Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/518

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quantity, and to the time and manner of giving it. The kind of food to be given is usually prescribed by the physician. If it is left to your own discretion, consult, as far as possible, the tastes of your patient, try to secure a judicious variety, and do not let him know until you bring it what he is going to have next. Milk is the only article of diet which contains in itself all the essential elements of nutrition. It is, therefore, the only thing upon which you may allow your patient entirely to subsist for any length of time. The most concentrated forms of food are to be preferred, such as convey the greatest amount of nourishment in the smallest bulk.

Whatever you give, be sure that it is the best of its kind—milk perfectly sweet, eggs above suspicion. Remember that you have more than the ordinary fastidiousness to contend with, and never offer a sick person anything which you have not, previously tasted yourself, and so feel absolutely sure of. This does not mean that you are to taste it in his presence. Bring only so much as can be taken at once. A large amount looks so discouraging that it destroys the appetite for even a little. Take away promptly what is not eaten. It is worse than useless to leave it in sight in the hope that it will soon be wanted. Give only a small quantity of food at a time, but give it at short and regular intervals. A capful every two hours is more easily managed by weak digestive organs than would be a large meal three times a day. When a table-spoonful can not be taken hourly without distress, you may give successfully a tea-spoonful every quarter of an hour. The idiosyncrasies of each individual case must be considered. Regularity is, however, always important. When you do not feed your patient again until morning, it is well to give him some light and easily assimilated nourishment the last thing at night.

If you have a helpless patient to feed, do it slowly, and avoid unmanageable quantities. It requires attention and care to do this well without making an external application of it. Fluid food is most easily given, and with the least exertion on the part of the patient, through a bent glass tube.

Serve the food in as attractive a form as possible. If it pleases the eye, it has a much better chance of proving acceptable to a delicate appetite. You can at least have the dishes spotlessly clean, and dry on the outside. Have hot things hot, and cold ones very cold. To successfully cater to the capricious appetite of an invalid requires the faculty of observation, judgment, and no little ingenuity; but it is worth the exercise of them all, for in most cases the question of nourishment is more important than that of medicine.

Give medicine or stimulant ordered always on time, and measure it accurately. Acquire the habit of always reading the label before you open a bottle. Pour the contents from the unlabeled side. Cork tightly after using, as many drugs lose their virtue upon exposure to the air. Use no remedies, however beneficial you may fancy they