Monday, November 3, 2008

The Good Doctor West Discusses Nerve Exhaustion


Nerve Exhaustion? What's that?


The good Doctor West, author of Maidenhood and Motherhood (c.1886) has visited several times over the past few months. Previous dissertations:
Don’t Give Your New Bride the Vapors
Dr. West Discusses Spinsterhood
Dr. West Discusses Nervous Affections of Women
More Lip Service from the Good Dr. West
The Good Dr. West is in; Change of Life

He has several more topics to share with you, and will begin the next series with Nerve Exhaustion which he says runs rampant through all classes (although his book is written mainly for the middle and upper classes as the working class cannot afford books or medical treatment or time off to deal with nervous exhaustion) and has never been fully understood, nor has it received the amount of attention it should at the hands of the practitioner.

He goes into an explanation of the nervous system that would cause twitters and guffaws among today’s physicians. He does maintain that the nervous system is subject to growth and decay and that agents producing this abnormal condition and causing debility are unlimited and can begin when “our tender shoots (that would be children) are exposed to a broad distribution of mental fertilizers (too much excitement of the mind through learning.)

The Doctor states that he is introducing this subject to his female reader because “she is, as many women are, on the way to nervous bankruptcy.

The symptoms the reader should look out for – and will most certainly and unfailingly find while reading this chapter- include:
Tenderness of the scalp at the front back or throughout the entire head
Difficulty combing or brushing hair due to scalp tenderness
Hair feels sore (isn’t this usually associated with a hangover?)
Heat and burning at the back part of the head (just move away from the radiator, Millicent)
Sore spot on scalp, forehead, temples, or base of the neck
Feels the need to support the head
Dull unexpressive eyes (usually I have these on Monday mornings)
Pain, pressure, heaviness at the top or back (or both) of the head which may be caused by too much blood on the brain (will get to this cure in a minute)
Vertigo or lightness of the head
Redness of the eyes
Impaired vision
Mist or cloud or spots before the
Dialated eyes



are my eyes dialated?



Noises in the ear like sudden explosions. (Just take those cap guns away from little Freddie!)
If there is anyone out there who has not discovered they have one or more symptoms of nerve exhaustion , don’t worry, I have more symptoms. Those of you who have already diagnosed the problem may take to your bed, fainting couch or chaise immediately and only have to return to the post when we get to the cures section.
Pumping sound in ears
Softness of the voice
Faintness, want of courage
Inability to concentrate when reading or writing
Wandering mind




See what I can do?




Become irascible over trifles (we’ll have to look this one up)
Housework, noise of children at play, disappointments, and vexacions become a source of distress. (Is anyone still reading and not already in bed with a cold compress???)
Hopelessness
Fear
Easily startled by doorbell
Shuns society
Can scarcely be induced to attend church
Flushing (of the face or the toilet?)
Anyone left out there? I’m now writing this from my Louis XVI brocade chaise
Insomnia
Bad dreams
Restlessness
Fatigue
Drowsy
Listless






I'm feeling a little invisible - got anything for that?



Tenderness of the teeth
Deranged stomach
Indigestion
Nervous dyspepsia
Difficulty eating
No appetite for fluids
Nor appetite for food
Desire for stimulants and narcotics, opium, alcohol, chloroform (now we’re talking)
Sweating of the hands or feet (Does this include Floridians?)






I feel like dancing. Is that on the list?



Use of several pocket handkerchiefs during church service from profuse sweating (Does Kleenex count?)
Tenderness of the spine; whole or part, upper or lower or middle
Crawling creeping or burning sensations
Dead weight in the loins
Irregular pulse
Palpitations
Fast heart beat
Spasms of the muscles and convulsive movements
Twitching of the eye
Spasm of the limbs
The feeling of falling when first asleep
Numbness in any part of head or limbs
Unnecessary alarm
Stinging or prickly sensations anywhere on the body
Say's here you have sweaty palms!

Hands or feet go to sleep while seated
Hands or feet go to sleep while riding on a streetcar, in an omnibus, or carriage (stick with the automobile and you’ll be ok here)
Any female problems whatsoever excluding nothing whatsoever
Wanting to stay in bed
Not wanting to walk over to neighbor’s home for a visit

I may have missed a few symptoms as I was having difficulty concentrating and my left foot kept falling asleep, but I think I’ve got the majority of the signs that signal nervous exhaustion.

And now for the cure!!

