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Ask A Nurse: From Home Remedies to Hospital Care
Edited by Geraldine Bednash, Ph.D., R.N. FAAN, Executive Director
American Association of Colleges of Nursing

When you call the doctor's office, who is the first person you talk to? When you walk into the clinic with a sick baby in your arms, who is it that takes temperatures, asks the questions and offers reassurance? When you call a helpline at three in the morning with frantic questions about how to get your seven-year-old's fever down, who is it that talks you down off the ceiling and then through the procedure? It's the nurse.

In so many medical situations, the nurse has the answers you need and an abundance of common sense to share. She or he can give advice on the practical matters of lowering fevers, dressing wounds and treating everything from nausea to the sniffles. That advice can come as a simple home remedy such as saltines by the bed for morning sickness, to the correct way to wrap a sprained ankle. It's the little things that the doctor's time doesn't allow but need to be handled all the same.

The new book "Ask A Nurse - From Home Remedies to Hospital Care" from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, is a practical, no-nonsense guide to the basics of handling everything from cuts and scrapes to what to do if someone is having a heart attack. The book is sectioned to include symptoms, home treatments, tips and warnings about potential hazards, as well as what tests to expect and demand both at the doctor's office and in hospital. The layout of the book is sensible and easy to reference. The information within is presented in a wholly professional but not overly-medical style which will be of great comfort to those having to access it at three in the morning while dealing with a feverish child or a minor home accident.

There is an excellent and very comprehensive section on Women's Health which includes complete and clear information regarding pregnancy, menopause and general health issues specifically encountered by women. The section on pregnancy describes what to do, what not to do and what to be aware of in each stage. An example of the practical and useful information is as follows: "If a woman doubts whether she's experiencing premature rupture of membranes or leakage of urine, she should empty her bladder, put on a pad or dry panties, then walk around for about half an hour. Afterward, check to see if the pad or panties are wet. If wet, the woman should contact her practitioner immediately and be checked for leaking amniotic fluid." - Barbara Morrison, Ph.D(c), RN, FNP, CNM, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois. (pg. 242) This kind of sensible and calming advice could prevent a panicked flight to L&D.

The children's health section is a wonderfully complete offering which encompasses many of the common childhood conditions and some that are less common but still require a fair amount of home care and treatment. From something as simple as taking an accurate temperature and clearing up diaper rash, to recognizing the signs of a potentially life-threatening eating disorder in a teenage girl, this section offers practical and safe home remedies along with advice on when to call the doctor and seek professional assistance. "After receiving vaccines, some children will have sore muscles and some may even have a mild fever. Both may be treated with acetaminophen, and the sore muscle may also be helped with a cold compress placed over the injection site. If fever exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit or your child becomes inconsolable, call your provider." Elizabeth Farren, Ph.D, RN, FNP, Baylor University, School of Nursing. (pg. 269)

The book also offers a generous index of health organizations, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of groups all over the US which are available to help when health matters arise. This kind of information can be invaluable to someone facing a health crisis and at a loss as to where to start in getting help and resources. Examples of organizations in the index are the La Leche League, the American Red Cross and the American Association of Pediatrics.

The last section in the book is particularly touching yet down to earth in it's tone and content. It deals with terminal illness and death, both for the person dying and the family who care for them. There is information regarding living wills, do not resuscitate orders and making sure your wishes as a patient are carried out by those you trust when you are no longer able to self-determine. There are descriptions of terminology which may be used regarding artificial feeding, breathing and a section dealing with the rights of patients who are in terminal care. For anyone facing such an ordeal it is comforting to have this information so well laid out and complete. "End-of-life care encompasses not only disease-specific treatment and the life-sustaining measures discussed earlier but also pain relief, counseling, and emotional support." (pg. 370)

I would highly recommend adding this useful and practical book to any home library. It offers comprehensive answers to common and not so simple questions, concerns and issues which arise for many of us every day. The book is easy to reference, reassuring in it's practicality and useful in offering suggestions as to what questions to ask in the doctor's office and what to expect when in hospital. In an age when doctor's visits are expensive and sometimes hard to come by, this book can be very useful in helping to decide when professional help is really required and how to handle things correctly and safely if it is not.

Book review by Nancy Gazzola

To Purchase:
   • Ask A Nurse at Amazon U.S.
   • Ask A Nurse at Amazon UK
   • Ask A Nurse at Amazon Canada

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