More Health Tips From the White House Cook Book

1 Sep 2006

Since so many of you enjoyed the White House Cook Book recipes, I’m posting some of my favorite “health suggestions” from the book. Some of these “cures” are humdingers.

Diphtheria: A gargle of sulphur and water has been used with much success in cases of diphtheria. Let the patient swallow a little of the mixture. Or, when you discover that your throat is a little sore, bind a strip of flannel around the throat, wet in camphor, and gargle salt and vinegar occasionally.

Colds and Hoarseness:

Borax has proved a most effective remedy in certain forms of colds. In sudden hoarseness or loss of voice in public speakers or singers, from colds, relief for an hour or so may be obtained by slowly dissolving, and partially swallowing a lump of borax the size of a garden pea, or about three or four grains held in the mouth for ten or fifteen minutes before speaking or singing. This produces a profuse secretion of saliva or “watering” of the mouth and throat, just as wetting brings back the missing notes to a flute when it is too dry.

If you’re not in the mood for Borax, here’s another suggestion:

An old time and good way to relieve a cold is to go to bed for and stay there, drinking nothing, not even water, for twenty-four hours, and eating as little as possible. Or go to bed, put your feet in hot mustard and water, put a bran or oatmeal poultice on the chest, take ten grains of Dover’s powder, and an hour afterwards a pint of hot gruel; in the morning rub the body all over with a coarse towel, and take a dose of aperient medicine.

Don’t forget to stock your medicine cabinet with oatmeal.

Relief From Asthma: (I swear I’m not making this up).

Sufferers from asthma should get a muskrat skin and wear it over their lungs with the fur side next to the body. It will bring certain relief. Or, soak blotting paper in saltpetre water, then dry, burning at night in the patient’s bedroom.

How do you get a muskrat to stay in your medicine cabinet and not come out until you need it?

The White House Cook Book

31 Aug 2006

This belonged to my great-grandmother, my great-aunt, my grandmother, and then it was passed down to me. The White House Cook Book, A Comprehensive Cyclopedia of Information For the Home, was first published in 1887. This edition was published in 1912.

Before there were HMOs, PPOs, and primary care physicians, there was the White House Cook Book, A Comprehensive Cyclopedia of Information For the Home.

Housewives used this cookbook, as well as others published at the turn of the century, as a health care resource book. My favorite chapter in the White House Cook Book is “For the Sick.” In the beginning of this chapter, the authors write, “Dishes for invalids should be served in the daintiest and most attractive way; never send more than a supply for one meal; the same dish too frequently set before an invalid often causes distaste, when perhaps a change would tempt the appetite.” Here are some of my favorite recipes from that chapter. Nurses, take notes. You’ll be tested over this material the next time someone you know gets the vapors.

Beef Tea:

One Pound of lean beef, cut into small pieces. Put into a glass-canning jar, without a drop of water, cover tightly and set in a pot of cold water. Heat gradually to a boil and continue this steadily for three or four hours, until the meat is like white rags and the juice is drawn out. Season with salt to taste and, when cold, skim.

Arrowroot Milk Porridge:

One large cupful of fresh milk, new if you can get it, one cupful of boiling water, one teaspoonful of arrowroot, wet to a paste with cold water, two teaspoonfuls of white sugar, a pinch of salt. Put the sugar into the milk, the salt into the boiling water, which should be poured into a farina kettle. Add the wet arrowroot and boil, stirring constantly until it is clear; put in the milk and cook ten minutes, stirring often. Give while warm, adding hot milk should it be thicker than gruel.

Doesn’t this sound good. But wait, there’s more!

Toast Water, or Crust Coffee:

Take stale pieces of crust of bread, the end pieces of the loaf, toast them a nice, dark brown, care to be taken that they do not burn in the least, as that affects the flavor. Put the browned crusts into a large milk pitcher, and pour enough boiling water over to cover them; cover the pitcher closely, and let steep until cold. Strain, and sweeten to taste; put a piece of ice in each glass. This is also good, drank warm with cream and sugar, similar to coffee.

We all may be using these home remedies if drug cost keep going up, and HMO’s continue to block patients from getting the care they need. Anyone hungry for a nice hot bowl of gruel?