Dr. West says some powerful stuff here: “ As well might the mariner, starting upon a voyage, undertake to set the helm so as to direct his vessel into the objective port. He must stand at the wheel and accommodate the rudder to the shifting winds and currents. So with the treatment of any disease, it must be varied so as to be suitably adapted to all the changes that will develop in the progress of restoration.” In other words, we’ll try some stuff and see if it works. If not, we’ll try some other stuff. If we run out of things to so I’ll just tell you it’s all in your head and to get over it.

His suggestions include:

Nutrition: eat more fat, more boiled dinners, more meat, less starch. Eat less hotel food. Hotels serve rich, highly seasoned foods that should be avoided. Eat fats, oils, fish, oysters, butter and milk. Eat fatty greasy meat. Fat up a bit. Gain some weight.

Rest:
Go to bed, and get absolute rest. Imposed isolation may be highly advantageous. (Anyone who has read The Yellow Wallpaper knows just how well this works) Have a massage.

Plenty of medication:
Use appropriate doses of ergot, arsenic, caffeine, coca, zinc, bromides, strychnine. If you survive this and are still not cured, bleeding may be called for to relieve the congestion of the brain (probably caused directly by the meds) of 20 to forty ounces. Use either general blood-letting methods, cupping or leeches.

Dr West doesn’t say how we determine when the patient is well. I’m assuming that all 352 of the above symptoms will disappear completely, including the major symptom of death that was caused by the medication and the bloodletting. As always we are grateful for the wisdom of Dr. West.

98 comments:

Sparky ♥ ∞ said...

Am I first for once!? Cool. Do I get an award? [ha ha]

I enjoy your Dr. West posts. He must have been a real snake oil salesman.

Hey, some of those *cures* I can go for: more caffeine, fatty foods ... but the aresenic, yeah, that's the stuff [NOT!!] ... ((Hugs)) ♥ ∞

Devoted said...

I would type a long and humrous response but I think I need to lie down a bit...with a cup of chocolate coffee...tee hee...

Shellmo said...

I still cannot get past those dilated EYES!!!

steviewren said...

Yikes! I have 2/3 of all the symptoms listed. I would take to my bed, but then who would take care of me?

Betsy said...

Is he sure he isn't describing menopause? :)

MuseSwings said...

Betsy -this is all the regular every day nervous exhaustion up to and including menopause which can include all of this and more.

I hope the rest of you ladies are ensconced on your chaises eating boiled dinners with blanc mange for desert and keeping cold compresses on your heads. I'm thinking we all should have at least 15 of the symptoms.

Blicky Kitty said...

I'm eating Halloween candy and red wine and I'm about to take laudinum and chloroform myself into a bloody stupor.

Blicky has a little something for you over at the Blicky homestead....

Blicky Kitty said...

Oh I just popped back over to let you know that I did borrow the last of your chloroform along with that cup of sugar yesterday.

I was so startled by the doorbell just now, that my nervous dispepsia has acted up once more and I've fallen into a swoon. I shall be needing some fatty meats and absynthe.

MuseSwings said...

Blicky! Luckily I happen to have an extra fainting couch. Have a toes up here while I ring the Dr. for more drugs, more alchohol and meat. Lots and lots of fatty marbled meat.

Lily Hydrangea said...

this is incredible! The good DR pretty much covers it all doesn't he?

soulbrush said...

after senita's wedding yesterday, i got every one of the above symtoms,mainly dead loins and dilated eyes...yikes maybe it's called old age, think i'll go back and lie down in a dark room, with my arsenic!

Bibi said...

Cynthia, this is just hilarious. I like the part about eating fat and putting on weight, though1 :<)

Lavinia said...

Another symptom "feeling of heaviness in the hands" can be greatly alleviated by throwing this book down!!!

MuseSwings said...

Lily - it appears every human being on earth must be suffering from this malady.

Soulbrush the heavyness may have been caused by too much cake, but just in case the Dr recommends complete bed rest and lots of laudamum. Lots and lots.

Bibi...which will cause more nerve problems when we look in the mirror - there's no way to escape it.

Lavinia - how did you know the book is heavy? It is, is more ways than one. Reading it gives me nerve exhaustion and my wrists hurt.

Kalianne@theBowerbird'sNest said...

Oh my tummy hurts! Not from exhaustion of the abdominal nerve plexus but laughing so much! Laughter is good medicine, maybe that's Dr West's angle! Probably not. Muse Swings is good medicine!

La Belle Mere UK said...

Soooooooooo funny!!! Yes, the dilated eyes pic cracked me right up!!

Where did you find this guy??

Happy SITS day - so glad I've found your blog! Will be a follower!

