Select a wide and rather low bedstead, for ease in getting in and out; a wire bed-bottom ; next best to it, one on good springs, with a thick but soft mattress. No curtains should be placed around the bed, since they check the free and abundant supply of air to the patient.
Pillows should be of full size, and as soft as possible. Extra little pillows are often useful, to put in spaces, in propping a patient up, to relieve some particular pressure. A sheet, as a rule, not a blanket, should be next to the body. The blanket first is only proper when the patient is very hard to keep warm, or when one quite ill is lifted into and out of a bath. A down quilt is the nicest top-piece; its lightness is a great advantage.. Some patients can hardly bear the pressure of the bedclothes. Over an inflamed or injured limb, it is often necessary to put a support to keep them off. This may be made by breaking a barrel-hoop in two, and placing the pieces across each other (fastened at the middle for steadiness) under the clothes.
Changing the bedclothes requires care, but it ought to be done often. When there is likely to be anything to soil the bed, a large piece of rubber-cloth or oil-cloth should be put upon the mattress, beneath the under sheet. In cases of labor, a second rubber-cloth or oil-cloth had'better be placed upon the lower sheet, and another sheet over it, so that the latter and the upper rubber-cloth may" be removed, leaving the bed still protected.
Sheets, especially, ought to be changed often. When practicable, once in twenty-four hours will be desirable in a severe illness. To make the change, warm a sheet thoroughly (being sure first that it is entirely dry; a d a m p sheet may be deadly), and fold it lengthwise. Then fold, also lengthwise, one side of the under-sheet on the bed, up against the patient's side. Push the fresh-warmed, sheet along near him, and have some one to lift, first his head and shoulders, and afterwards his legs and feet. Then, while he is lifted, press the soiled sheet from under and beyond him, and roll out the fresh one (half of it) to take its place. It will then be easy to draw it smooth. To change the upper sheet, the fresh one, being first warmed, may be rolled either in its width or in its length, and passed under the sheet already over the patient's body, into its place, without disturbing him at all. It requires two persons, one on each side of the bed, to do this well.
Bedsores are very troublesome occasional results of continued pressure, while one is lying long in bed; they are especially apt to occur in very thin and weak persons. Most of all they are liable to happen when, from an injury or serious disease of some part, the patient cannot change his position from time to time. This is the case with fractures of the thigh or leg. In such instances the utmost care must be taken to preserve the soundness of the skin where it is most pressed upon. It must be examined every day, and bathed gently with whiskey or soap liniment. When redness and tenderness of the skin begin to appear, a protection to it must be supplied, by covering the part with a piece of soft, thick buckskin, upon which soap-plaster has been smoothly spread ; or, if that is not at hand, two layers of adhesive plaster, very smoothly adjusted to the surface, will do for the purpose. Small pillows, or air- or water-cushions, in rings or other shapes, are often employed to take the pressure off of tender parts. They may sometimes do good ; but, in surgical practice, I have been repeatedly disappointed with them, especially with air- and water-cushions or pillows. When bedsores actually occur, is is necessary to relieve the sores from pressure; and, besides, they must be treated like open wounds or ulcers.
AIR- OR WATER CUSHIONS.