Western Medicine Circa 1890: Part 1/4

I’m very pleased to host Lacy Williams as a guest blogger this month. She is doing a four-part Friday series on western medicine during the 1890’s. Lacy has developed a great contest so check yesterday’s post for details. Though, I’m not sure I’m pleased with her reading the end of books first. I might have to chat with her about that….

Welcome Lacy!

Just want to say a quick thank you to Jordyn for hosting me on her blog this month! I’m really excited to be here and I plan to share some book excerpts and do a book giveaway that you won’t find anywhere else, so stay tuned the next few Fridays.
 I did a considerable amount of historical medical research for my novel, Marrying Miss Marshal, mostly because it seemed my heroine (a town marshal) kept getting into scrapes! Some of the basic research indicated that folks in the Wild West didn’t always have access to a doctor, mostly because there was a shortage of doctors in the less-populated areas. So they tended to doctor themselves. My heroine, Danna Carpenter, is the widow of the former town marshal and often had to doctor him up, so she does have some experience with tending injuries. She also grew up on a ranch, so in my mind, she would have also seen treatment of animals, which was often done by common sense.
In the first chapter of Marrying Miss Marshal, the hero falls down a ravine and dislocates his shoulder. One of the sources I used in my research, The Modern Family Physician (1915), gives two methods for treating a dislocated shoulder. One, Stimson’s method, wouldn’t work for my story because both hero and heroine are stranded outdoors in the dark. Here’s an excerpt that tells about the second method of treatment:
The more ordinary method consists in putting the patient on his back on the floor, the operator also sitting on the floor with his stockinged foot against the patient’s side under the armpit of the injured shoulder and grasping the injured arm at the elbow, he pulls the arm directly outward (i. e., with the arm at right angles with the body) and away from the trunk. An assistant may at the same time aid by lifting the head of the arm bone upward with his fingers in the patient’s armpit and his thumbs over the injured shoulder.
Although this isn’t exactly how it happened in Marrying Miss Marshal, this information is what I based my scene on. My brother-in-law (shout out to Ben!) dislocated his shoulder several times during high school, and had either a family member or friend put the joint back into place on the spot, so I know it’s possible for a layman to do it.
How do you think my scene turned out?
From Marrying Miss Marshal chapter 1:
When she reached him, Danna knelt at his head and studied the man. His hat had slipped to one side, and his sweat-matted hair was dark next to his fair skin.
“Mister, you’ve sure got a way of getting into some pretty good scrapes,” she muttered. She probed his scalp and neck gently with her fingertips, searching for injury. Though obscured by a few days growth stubble, he had a strong jawline.
He gasped when her palm brushed his right shoulder. Keeping her touch as light as she could, Danna ran her fingers over the arm and shoulder, and he moaned again. “Hurts.”
“I know. Looks like you’ve knocked it out of place.” She prodded his torso and legs, but found no additional trauma. She did find a gun belt and weapon at his hip, but ignored it for now. “I can reset it for you.”
She smoothed a hand over his forehead, as if she was comforting her almost-niece, Ellie. “Tell me your name.”
“Chas.” A breath. “O’Grady.”
She filed the name away. O’Grady sounded Irish. She nodded absently and murmured, “I’m Danna Carpenter,” as she considered the best way to get his shoulder back into the socket. “What brings you to Wyoming?”
“Not cattle.”
One corner of his mouth quirked upward. “How’d you know?”
He snorted a laugh, then grimaced as if the movement pained him.
“Railroad surveyor?” she guessed, and gave a mighty tug.
O’Grady’s upper arm and the shoulder slid into place with an audible click. She was impressed when he didn’t cry out, just rolled his head and looked at her with those blue eyes.
“Thanks. You’re a doll.”
Then he passed out.
Copyright © 2011 by Lacy Williams. Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books.
The Modern Family Physician (1915) is available in the public domain on Googlebooks:
Volume 1
Volume 2 (dislocated shoulder information starts on page 412 of this volume)
As a child, Lacy Williams wanted to become a veterinarian “when she grew up”. However, the sight of blood often made her squeamish so she gave up that dream before her teen years. As a college student, Lacy was a physical therapy major for approximately two weeks—until she found out she’d have to take a cadaver lab to complete that degree plan. As a writer, Lacy has finally found a way she can handle blood and gore—fictionally. 
A wife and mom from Oklahoma, Lacy is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and is active in her local chapter, including a mentorship program she helped to start. She writes to give her readers happily-ever-afters guaranteed and mostly reads the end of the book first. You can find out more about Lacy at her website http://www.lacywilliams.net/. She is also active on Facebook (www.facebook.com/lacywilliamsbooks) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/lacy_williams).

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