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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/2094

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be added, but the sight of much food will sometimes prevent a patient taking any.

The diet suitable for patients will depend, in some degree, on their natural likes and dislikes (which the nurse should of course ascertain), and still more on the nature of the disease. Beef-tea is useful and relishing, but possesses little actual nourishment; when evaporated, it presents a teaspoonful of solid meat to a pint of water. Eggs are not equivalent to the same weight of meat. Arrowroot is less nourishing than flour. Butter is the lightest and most digestive kind of fat. Cream, in some diseases, cannot be replaced. Observation is, however, the nurse's best guide, and the patient's appetite the rule. Half a pint of milk is equal to a quarter of a pound of meat. Tea and coffee are both too much excluded from the sick-room.

Food must not be kept in the sick-room, since it is deteriorated by the air there; the continual presence of food, besides, is highly objectionable to a patient, being likely to destroy what little appetite he has. In no cases should food removed from the sick-room be consumed by other members of the family. It should be thrown away at once or burnt. A nurse's dress should be of some washing material that neither rustles nor crackles; her shoes should be soft ones that do not creak; her sleeves should be loose enough to roll back, and she should have a plentiful supply of large white aprons. A professional nurse would wear a neat white cap. Suffering people, are apt to be impressed by trifles, such as a black dress having a gloomy look, while a bright one has a cheering effect, and every one prefers to see a pretty pink cotton gown, for example, in a sick-room, than a sombre, black-looking one. The print is not only pleasanter to the eye; it has the additional advantage of not being so liable to convey infection as a stuff gown. Doctor's orders are never disregarded by a nurse worthy of the name. Should she by watching the case think any other treatment or diet would be beneficial to the patient, she should not act upon her own opinion, but state it to the doctor. She should always report to him any change she observes in the patient, which she should be watchful to detect. Such hearty co-operation is of incalculable help to a medical man.

Convalescence.—In this stage the patient is often more difficult to manage than when seriously ill; he is more wayward and fanciful, more easily put out, and more easily impressed by his surroundings. The room should be kept as bright and pretty as possible; he should be tempted to eat what is best for him, and firmly refused whatever might be detrimental. Anything that can be done to while away the long hours of weakness should be tried, whether it be reading aloud, or by the nurse engaging herself with some occupation that it would be pleasant for the invalid to watch.