This section is from the book "Feeling Better? Amusements and Occupations for Convalescents", by Cornelia R. Trowbridge. Also available from Amazon: Feeling Better.
IN this chapter are mentioned articles other than bed-tables which make for comfort in bed and which anyone handy with tools can construct. You will not want to bother your head with details. If any of the articles appeals to you, mark the passage and turn it over to someone else to study out.
Cut off the two long pieces on each side of a steamer chair just beyond the bolts that hold them in place, move one of the rungs back to the point where they are joined and shorten the canvas stretched between the rungs. If the end of the canvas is left loose, so that the invalid can sit on it, this will help to keep the back rest in place. The ends of the side pieces should be rounded off smoothly. See Figure 20. This will make an adjustable support for one sitting up in bed.
A rigid but reversible back rest can be made with two triangles of inch square wood or stout slats held firmly by crosspieces. Over one side of this frame a strip of canvas can be stretched. (Figure 21) If the triangles are right triangles with sides of unequal length and the canvas is put all the way around them, you have a back rest as convenient as a three sided pillow.
Knock out the bottom, one long side and one end of a wooden box, leaving two sides of a right triangle. Then saw off one side of the angle so that the knees will not be raised too high by it. (Figure 22) A thin soft pad or a folded blanket should be placed over the knee-rest. Such a support for the knees is firmer than pillows and is cooler in warm weather.
Knock out the bottom and one side of a box, leaving one long side and two ends. (Figure 23) Or cut down two barrel hoops and hold them firm by slats between them or by tying them at right angles to each other. (Figure 24) Place over the knees or wherever the weight of the bedclothes is to be lifted. What part of the body it is to cover will decide the dimensions of such a support. Crossed barrel hoops can hold in place an electric light for light treatments.
Fasten two pieces of thin wood 8" x 12" at right angles to each other. A strip two inches wide nailed to the lower edge of one will keep the book in place. (Figure 25) Two pieces of narrow elastic ribbon tacked diagonally across the lower corners can be added, to slip over the pages and hold the book open.
If you want only a little air from a window, saw off a board six or more inches wide the exact length to fit under the sash and put it in place when the window is raised. This will admit air between the upper and lower sashes. If more air is needed, holes can be made in the board or several thicknesses of cheesecloth can be tacked on a light frame that will fit under the raised sash.
A small, light clothes-horse for drying clothes can be covered with material heavy enough to shut off a draft of air or unpleasantly bright light.
To prevent rattling of windows, cut out small wedges of wood or break a clothes-pin in two and insert between the sash and frame. A larger wedge of wood under a door will hold it open.
Hang a short, dark curtain on rings from a rope stretched across the room about the middle of the bed or suspend it from the ceiling to be let down by pulleys. It is possible also to hang a curtain from a swinging arm fastened to the bedpost. The curtain should in any arrangement hang low enough to shut off glaring light but without cutting off a view of the room and it should be possible for a patient to regulate it at his own convenience.
For a homemade wheel chair, a small, strong platform on wheels or castors, like the "trolleys" used for moving furniture, can be built, large enough to hold a comfortable armchair. There should be a low rail or rim around the edge of the platform to keep the chair from slipping off and a shelf for the feet to rest on. It may be advisable to tie the chair in place with a rope over its rungs and under the platform.
Improvised Equipment in the Home Care of the Sick, Lyla Olsen. W. B. Saunders, New York. 1933. Ideas from many sources collected by a superintendent of nurses at Rochester, Minnesota.
Outwitting Our Nerves, Josephine A. Jackson. D. Appleton-Century Company, New York. 1932. Sound advice by a physician of long experience. Power Through Repose, Annie Payson Call. Little, Brown and Company, Boston. 1900. Wise counsel that has been helpful to many persons. The Freedom of Life, Annie Payson Call. Little, Brown and Company, Boston. 1905. A chapter on how to sleep restfully. What Men Live By, Richard C. Cabot. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 1914. Four themes: Work, Play, Love, Worship. The Conquest of Fear, Basil King. Doubleday, Doran and Company, New York. 1914. Life Begins at Forty, Walter B. Pitman. McGraw-Hill Company, New York. 1932. A discussion of adult re-orientation in the modern world. Time to Live, Gove Hambidge. McGraw-Hill Company, New York. 1933.