B xxx

Tania @ Larger Family Life said...

I'm off to bed right now!

Tania (via SITS)

Angela said...

Congrats on being the SITS Featured Blogger! you're blog is beautiful in a very classic way!

Angela from Angela's Soliloquy
http://angelaspointstoponder.blogspot.com

GreedyGirl said...

Hi
www.greedygirlsguide.com

checking in from SITS. I love the design and picture of your blog

Housewife Savant said...

What a brilliant mind that recognizes Dr. West's usefulness in the 21st century. Good stuff here.
Congrats on being SITS' fb today. Enjoy!

Beth in NC said...

Coming over from SITS. Ha ... did any of his patients survive? Sheesh.

JennyMac said...

Dr. West....why couldn't I have married him? LOL.
Happy SITS day.

Tammy Howard said...

I hope my comment makes sense - I'm pretty stoned on chloroform.

Happy SITS day! Following...

Robin said...

LOL.....
Gee....I thought those were the symptoms of menopause. :-D

Preston said...

I think that is just hysterical. I love really old books that deal with medicine and househould stuff. Have you ever seen a cookbook from that era? So funny. Happy SITS day.

mommytoalot said...

ha ha..what a great post.
Congrats on being FB today

Leslie said...

Dr. West's treatment is causing me be irascible over trifles. I feel the vapors coming on...

delightfullysweet said...

Wow that is some list! Hilarious post!
Happy SITS Day!

Astrid said...

Okay. That's it. I'm heading back to bed. Now at least I've got doctor's orders to do so! LOL!!!!

Thanks for the funny post!
Happy SITS day!

Becky said...

It sounds like he's describing my mum, lol.
Deranged stomach? That sounds somewhat painful.
Happy SITS dat

The Laughing Idiot said...

I'm doomed! I think I have 95% of the symptoms. I find many of my issues come from the shoots themselves. I really don't understand how gaining weight is going to help. I've been practicing this remedy for years and I'm overweight to prove it - I should be giddy with non-nervousness by now.

countryfriedmama said...

Happy SITS Day!

Teresha and Damon said...

Oh my! I think I have or have experienced every symptom. I must be the walking dead, LOL!
Happy SITS day to you!

Cher said...

Happy SITS day!!

B.o.B. said...

Good lord! Just get a gun and put the poor woman out of her misery. LOL!

Happy Sits Day and thanks for the laugh.

Life of a Stepmama said...

Happy SITS day!! WOW that Dr. is hilarious!! Cracks me up!

Sandy said...

Okay, well this explains a lot.....lol

Joy said...

Congrats on your SITS feature day - I need to lay down on a fainting couch now.

Laura said...

Happy SITS Day!

Creative Junkie said...

Fine. I'll fess up. I was his case study.

Elizabeth Patch said...

This explains everything: itys all that "hotel food" that I've been eating. Fascinating post

Connie Weiss said...

This was great! I have more than half of these symptoms and now I think I will eat a cheeseburger.

Happy SITS Day!

BlogBaby said...

Dr West was a genius I tell you! And those high levels of narcotics never dun did me no wrong.

BlogBaby

Erin said...

So funny. Enjoyed hearing from Dr. West on this fine, fine SITS day!

Congratulations! I'd love to have you over in my little corner of the world!

http://www.empowerpeoplechangelives.com

Little Miss Baker said...

hehe how funny! thanks for sharing and congrats on being FB for the day :)

withoutadornment said...

Hahaha! This guy is funny. My favourite symptom is the "Deranged stomach."

RebeccaMom said...

wow! i had no idea! congrats on being the fb at SITS today :) I hope you have a great day!

the planet of janet said...

well. i'm off to gain some weight and go back to bed.

the doctor said ...

Superjaxster said...

LOL! Happy SITS day! The dilated eyes lady looks like laser beams will shoot out of them at any second. Take that, housework!

Dawn said...

I think I am on my way to nervous bankruptcy. LOL! What a list.

Denise said...

Oh my! I think I would have been Dr. West's #1 patient! LOL

Ashley said...

Hilarious!

I have read The Yellow Wallpaper and actually did an end of term research paper on the mis-diagnosis of women from the era.

Men were and still are not quite right.

Culture Girl said...

Hi,
Congrats on being the FB! Enjoy your day.

glenna said...

Enjoyed it! Happy SITS day!!!

The Mom @ Babes in Hairland said...

That is just hilarious! I think I have just about all those symptoms though. Not a good sign right?! :) Just stopping by from SITS to say congrats on FB today!

piecemeal people said...