My Boy Freud

29 Aug 2006

Print by Andy Warhol

John Mark Karr, the man claiming to be the murderer of JonBenet Ramsey, has been the topic of conversation on our unit for the last couple of weeks. Everyone has something to say, and as I listen to the news, I wonder what Sigmund Freud would think about this guy. My boy Freud, the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology, is best known for his studies of sexual desire, repression, and the unconscious mind. If Freud were alive today, I imagine he would be discussing the case a guest commentator for Fox News. Karr is the embodiment of the Id, the part of the psyche that contains primitive desired such as hunger, rage, and sex. And as we all know, shows about primitive desires boost television ratings.

Make Mine a Rum and Coke

28 Aug 2006

After a long weekend at work, I like to kick back and relax. When I was young, kicking back included a few Rum and Cokes. Look at those dinky little glasses. No thank you, I prefer my Coke in a Seven Eleven Super Big Gulp cup. These days when I want to relax, I drink my Coke without the rum, and kick back in front of my computer. I love the simple life. Blogging goes better with Coke!

I Want My Silver Wings

28 Aug 2006

Did you know that the first flight attendances were nurses? Yep, it’s true, the women in these pictures are nurses. Nurses use to pour coffee from sterling silver coffeepots and serve sandwiches, as airline customers sat back and gazed at the clouds drifting by. We were the queens of good customer service. The American public viewed nurses as sweet and kind, as well as great little handmaidens.

Fast forward to 2006. My boss pulls me into her office to tell me that a family member of one of my patients registered a complaint against me. The individual was upset because I told them that if they didn’t stop threatening to meet me in the parking lot after my shift to beat me up, I was going to call the police. The incident revolved around my refusal to disclose confidential psychiatric information to this individual. My boss told me that my comments were an example of “poor customer service,” and I needed to be more like an “airline stewardess.” I was politely asked not to “incite” my patients or their family members anymore and to please remember that customer service is my first priority. I sat in boss’s office in shock and disbelief, and then I started laughing. I thanked my boss for her feedback, told her I thought she was nuts, and left her office.

If bedside nurses are airline stewardesses, someone forgot to give us our silver wings. I’m all for customer service, but the day I’m required to take a beating in the parking lot for sake of good customer service is the day I tear up my nursing license and get a job at Borders Books.

I’m a nurse, not punching bag.

Sleeping Like a Baby

27 Aug 2006

I just got home after completing another 16-hour shift. I’m so tired, but even though I’m drifting off in front of my computer screen, I’m compelled to visit my favor websites and get in my daily dose of blogging. Could I be addicted to the Internet?

This kid has the right idea about getting a good night’s sleep, it’s all about finding the perfect place to crash. Look at the cute baby, all sweet and innocent. Just wait until the kid hits adolescence. Poor mommy and daddy will be wondering what happened to their sweet child.

Nite nite.

Hospital Nocturne

25 Aug 2006

Today’s book report is about “Hospital Nocturne” by Alice Eleanor Lambert. This oldie but goodie was first published in 1932, and is described by the author as an enchanting behind-the-scenes account of the excitement and drama of the little world within a hospital.

Love and Tragedy in a Hospital…..

“Strange, isn’t it?” Carol Maitland, grave, sweet-faced student nurse, says slowly. “I just love every bit of it. The patients, the babies, the excitement of the surgeries—fighting with interns and having sort of half-flirtations with the doctors—there’s something going on in this place every minute.”

To lovely, gracious Carol, who had been robbed suddenly of her parents, the big hospital has become home, safety, and friends. Sharing gay adventures with her beautiful roommate, Enid Ashland, and the madcap, Sheila Lane; helping genial old Father Time, the institution’s favorite patient, sneak they young nurses in through his open window after-hours; bullying rich young Rodney Herrick into forgetting that he came to the hospital to die; going out on a blind date with Sheila and meeting Jean, a strangely exciting naval officer—all that is part of the fascinating life of the young student nurse.

Then suddenly everything begins to go wrong. Jean goes away and doesn’t come back, and Carol begins to doubt her own code of ethics. Shelia forgets her Heck and falls in love with Dr. Lait, who is too grand ever to marry a nurse. Enid begins drifting toward the rocks and Carol feels powerless to help her. The Canfield case comes in and the whole hospital boils with the futility of the affair. And there is the heart-breaking night when Carol and Rodney hear Enid’s agonized cry and find her wandering half-crazed about the garden.

