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Monday, June 28, 2010


My June release, Doctor in Petticaots, has a woman doctor as the heroine. While researching to not only find out about women doctor's in the late 1800's I also discovered a little about medicine at that time.

One good source was the book Pioneer Doctor: The Story of a Woman's Work by Mari Grana. This is a story of the author's grandmother who became a doctor in 1890 and first worked in the Montana mining country. The book describes some of the doctoring practices. The one that caught my attention and I had to look it up was the use of "adhesive bandages" for broken bones. That seemed too modern. Come to find out they were using "adhesive" bandages made of cotton bandages with plaster of Paris rubbed into the weave in 1851. A Dutch doctor first started using that method even though they had been pouring the liquid plaster into wooden boxes built around the legs for a while.

In some instances, the doctors would have two bags ready to take with them. One for regular medical care and one filled with the necessary equipment for birthing. Here is just a brief list of contents that could be in a doctor's bag in the late 1800's.

Obstetrical tools (some of these were pretty horrendous looking)
Tongue depressor
Ear spoon
Catgut sutures
Glass syringe
Antiseptic soap
Peroxide of hydrogen
Drainage tubes
Percussion hammer
Adhesive bandage
Clean rolls of bandage

And the list could go on. The physicians of the 1800's and early 1900's had to carry practically their whole practice with them in order to be ready for whatever they found at the end of their sometimes long ride or late night summons.

Doctor Rachel Tarkiel, the heroine in Doctor in Petticoats, is struggling for acceptance in a male occupation. She had to settle for the only job her gender and her father's influence could get her- resident doctor at a blind school. Little did she know this is the very place she can learn to accept herself and find a man who believes in her skill.


After a life-altering accident and a failed relationship, Dr. Rachel Tarkiel gave up on love and settled for a life healing others as the physician at a School for the Blind. She's happy in her vocation--until handsome Clay Halsey shows up and inspires her to want more.

Blinded by a person he considered a friend, Clay curses his circumstances and his limitations. Intriguing Dr. Tarkiel shows him no pity, though. To her, he's as much a man as he ever was.

Can these two wounded souls conquer outside obstacles, as well as their own internal fears, and find love?


“I’m going to look in your other eye now.” She, again, placed a hand on his face and opened the eyelids, stilling her fluttering heart as she pressed close. His clean-shaven face had a couple small nicks on the edges of his angular cheeks. The spice of his shave soap lingered on his skin.

She resisted the urge to run her cheek against his. The heat of his face under her palm and his breath moving wisps of wayward hair caused her to close her eyes and pretend for a few seconds he could be her husband. A man who loved her and wouldn’t be threatened by her occupation or sickened by her hideous scar.

His breathing quickened. A hand settled on her waist, slid around to her back, and drew her forward. Her hand, holding the lens, dropped to his shoulder, and she opened her eyes. This behavior on both their parts was unconscionable, but her constricted throat wouldn’t allow her to utter the rebuke.

Clay sensed the moment the doctor slid from professional to aroused woman. The hand on his cheek caressed rather than held, her breathing quickened, and her scent invaded his senses like a warm summer rain.

Wife, mother, grandmother, and the one who cleans pens and delivers the hay; award winning author Paty Jager has brought her husband of thirty-one years to maturity, along with four children. Currently the empty nesters farm 130 acres. She not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.
Paty has been a member of RWA for twelve years and has taught workshops at chapter meetings, conferences, and online.

She has four historical western romance novels available through The Wild Rose Press and one contemporary western, which won the 2008 Best Contemporary Romance EPPIE. She has two new releases this year, one a paranormal historical, Spirit of the Mountain, set among the Nez Perce and the fourth book in the Halsey brother's series, Doctor in Petticoats. She is also excited about her recently contracted contemporary western, Bridled Heart. To learn more about Paty drop by her website:


Ann_Campbell said...

Nifty info about the doctor bag :) Thanks :)

flchen1 said...

Wow, guess you had to be pretty physically strong and tough to be a doctor as well as mentally capable! Thanks for the interesting tidbits, Paty!

Anonymous said...

Loved the excerpt, Paty! And the very interesting info on medical docs then. I never realized so much was involved.

hugs, Kari Thomas,

Tanya Hanson said...

HI Paty, great post. I remember seeing absolutely horrific medical and dental instruments at the Shelburn Museum in Vermont. Nightmarish LOL.

I know I'll love Rachel! Best wishes for many sales.

Paty Jager said...

Ann, You're welcome. ;)
flchen1, yes, a doctor in the rural areas didn't have any help other than friends and family of the injured to help them.

Hi Kari, I'm glad you liked the excerpt.

Hi Tanya, Yes. There were some pretty interesting things I came across in my research. Thanks!

Kathy Otten said...

Hi Paty,

Fascinating stuff. Fodder for a dozen story ideas.
Love the bit in your bio as the one who cleans pens and delivers hay. I still have callouses on my hands from cleaning heifer pens even after all these years.
Don't know how you find the time to write.
Intriguing excerpt. Can't wait to read this one.

Keena Kincaid said...

Wow! Loved the excerpt but was riveted by the contents in the doctor's bag. My great uncle was a medic in WW2 and I have his medical kit and it's contents are basically the same as listed above, minus the obstetric tools. I'm suddenly very glad to be living when I do.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Kathy, yeah, I actually loved cleaning the pig pens the best. They were always happy to see me and didn't complain! LOL

Hi Keena! thanks! The medical profession has come a long way!

Linda Andrews said...

Lovely excerpt and interesting post. I've very glad by the advances of modern medicine.

Eunice Boeve said...

Interesting about the adhesive bandages and the doctor kits. Those early day patients and their families must have both feared and welcomed the doctor's visit.

Alice Trego said...

What an interesting list of ingredients in the doctor's bag. Does Rachel carry all these with her or are they all in her office at the blind school? Guess I'd better read the book, eh?


Paty Jager said...

Hi Linda, I agree.

Eunice, I agree. My dad remembers cutting his foot when he was small and the doctor sewed it up without putting him out. He says the reason was his parents couldn't afford to pay for the chloroform. Instead, His mom held him down.

Alice, I never really tell what all is in her doctor's bag. But she does a couple of procedures in the book. It was one of those, not trying to sound like a text book things.

Arletta Dawdy said...

Great post...again. The old prison hospital in Florence, Arizona was a jolt of reality for this visitor. It served the community, as I remember, with caged beds for children!
We also have a family story, early 20th century, about my great-grandmother excising her own breast way to verify this but when you are poor, you may be verry poor.

She said...

Medicine has come a long way. It used to be the doctor traveled to you. Now you do the traveling. Of course, the medical instruments are a lot bigger and sophisticated today. Good info.