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Source: Papers On Health
In slight cases, where the patient simply cannot sleep
for tossing about in bed, a cold towel placed along the spine, with a
dry one above, will usually relieve, especially if changed and cooled
several times as it grows warm. If heat be specially in the head, then
that may be cooled in the same manner till peace settles down in the
But we must go on to consider those cases of restlessness in which
there is no extra heat in either spine or brain. Tea may have been
taken in a rather strong infusion, or so late that its peculiar
influence may be the cause of the restlessness. It is necessary to
avoid this beverage if such restlessness is to be escaped; still it
will generally be found that in cases in which tea has caused serious
wakefulness and restless tossing, that there is more than the mere
effect of the herb, and that superabundant heat is present also; then
the application already pointed out will give relief.
Now take an instance in which it seems to be the mind that causes the
tossing rather than the body. Preachers after earnest preaching are in
many cases sleepless and restless too; so are almost all persons when
currents of exciting thoughts have been set agoing in their minds.
Then, no doubt, it is necessary to get at relief from the spiritual
side, by means of thought fitted to calm down the excitement that has
been raised. But it is never well to forget that in all such cases
there is a material as well as a spiritual aspect of the experience.
Many preachers take a sitz-bath before going to bed after a day of
service, and find that somehow when sitting in the cool water the
over-driven brain begins to slacken pace. If from any cause you are
restless and cannot lie still, even after the head and spine have been
cooled as we have described, it is well to take a sitz-bath in cold
water for a few minutes. Dry and wrap up well, and you will be quiet
after. Certain forms of coughing apparently cause the most serious
restlessness. A warm poultice should be placed between the shoulders,
and cold cloths pressed gently on the breast.
If there is extreme shrinking from everything in the least degree cold,
then you need to go a step back in your treatment. A sponging of the
most gentle kind, with CAYENNE LOTION (see) and water, all over the
body, given very carefully for three or four days, once a day, will put
away the shrinking to which we refer. This should be done with tepid
water at first, but as the skin freshens it will be found comfortable
to do it with cool water. In tender cases the poultice or hot bag will
need to be comfortably warm, and not hot. The cool cloth must not be
wintry cold, nor even at first summer cold. It is, however, necessary
to get at the hot and irritating surfaces that are causing the cough,
with more or less that is cooling. We may do this ever so gradually,
but we must do it, if we would succeed in giving rest from the cough.
In a strong person's case there is really no difficulty. It is an easy
matter to put on cloth after cloth till the irritated part is reached
and cooled. But when the patient is spent to all but a skeleton, and
has restlessness from frequent coughing, it is a very different matter.
Still to the very last the irritating heat may be kept down, and long
sleeps given, when otherwise it would be hard work indeed to get
through the last stages of illness. We write thus because we know it is
possible to give precious relief even when it is out of the question to
save life. It is possible to make even the last night on earth
comparatively a peaceful one, instead of its being so very restless as
it often is. This is to be done just by cooling the parts that
irritate, and these only. Generally, heat may be required rather than
cold, but at the part which is irritating and keeping up the coughing,
there must be cooling. The kind and capable nurse who can carry out
this cooling is beyond all price. Those only can understand this who
have been delivered from an all but incessant cough by means that
produce no reaction. It is also well to remember that we now and again
give life by means of rest when we had no idea of giving more than
temporary comfort. We have repeatedly had cases in which there seemed
no hope of doing anything further than giving relief, but that relief
has turned out to be the commencement of cure.
Next: Rheumatic Fever