The author's adventures in the use of leisure and his conclusions therefrom.
Singing in the Rain, Anne S. Monroe. Doubleday, Doran and
Company, New York. 1926. Adventures in Solitude, David Grayson. Doubleday, Doran and
Company, New York. 1932.
"The adventures of a sick man in exploring the resources of his own spirit."
The Arts of Leisure, Marjorie Barstow Greenbie. McGraw-Hill Company, New York. 1935. Essays written for Leisure under the nom de plume of Robert Carrick.
LIVES AND LETTERS OF COURAGEOUS INVALIDS
Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. 1899.
An Autobiography, Edward Livingstone Trudeau. Doubleday,
Doran and Company, New York. 1916. Letters of Katherme Mansfield. Constable and Company, London.
The Journal of Gamaliel Bradford. Edited by VanWyck Brooks.
Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 1933. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Louise Schultz Boas. Longmans,
Green and Co., New York. 1930. Little Gray Songs of St. Joseph's, Grace Fellow Norton. Houghton
Mifflin Company, Boston. 1912.
Speaking of Operations, Irvin S. Cobb. Doubleday, Doran and
Company, New York. 1915. A hospital classic. Fun in Bed, Frank Scully. Simon and Schuster, New York. 1932. More Fun in Bed, Frank Scully. Simon and Schuster, New York.
"Games and Gags," edited by a dauntless invalid.
Ether and Me or Just Relax, Will Rogers. G. P. Putnam's Sons,
New York. 1919. It Must Be Your Tonsils, Kenneth Roberts. Doubleday, Doran and
Company, New York. 1936.
Amateur Nurse, Mary Wright Wheeler. The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis, Indiana. 1933.
Home Hygiene and the Care of the Sick. American Red Cross Headquarters, Washington, D. C. 1933.
Practical Dietetics, Alida Frances Pattee. Published by the author, Mount Vernon, New York. 1931. Best book for home use. Recipes for cooking for invalids in small quantities.
Circulating libraries might supply some of them. Star those you want to own.
For Generous Family and Friends
Check the items you would like. Creature Comforts: Bed-table
Back-rest (or Beach-rest) Folding screen Triangular pillow
Small very soft pillows, not more than 15 inches square Air cushion Bed jacket
Warm, light blanket for an extra covering Bathrobe
Bedroom slippers that you can put on without stooping over Lamp for bedside table, well shaded, high enough to light a book, low enough not shine into your eyes Reading light to fasten on the head of the bed Book light to fasten on a book-rest or the book itself Screen for a troublesome wall light Electric torch
Softly ticking clock with an illuminated face Caraffe or water pitcher and glass, or a thermos bottle Small bell (or Chinese gong)
Toilet accessories for the drawer of the bedside table
Large tray for bringing up meals
Covered bowl for soups, etc.
Hot water plate for other food
Small table on castors to be rolled to the bedside
Eye shade Ice bag
Hot water bag and flannel cover Bed socks
Snap clothespins or lingerie clasps on the ends of a ribbon to hold napkin in place Cover for a bed-table, oilcloth or linen Means of Diversion
Portable typewriter (to own or rent) Extension telephone
Small radio set which you can control yourself, to stand on lower shelf of bedside table Book rest
Small cards for solitaire (Patience cards)
Large desk blotter case for jigsaw puzzles and card games
Bowl of gold fish, aquatic plants, a snail for a scavenger and a box of fish food Fountain pen Pencils Eraser
Pencil sharpener (small one to be held in the hand) Letter paper
Postal cards and reply postals
A subscription to Leisure, The Magazine of a Thousand Diversions, published at 683 Atlantic Avenue, Boston.
The Welby Gift Shop, $7 East 56th Street, New York, specializes in gifts for invalids.