Nutrition - Home Nursing
( Originally Published 1954 )
This volume on Nutrition for Health would be incomplete without a few remarks on home nursing.
The cultural achievements of modern men and women will be enhanced when personal hygiene and diet are based on scientific knowledge. Even today educated people know hardly anything about the correct physical care of the body. The result is that health break-downs are rife among intellectuals in our day.
Anyone who is slightly indisposed, even if with only the mildest kind of ailment such as an ordinary cold, would do right to retire from all social and business activities. Ones own private bedroom is the best place to recuperate from ill health in the shortest possible time. No illness, mild or severe, can be successfully treated or cured while the sufferer is up and about and forces his body to bear the punishment of aches and pains.
This important principle applies to the care of adults as well as children. The slightest indisposition should be treated by rest cure to bed at home. This means applying the principle that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
Part of good home nursing is to keep visitors out. Sometimes it is a strain on the speech mechanism of an indisposed person to "entertain" healthy guests. Kind friends and relatives mean well when they visit invalids and endeavor to cheer them up with many words. The sick are often exhausted after a siege of "company," either at home or in the hospital. When the sick are visited, few words should be spoken and few minutes spent in the sickroom. A gift to cheer up the sick, such as flowers or fresh raw fruit, may be acceptable but it is not necessary.
Properly managed care for an invalid should not include a pile of medicine bottles and cartons of pills. A patient should not look the way so many patients often do—exhausted, groggy from excessive narcosis. Today it is unfortunately routine practice, by the average or by the best physicians and surgeons, to prescribe some drug to sedate invalids. This is one of the tragic mistakes that the medical profession is making in its work. A sick person can fee. quite comfortable and relaxed, and can sleep and rest well, without medicine for sleep and rest- He needs a well-ventilated room, a comfortable and clean bed, an electric pad for cold limbs or to prevent chilling. Stiffnecks and tired backs also benefit by constant heat from an electric pad.
That simple gadget, an electric pad, is a very valuable "medicine" for the cure of disease and also for its prevention. It is as important as correct food. How many doctors stress that fact?
In over 20 years of practice, I have often been called to the bed-side of chronically sick people with challenging problems. Among the symptoms of serious chronic ill health are cold feet and cold hands. The blood circulation of the sick is impaired to the extent that the terminal structures, the hands and feet, often suffer from an inadeqnate blood supply, because diseased internal organs are being excessively supplied with blood. This is known to be a fact in medicine. Yet in the treatment of the individual this knowledge is seldom applied.
I fee. very strongly on this point, because in the majority of instances the profession prefers to remain in the old ruts, even if the patient suffers the symptoms of poor blood and lymph circulation. Cold feet can be very uncomfortable and even painful to one who is lying in bed with an acute or chronic ailment. I have stressed the point about the electric pad because there is full justification for this statement. I consider that normalizing the blood circulation by means of artificial heat is as important as getting the correct food. It is certainly part of good home nursing and good hospital nursing.
An invalid suffering from a mild or severe illness must get one or two daily sponge baths at the bedside. Tub baths tax the strength of the sick because they deplete bodily energy. The sick should be allowed to rest and relax when they are too weak to get up and ambulate into a bathroom. The latest practice by physicians and surgeons is to permit patients to ambulate very quickly after surgery. This is wrong in my opinion. Sponge baths conserve the nerve energy of the patient. This is a type of passive treatment that does the body a great deal of good. A sick person who lacks the energy to take a tub bath should be given a sponge bath, or even a rubdown with a dry or moist towel.
An invalid woman must not be overdressed and "made up" with cosmetics. Rather, the opportunity should be seized to give the skin maximum opportunity to become toned up through normal bathing and by moist packs, hot or cold, as the indications may be.
In case of fever caused by any kind of acute ailment, a cool moist pack on the forehead and top of the head may prevent serious complications. It may also help to accelerate the body's therapeutic ability to restore itself to normal.
Hot packs are, as a rule, excellent applications for the upper and lower spine, or for the entire spine from the occiput to the coccyx. In the spinal column are lodged the vegetative nerve ganglia as well as the spinal cord. In case of any kind of health impairment, these structures are tensed by the impairment of the blood circulation. Hot moist packs are very helpful in relaxing these structures and therefore accelerating the natural defensive forces of the body.
These points are stressed because they are in line with the interpretation of disease symptom-complexes made in accordance with the Osteopathic Concept. For this reason, frequent or daily osteopathic treatments at the bedside is part of good treatment for the sick.
Food intake during ill health must depend on how the patient feels. If there is no desire for any food or drink, no food (not even liquids) should be forced—either by mouth or by injection into the blood stream. The sick body requires rest from food; for this reason, appetite is reduced or lost for a time. It is irrational to force food or drink on a person with any kind of ailment. Fasting, or the with-holding of food, is a basic method of treating the sick, and it must be applied in order to prepare the body economy for food when it is ready for it. When the crisis of an acute illness passes, when fever and other symptoms subside, appetite returns. Then the right food proves to be good medicine. It is always safe to feed a convalescing individual on rich freshly made raw vegetable juices and raw fruit juices before a basic maintenance diet is in order.
Many people who get sick today are pumped full of one of the "wonder drugs," and every so often new "wonder drugs" are announced to replace the old ones. Doctors are still hazy about their knowledge of many things. Such was the charge made by the great doctor Osler against his profession: "We prescribe drugs, the actions of which we are not quite sure of, for diseases we do not understand...."
It is safe and sound to practice along the lines of applying the New Knowledge of Nutrition to the feeding of the sick in order to restore them to good health.