Has anyone seen this hospital before? Here’s a map. Wherever it is, I’m staying away. There’s too much drama going on in that place.

I don’t remember any of this stuff happening when I went to nursing school. Granted, I went to school many years ago, but my memory isn’t totally gone. I remember staying up long hours with my nose in nursing books, and not going out because I was too busy keeping up with my schoolwork. I remember living in a three story nursing dormitory. It was old and rundown, and there was no air conditioning during the hot summer and little heat during the winter. We had three housemothers, one for each shift that made sure we returned to the dorm safe and sound. They were tough customers that made sure we didn’t sneak men into the dormitory. I remember the girls who lived with me. We were like family. There was one payphone on each floor, and we would ease drop on each other’s phone calls. We didn’t flirt with doctors and we got along with interns. We were all kind of crazy, but I don’t remember any of my friends wandering half-crazed about the garden.

What do you remember about being a nursing student?

A Rotten Apple

24 Aug 2006

The honeymoon is over! I love my computer, but I very unhappy with Apple customer service. In 2004, shortly after I bought my computer, my screen saver went haywire, so I took my computer back to the store to have it checked out. It takes me about an hour and a half to drive to the Apple Store. They said the computer was fine, and after pushing a few buttons, they sent me home. A few weeks later, my computer overheated. I went back to the Apple store, and again, everything “checked out,” and I was sent back home. The appearance of the screen saver never improved, but it was something I could live with. Fast forward to yesterday when my computer’s DVD player died. The Genius Bar guy said I need a new video card installed, which will cost $325. When I told the Genius Bar guy about my past problems, he said those problems were due to a faulty video card. “Why didn’t someone tell me that when the computer was under warranty?,” I asked. He couldn’t answer the question, but did admonish me for not buying an extended warranty on the computer. Of course, when he checked the store’s computer, he couldn’t find any record of me talking to anyone in the store, so I’m screwed. Needless to say, I told the young man that I wasn’t spending any more money at their store, and took my computer home. I’m writing the iPod Father a letter about what happened, and I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse. I hope Apple decides to do the right thing, and fixes my computer free of charge.

The Good, the Bad, and My Daughter’s New Boyfriend

23 Aug 2006

First the good news; Pictures! I want to thank Chris from “Trading Faces” for teaching me about Foxfire. After following the directions he e-mailed me,my blogger world became a happier place.

Now the bad news, my life support system (my Mac G4 laptop) is sick and I’m taking it in tomorrow for a check up. Every time I play a DVD, green, square, pixels dance across the screen, making it impossible to see what’s playing. I called the Apple Store and talked to a clerk, and he told me to make an appointment at the Genius Bar. I’m nervous about leaving my computer for repairs, but thank God we’re a two Mac family.

I hereby award my daughter’s new boyfriend the Picky Mom’s Seal of Approval. A couple of nights ago while on their first date, they returned to my daughter’s apartment to find her cat dying on the kitchen floor. My daughter told me she started screaming and crying hysterically. My daughter’s new boyfriend sat up with her all night at the vet emergency room, and took her back home after her cat died. My daughter told me she thought her new boyfriend would never call her again. Wrong! He called her, and sent her flowers. She asked me what I thought of him. I think he’s a keeper.

The Wrath of the Blog-Gods

22 Aug 2006

I know why we can’t post pictures on, and it is such a simple reason, I don’t know why no one has thought of this before. Google did something to infuriate the blog-gods. I suspect Google stole information from the blog-gods, and that they used the information to setup’s new beta format.

Gods can be a wrathful bunch. I remember hearing about a guy named Prometheus. He is credited for stealing fire from the gods and giving it to mortals for our use. When the gods found out about Prometheus’s shenanigans, they chained him to Mount Caucasus, and let an eagle picked at his liver everyday. The punishment was supposed to last 30,000 years, but Prometheus worked out a plea bargain with Zeus, and was released on his own recognizance.

Maybe Google can strike a deal with the blog-gods. Does anyone know where we can find a sacrificial virgin?

Nurse Ratched

There has been a lot of chatter in the blogosphere about medical bloggers and HIPAA regulations so let me make this very clear: I write composite stories about many different people that I've cared for over the years.

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Amanda Trujillo, MSN, RN, DNSc-NP(s) Media & Blogger Coverage