Monday, May 30, 2016

Genevieve's First Patient (Her Sister Sara Ann)

My mother, Genevieve Holyoak Johnson worked as a nurse during the years between her graduation from Grand County High School and the time I was born.  She had no formal nursing schooling, but was trained by Dr. I. W. Allen to do exactly what he wanted and needed her to do.  She administered anesthesia, (Ether), gave injections, emptied bed pans, and many other nursing tasks.  She was a favorite of many of her patients because she performed her duties in a way that allowed her patients to maintain their dignity.  She performed her work with caring and kindness.  When her younger sister Sara Ann graduated, she joined Genevieve in this profession and was also a well loved nurse.

 Aunt, Sara Ann, as it turns out, may have been Mama's first patient.  She recently recounted an incident when she (Sara Ann) was about 12 years old and her sister Genevieve was about 14.  As they crossed through a ditch on their property on their way home, Sara Ann came into contact with Poison Ivy. Within a few days, poor Sara Ann's legs developed oozy, itching blisters.  The irritation began to spread, growing to affect her body up to her arm pits.

Genevieve happened to come across a remedy on the back of their younger brother Dan's Boy Scout Handbook.  The recipe called for a paste to be made with laundry detergent as the main ingredient. Genevieve made the paste, using the "Rinso" brand laundry detergent their mother swore by.  The remedy was spread over poor Sara Ann's body just before bedtime.  She reports that it "stung and burned like crazy."  Genevieve had taken an old clean sheet and torn it into strips.  She then wrapped her patient up "as if I were a mummy," reports Aunt Sara Ann.  She had a very difficult time getting to sleep that night with the remedy causing such intense pain.  At last she was able to sleep.  In the morning, the bandaging was removed.  All the blisters had crusted over.  Those quickly healed and Genevieve's patient at last had relief.

Aunt Sara Ann and I are certainly not recommending this as a Poison Ivy remedy. (Neither would my mother if she were still alive.)  This was the best that was available at the time.  Sara Ann will be 88 years old in a few weeks.  She sure misses her sister Genevieve who passed away several years ago. So do I.  Thanks Aunt Sara Ann for taking this trip down "memory lane" and taking me along with you.