor your own desires or directions, are of any account unless they are faithfully fol-lowed: But, of course, much of the details must be left to the nurse, hence the necessity of getting one of sound judgment and considerable experience, if possible.
III. Fresh Air.-Although fresh air is essential in a sick-room, yet a draft must not be allowed to strike upon the patient; hence the necessity; in small rooms especially, of having the means of raising and lowering the sash, either for ventilation or to reduce the temperature. The temperature of the sick-room, in all ordinary cases of diseases, had better be kept as near 60° to 65° Fah. as possible, by opening or closing windows, or by raising the fire or lessening it either, or both, as the necessity of the case requires. And, let me say, the day has gone past when the great “bug-a-boo” against “night-air” has any weight-pure night-air, properly managed in the season of the year requiring it, is far better than the stifled or suffocating air of a close sick-room ; ventilate and reduce the temperature always as needed, and, of course, with proper care. Keep the air pure by carrying out of the room any and all vessels de chambre as soon as used, no matter how small the discharge may be. Never bring a slop-bucket into the sick-room, as the pouring out, rinsing, etc., is not only very contaminating to the air, but annoying to the patient.
IV. Light.If a room for the sick has been chosen which will allow proper ventilation and fresh air, as needed, through the windows, the light can easily be governed by the curtains; and it is only necessary to say: allow all the light that is agreeable to the patient; and, except in nervous or eye diseases, but little exclusion of light will be necessary, unless the room is on the south or western side of the house, which is not desirable, generally.
V. Warmth.Under this head it will be necessary to include the temperature of the patient’s surface as well as that of the room. The warmth or temperature of the room being about 60° to 65° Fah. if the limbs are cold, rub them with the dry naked hand, or wrap in hot, dry woolen cloths, or place hot bricks, or bottles or jugs, filled with hot water, or, what is still better, small bags of dry, hot sand, made for this purpose, whichever is most convenient or necessary to keep them comfortable. Comfort is to be sought, no matter how much labor and trouble it causes; for, unless a genial warmth can be maintained, health will seldom be regained. On the other hand, in fevers and inflammatory diseases, the surface must be cooled by means of sponging with cool or cold water with a little whiskey, or what is better, whiskey with bay-rum in itsponging sufficiently often to keep down extreme heat. Especially over-come all extremes of heat or cold.
VI. Cleanliness.It is claimed that “cleanliness is next to Godliness.” Whether this be ‘a fact or not, it is absolutely necessary, if it is desired to restore the patient to health in the least possible time, that not only the sick-room be kept clean, but the bed, bed-clothing and wearing apparel be kept neat and clean; and the patient, also, must have such frequent washings or spongings as will keep the pores of the skin open, that the general exhalations, perspiration sensible or insensible, as when sick an odor, also, may not only pass readily through the pores, but to provide, in disease, for the escape not only of a larger amount than usual but that of a more offensive and injurious character, if left to be re-absorbed from the surface or clothing.
VII. Quiet. If the patient is very sick, absolute quiet is very essential. If a person is once admitted to the sick-room who is found to annoy the patient by long talking, or, in fact in any manner, they must not only be asked to retire but never be admitted again. What is necessary to say, speak in a mild but perfectly distinct voice, and never allow whispering in a sick room for any purpose whatever. If there are any secrets to be kept from the patient, no hint of them, or whispering about them, should ever occur in his hearing; yet if it is believed the patient can not live very long, I would most certainly inform them of this belief ’tis cruel and unjust to withhold it. Any continuous noise, although slight in itself, soon becomes annoying to any nervous person, and there are but few sick persons, indeed, who do not soon become more or less nervous. Be firm, but kind, in all your relations with the sick. Give them to understand you know best; and what you know to be best to do you are going to do; and what you know they ought not to do, you are not going to allow them to do, but in all the kindness possible, and their acquiescence may soon be expected. Rustling silks, squeaking shoes and the rattling of dishes must not be allowed in a sick-room.
VIII. Food, Drink and Delicacies. While the patient’s condition will allow them to use plain and substantial food, and the usual drink, as tea and coffee, not too strong, it is best they should have them; but with the weak and debilitated the delicacies must take their place; and I desire to call especial attention to, and to give my sanction and advice, that if any special thing is craved, be it food or drink, I would most positively allow it, in moderation. We have all heard of the cravings, in olden times, of fever patients for cold water, and the cures brought about from its having been obtained stealthily against the commands of the physician; but there has recently come to my knowledge a case wherein the life of a typhoid fever patient was saved by drinking two quarts of hard cider, which he had craved and repeatedly called for, and when he got hold of the pitcher he would not let it go until it was empty. I do not call this, however, “in moderation,” but the patient was stouter in his desperation than the nurse and the physician who had allowed it to be brought, so no one could have been blamed even if it had killed rather than cured the patient. Do not understand this, however, even in desperate eases, to be a pattern drinkA small glass, and often, as long as the craving continues, would be the safer plan with any drink. But both food and drink should be given regularly in reasonable quantities. And to aid the nurse or family in this, the following recipes, or receipts, may be resorted to with confidence and general satisfaction. To purify sick-rooms, see ‘ Disinfectants.”