My Mom, a long suffering nurse from the Greatest Generation did not appreciate my skills as a junior contortionist. Just when I had finished twisting myself up like a pretzel, she would holler, "Stop that tomfoolery before I take you to the hospital and string you up in a Le Mesurier's Hammock. Do you want curvature of the spine?" Her admonishment did little to curtail my extremity entanglement and circumvolition activities, but it did whet my curiousity about that hammock thing threat. "How bad can that be?" Le Mesurier's Hammock conjured up restful, peaceful experience. My next order of business was an investigation into the how and whys of the hammock threat. This could prove interesting.
Like me, my Mom retained her old nursing school textbooks and class notes which were carefully
During my quest for hammock enlightenment I happened upon a chapter about bedsores. This little tidbit of medical horror instilled a sleep disorder that persisted well into adolescence. In a mood of wonderment and sheer terror my eyes popped at the images of patients with oozing gaping wounds on their lateral hips and shoulders sustained by simply lying in bed. How could this be? I made a note to myself to awaken q2 hours to check myself for these loathsome lesions. A peaceful night's sleep was gone forever because visions of bedsores danced in my head. Some things never change, now it's a pain in the prostate that awakens me q2 hours for that lonely journey to the can.
Finally a chapter in the orthopedic section about a condition known as spinal scoliosis revealed the LeMesurier's Hammock treatment. This was another one of those medical
When one views the history of treatment of pathological spinal curvature it is apparent that crude and brutal measures rule the roost. Lemesurier's Hammock involved placing the patient in an orthopedic bed that had risers on each corner connected via an overhead frame matching the dimensions of the bed. These steel framed monstrosities were frightening in their own right but add traction pulleys and assorted doodads for limb fixation and they resembled medieval racks that could dish out unthinkable tortures. YIKES and double YIKES.
|A scoliosis patient in position just prior to application of the hammock.|
Helpful tips from this vintage nursing text advise that the leather cuffs can be sourced from the psychiatric ward and the hammock portion can be constructed from ordinary fishnet. The reference to the psychiatric ward probably foretold impending problems. Patients subjected to 4 point suspension over a surplus fishing net are likely to sustain psychotic ego fragmentation and the nursing staff subject to PTSD. Perhaps a package deal is in order with the whole the whole kit and caboodle; patient, nurses, and leather restraint cuffs winding up back on the psych floor.
Nurses are stuck in the quicksand of existing knowledge and looking back it's shocking to realize the barbarity of period treatments like LeMesurier's Hammock. It's amazing what patient's will submit to when the treatment is ordered by paternalistic physicians attired in immaculate white lab coats uttering trite expressions such as, "It's all for your own good." Old school nurses in there all white uniforms and caps were a commanding presence too. It would have been tough to say "no" to authority figures like that and probably wouldn't have stopped their ministrations if you did.