Well I don't know about anyone else, but apparently I'm as good as dead. Though I can't say I've ever experienced "tenderness of the teeth" or a "deranged stomach."

Happy SITS Day!

Christian Mommy Writer said...

Oh my! That was pretty interesting.

Happy SITS day!

Robbie S. Redmon, LPC said...

Happy SITS Day!

Sarahlcc said...

I'll just skip Dr. Snakeoil and go straite to my closest Walmart. :-)

Mariel said...

Now we all have an excuse to put on weight! Thanks!

Mariel
www.oneshetwoshe.com

Amy said...

Oh my goodness, that is too funny! Where did you get a hold of that book? How do you have the patience to read it (possibly for kicks, right?)

carma said...

I know fer sure I am on my way to "nervous bankruptcy" as I sit here typing this

Lisa Anne said...

Those are some creepy pictures. The one with the circle eyes reminds me of the movie Jeepers Creepers. LOL

Sturgmom said...

I've never been happier to have a disorder whose cure is either fatten up or die. Bring on the chocolate!

Stephanie said...

I love it! My self-diagnosis is finally validated! Ha!

Michelle said...

No need to use the arsenic because now they say that a tanning bad is as bad as arsenic...so go tan for a little while.

and hey, who's Millicent? That's my daughters name!!!

Just Me said...

love it, happy SITS day

Zeemaid said...

I just love reading those old books like that. Great commentary!

Happy SITS day.

Cynthia at A Shimmy in My Spirit said...

That is so funny...as are your comments.Terrific post as we all debate health care!

Brandy said...

That's too much! If only I could use those ailments as an excuse to miss work. "Uh, I'm sorry I cannot come in today, my eyes are dialated"

The Double Dipped Life said...

Oh, this is hilarious! Congrats on your sits day!

Holly Noelle @ Domestic Dork said...

Hmmmmm...I wish MY doctor would recommend more fatty foods. lol

Kari said...

So funny!

Over from SITS to say hello.

Pricilla said...

Seems to me you take enough arsenic and strychnine all of your problems will melt away...

Happy SITS day!

Leigh said...

Stopping over from SITS! Great post!

Jessica said...

Instead having "Nerve Exhaustion," sounds like she might be a SAHM with a man.

The Dapper Darling said...

haha...absolutely! SITS :)

Marrdy said...

Good to know what is wrong with me. I was scared it was some kind of poisoning. (Diet Coke perhaps?)

barefacedapproach said...

Awesomeness!!!!

Stopping by from SITS :)

Brandy said...

happy SITS day. i'm soooooooo exhausted - i didn't even realize.

Tranquility said...

My, oh my... Thank you for sharing the wise doctor's advice. I will be sure to schedule my next blood-letting appointment immediately! I'm badly in need of a refill on my aromatic spirits of ammonia and had planned to schedule a home visit anyway. ;)

Kristen said...

How did you even get through this chapter? The list of random bodily everythings is insane!

Reluctant Housewife said...

This Dr. West guy is very wise. Nothin` like a drug takin` and blood lettin` to make a girl feel better. Good advice.

Cindi @ Moomette's Magnificents said...

Wow, my Grandmom was born in 1901 and I'm sure my great-grandmother took all this advice - my grandmom lived to be 101

Perhaps it's worth a second look?

Visiting & happy SITS day!

dddiva said...

Hahaha I would take to my bed but I'm sure I don't have the energy to make it so far- all those inches you know.

My Household Junk said...

Well no wonder I twitter so much!

greedygrace said...

Wanted to wish you a Happy SITS Day!

supah ~d said...

Happy SITS day!!
d

Lamonica Epps said...

Interesting post. Congratulations on being a featured blogger.

Stopping by from SITS

Lisa M said...

lol I think I'm going to check out all your other Dr. West posts!! Congrats on SITS Day!

Mama Mel said...

Again... super funny! I like the end where he talks about "congestion of the brain"... I call this "Momnesia"... :)

Transparent Mama said...

Happy SITS Day. Hilarious stuff. I wonder how long it took him to come up with all that.

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

I really, really hope I don't get that! ;)

San said...

Congrats on being an FB! Yeah, I am a little late. Was bogged down at work. But I'm sure glad I made it to see your blog! Great work! :)

MommyAmy said...

Happy SITS Day!

Doesn't that list pretty much describe ALL women! lol

I feel sorry for his wife, if he had one... I'm thinkin' that's a pretty big if!

HollyS said...

I'm going to go get irascible over trifles

marry said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!
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