Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/2088

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1880
HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT

good health, nerves well under control, and be sure that nursing is a congenial occupation. What a friend or relative can do in the time of sickness for one she holds dear—the taxing of strength, the loss of sleep that she can make light of in such a case—all this is no proof that she is fitted for the post of a professional nurse. Her very passion for self-sacrifice is against this, for a nurse must do her work in a business-like way; she must not over-fatigue herself; should eat, drink, and sleep well, and take regular exercise; while it should not cause her (as it does so often to the amateur) actual suffering to see pain inflicted when it is necessary that an operation should be performed. She should be able, like the surgeon, to think of the future good instead of the present suffering. To some nervous, highly-organized persons this would be impossible, and they are therefore unsuited for nursing as a career, although they may be the most devoted and patient attendants upon those they love.

But there are, of course, many cases in which the simple domestic nursing that almost every woman could undertake is all that is necessary: infantile complaints; accidents in a thousand forms; slight attacks of disease unattended with great danger; and the preliminary stages of, and convalescence from, more serious troubles for all of which some knowledge of the general treatment of the sick is absolutely essential.

In the first stage of sickness, while doubt and a little perplexity hang over the household as to the nature of the sickness, there are some things about which no doubts exist: the patient's room must be kept in a perfectly pure state, and arrangements made for proper attendance; for the first canon of nursing, according to Florence Nightingale, its apostle, is to "keep the air the patient breathes as pure as the external air, without chilling him." This can be done without any preparation which might alarm the patient; with proper windows, open fireplaces, and a supply of fuel, the room may be as fresh as it is outside, and kept at a temperature suitable for the patient's state.

Arrangement of the sick-room.—Windows must be opened from above, and not from below, and draughts avoided; cool air admitted below the patient's head chills the lower strata and the floor. The careful nurse will keep the door shut when the window is open; she will also take care that the patient is not placed between the door and the open window, nor between the open fireplace and the window. If confined to bed, she will see that the bed is placed in a thoroughly ventilated part of the room, but out of the current of air which is produced by the momentary opening of doors, as well as out of the line of draught between the window and the open chimney, and that the temperature of the room is kept about 60°. (The "cool bedroom" temperature is 56°; the "warm bedroom," 64°.) Where it is necessary to admit air by the door, the windows should be closed;