I had a patient once who had a temperature over 104 degrees. It fluctuated between 104.2 - 104.8; not going below or above. She stayed this way for about a week. We were giving her around the clock Tylenol and Motrin every eight hours between one another so she had something every four hours.
The family, voicing their concern, agreed to let me try an old home remedy. “Anything to help her,” they said full of concern.
I called Dr. Wilson and said to him, “I’m calling you about Mrs. Harrelson. Please don’t laugh but, I’d like to try an old remedy to bring down her temperature.”
“Is it still up?” he asked.
“Yes, it is. Don’t laugh at me now,” I started again.
“Go ahead, Michelle. I won’t laugh.” I could hear the curiosity in his voice as he wondered what I was going to ask him.
“I was wondering if I could put some red onion on her feet.”
He laughed. After he sobered up he said, “I’m an old mountain man and my mama used to do that to us when we ran fevers. There’s a chemical in the red onion, that when absorbed, affects the Hypothalamus gland which is responsible for our body temperatures.”
I was so relieved he didn’t think I was nuts. “So I can do this then?”
“Absolutely! Get an onion from the kitchen, cut it in half and smear the juices all over the bottom of her feet where they will be absorbed more quickly. You need to watch her closely though and don’t let her temp drop too fast. Check her every 15 minutes until her temp starts to drop and then wipe her feet with a damp cloth. Her body will do the rest.” As I wrote all of his instructions down Dr. Wilson started to giggle again. He instructed, “Call me back in an hour or two and tell me how this worked out.”
The red onion worked. Mrs. Harrelson’s temp dropped and we finally got it under control. The family thought I was the greatest thing since sliced bread (you should have seen their faces though when I was applying the onion). Dr. Wilson later told me he was impressed that I knew about the red onion trick. It was moments like that which made me feel good about being a nurse. It was a trifecta moment; the patient was helped, the family was happy and the doctor was impressed.
Several months later, I had a patient with a terrible rash and it just so happened her doctor was Dr. Wilson. As he sat at the desk going through charts I asked him, “Would you sign the order for me if I wrote one for Mrs. Todd to have Lotrisone Cream?”
“I’ll sign anything you write, Michelle.”
“Yes, really,” he confirmed looking up at me and giving me a smile.
“Great! Where’s your checkbook?”
He laughed and said, “I think my wife has it.”
“Oh,” I said a little daunted. “How old is she?”
“Uhm, I think she’s 58,” Dr. Wilson answered with another chuckle. “Why do you ask?”
“I think I can take her for it.”