Laurie Kingery: Fixing What Ails You

 

It’s my very great pleasure to be guest-blogging once again at Pistols and Petticoats. My current release from Love Inspired Historicals, THE DOCTOR TAKES A WIFE, is the second in my “Brides of Simpson Creek” series. Hero, Dr. Nolan Walker, had been a doctor serving with the famed 20th Maine regiment and had seen all the carnage and death that war can produce. A widower, all he wanted from life after the war was to marry and seek the happiness he lost when his wife and child died before the Civil War.

After befriending a paralyzed Confederate officer and accompanying the latter home to Texas to die, Nolan decided to settle there and began corresponding with Sarah Matthews, a member of the Simpson Creek Spinsters Club, a group of women seeking to bring marriage-minded men to their bachelorless town. The relationship seemed destined for a happy ending until the two met (in the previous book, MAIL ORDER COWBOY, out in November from LIH). As soon as Sarah discovered Nolan was a hated Yankee, she wanted no more to do with him, for her fiancé had never returned from the war-why would she want to be courted by a man who had worn the hated blue? But a Comanche attack has left the town without a doctor, and Nolan stays on as the new town physician.

In my other, non-writing life, I am an emergency room nurse, so I’m pretty familiar with how modern doctors think and act. But to portray Dr. Walker realistically, I had to research the state of medicine in the U.S. in the 1860’s.

Medicine was still appallingly primitive. Medical colleges were still in their infancy, and most doctors learned their trade by apprenticing to an established doctor for a few years, working and living at that doctor’s house. While the first licensing law for doctors was passed in New York in 1806, many states later repealed their licensing laws, so quackery abounded and was not controlled in any way.

To quote Moliere, “Nearly all men die of their medicines, not of their diseases.” This was never truer than in the 1800’s. Most medicines were designed to make one vomit, urinate or defecate, and many doctors still believed in bleeding as a remedy. One of the most-used medicines was calomel, a powerful laxative made of mercury, which killed as many as it helped, yet its use went on.

           

In true intelligent-hero fashion, my Dr. Nolan Walker didn’t believe in using dangerous medicines like calomel, but he had appallingly few things he could use. The germ theory had just been proposed, and in the story he uses carbolic acid as a wound disinfecting agent, but many times the doctors could only resort to supportive therapy that gave the body time to heal itself. There were few hospitals, no x-rays, no antibiotics. One of the few painkillers was laudanum, an opium-based medicine, but wise doctors also used willowbark tea to relieve pain and reduce fever-for willowbark contains the ingredient in aspirin.

A doctor made house calls in his buggy, and his doctor bag might hold a stethoscope such as the one pictured, lancets, a few basic medicines and instruments. A doctor was expected to be able to handle childbirth as well as amputation-and when faced with treating an insane patient with a hysterical pregnancy, Nolan can only use his common sense. And when faced with an epidemic, as Nolan is in the story, he has to use every bit of his medical training and endurance to save as many as possible in Simpson Creek, especially when the life of Sarah Matthews, who battles the epidemic at his side, hangs in the balance. And then he has no choice but to call in the Great Physician for a consultation.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free book. We’ll draw for it tomorrow. 

Readers can contact me at my website, www.lauriekingery.com

Thanks again to the Petticoats and Pistols Fillies for letting me visit!

Blessings, Laurie Kingery

Guest Blogger
Updated: January 1, 2011 — 1:00 pm

20 Comments

  1. I would love to try an Inspirational! Yours sounds really great!
    To be a doctor in these times sometimes seemed more like a gamble than anything else. They couldn’t really look “inside” the body (like x-ray) and see how everything “works”. So, I really have a lot respect for people who became a doctor in these days (I even have great respect for doctors nowadays 🙂 )!
    Good luck with your book!

  2. I loved Mail Order Cowbow. I know this one will be just as good if not better. I love doctor books and historical together. I’d love to be a lucky winner.
    Hugs, Cathy

  3. I was reading about the Tuscon doctors this morning and thinking of calling on the Great Physician and the miracles that have occurred in the tragedy.

    I am a big fan of medical and inspirational themes. Nice to have both in the same book!

    Looking forward to reading it.

    Peace, Julie

  4. Very interesting post,I too am a retired Nurse,an just love finding antique medical books an supplies,its interesting to read how far medical science has come,an with what they had to cope with back then an still managed to save people,the book looks yummy,cant wait to read it,thanks for coming today

  5. oh it would have been awful to be a dr then!
    not being able to have much faith in what you can actually do
    i bet experience was everything!!
    well…depending what kind of experience you had, lol

    book sounds great!

  6. Loved the post, Laurie! The medical stuff is fascinating, but what most hooked me was your hero. So many widowed heroes are bitter and hurting and self-protective. I love the idea of a man who wants to again be happily married. And what a great conflict for your heroine! Here’s this good guy who was on the wrong side … Yep, I’m hooked!

  7. Sounds like a very interesting book. I will look for it at the book store. Thanks for an interesting post.

  8. Beautiful cover!

  9. Avatar

    I’ll have to get on board with your Simpson Creek Spinsters Club series. Very little can get in the way of determined women when they set their mind to something. The Civil War damaged so many lives. Too many were unable to heal and had bitterness as their legacy. Sounds like a story I’ll enjoy and one I can pass along that my daughter will read.
    I look forward to more books in this series.
    Good luck with the release of THE DOCTOR TAKES A WIFE.

  10. Laurie, welcome back to the Junction! We’re always so excited when you come to visit. You always have an interesting blog and this one is no exception. I’m so glad I didn’t live back in the 1800’s. I’d have hated to be sick. But the pioneers had such knowledge of herbs and roots so they could treat themselves. They had to know these things because doctors were pretty few and far between and like you said their medicines sometimes made the patient sicker.

    Love the cover of your new book. It’s looks great. I love stories about doctors.

  11. Your book sounds really good and I have added it to my TBR list. I enjoy reading Inspirational stories.

  12. Love reading your books… looking forward to reading more! 😀

  13. Wow, thanks for all the wonderful,thoughtful comments! You P& P fillies have the BEST readers–no wonder I always jump at the chance to come on here. Love that some of the fillies come on and comment too. Can’t wait to see who will win. I’ll be back in April when the 3d book in the series–THE SHERIFF’S SWEETHEART, comes out. The cover to this one is even more gorgeous than this book–if you want a sneak peek, go to my website or http://www.amazon.com.
    Blessings, Laurie Kingery

  14. Interesting post. Your book sounds great.

  15. Laurie,

    Thank you for being here and sharing a wealth of info. I love all your books so I cannot wait to get my hands on this one

    Have a lovely day

    Walk in harmony,

    Melinda

  16. I have a nursing background also, so this has
    been an interesting posting for me. Thanks for
    all the information.

    Pat Cochran

  17. Laurie, I really can’t wait to read your book! I love the Love Inspired historical line, especially all the variety. Is that stethoscope pictured from the 1860’s? I am working on a Regency historical and have one of my heroes learning medicine in 1817. It’s such a fascinating topic, I could research for years (and never get around to writing!)

    Thanks for visiting here today. 🙂

  18. Enjoyed reading your blog today..I’m reading now a book by Lorraine Heath set in 1854 about a girl who went along with Florence Nightingale to the Crimean War and it tells what health care was like then…very interesting. I’ll have to read your book as well.

  19. I find old time medicine fascinating, although I wouldn’t have wanted to live back then. It’s hard to believe some of the things they did in the name of medicine. I’d love to read your book.

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