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Friday, February 17, 2017

Remembering medical cures from "The good old days."

Good afternoon!


It's been a busy couple of weeks here, which is why I haven't blogged in almost 3 weeks.  Well, that and I continue to be under the weather with some sort of mystery ailment that's an interesting combination of exhaustion and insomnia.  Not great for the blogging, but very good for napping while binge watching reruns of "The Middle" on my DVR.  (Which is like watching my life's story...which is sometimes exhausting...and you see the evil circle of life I'm in!)


Anyway, I WAS going to blog today about some changes I've been going through.  (No kids, your body doesn't stop changing once you hit that magical age of 16.  Nope, you just level off for a while and then when you turn 45 it all sort of starts to roll downhill. and no, I'm not talking about menopause...yet.)  Most notably, how my leg hair has, for the most part, disappeared and reappeared as facial hair.  I haven't shaved my legs in a while, and it really hasn't mattered...except for one weird alien hair that's about four inches long and lives on the back of my left knee.

But I'm not going to talk about that.

Instead, my good friend Shayna and I went to a movie a couple nights ago  (we saw "An Affair to Remember" on the big screen. So worth it!) and the subject of medicine we took as kids came up. Now, I'm a bit older than Miss Shayna, and I realized while we were talking that I'm sort of survivalist miracle, given the medical treatment my parents did, and didn't, provide for me.

It started with home remedies.  You know, stuff your parents use that's not really medicine, but acts like it, so it's good enough?  Where do I begin?  Oh, yeah, my teeth.

When my adult teeth came in the front two were folded over each other.  My mother thought maybe we could just change nature by pushing on the front most tooth really hard with a Popsicle stick.  From the time I was nine to the time I was twelve I spent several minutes every morning pushing on that tooth, trying to get it back into place.  When I was twelve, they broke down and got me braces.  Funny thing is, I haven't a CLUE where the Popsicle sticks came from since my mother...a woman dead set against all things artificial, never bought them.  My head hurts from imagining her trading piano lessons for clean sticks.

Then there was the mystery lumps in my lower lip.  My parents were convinced I was chewing on my lip, thereby causing these two weird lumps in my lower lip.  The solution?  We're not going to the doctor...no we're not.  Nope, instead, they taped white medical tape on my lip.  I was twelve at the time, so this wasn't embarrassing AT ALL.  (This was prior to getting braces.)  I walked around with white tape on my lip for about a month before they decided to take me in to the doctor who took four seconds to say I have a benign cyst in my lip.  One has since vanished. The other one is still with me.

Today's kids are loaded up on probiotics to keep them "regular."  My mother had two special cures
for irregularity:  1)  Offering prunes as literally the only thing sweet in the house.  2) Giving us cod liver oil ever single day.  Let's break that down:  Cod:  Fish.  Liver: an Organ: Oil:  a thick, semi liquid goo, black green in color.  My brother and I lined up for that spoonful of gagging every morning.  Oddly enough, I sometimes long for cod liver oil, if for no other reason than to remind me how good things taste now.

One of the illnesses we contracted A LOT when I was a kid was pin worms. If you are not familiar with this disease you are either lucky or in deep denial about just how often you have to tell your under six year old kids to stop rubbing their butts on stuff.  Pin worms is highly infectious and is often passed, and most things are with kids, through contact with unwashed hands.  I had a friend in grade school and she and I apparently were just the dirtiest of the dirty kids and we passed those worms back at forth frequently.  (They nestle in the warm dark places, and then they itch.  So if Junior is complaining of an itchy butt, get a flashlight, go to a dark room and check between the child's cheeks.  It sounds horrible. And it is.)  Anyway, the cure, in the 70's for this was two-fold. One: clean everything as if someone with typhoid had just rolled through. So laundry is a big deal, sheets, towels, underwear, it's all got to be cleaned in hot, hot, hot water and the harshest soap possible. Then, dose everyone in the house with Povan.  (It's a real medicine, look it up.)  This was a thick, semi fluid goo that had a vile taste.  (Wait, that sounds familiar...) Bonus, you got dosed by weight.  So I, the 45 pounds disease catcher, got like four table spoons of the glop while my poor father, tall and girthy man he was, basically had to drink whole cups.  Want to know what it tastes like?  Try Pineapple Crush.  Same taste.


My parents' medicine cabinet would have shocked today's weak-kneed teetotalers.  Our cough medicine was 35 proof.  We coke syrup with CODEINE.  Oh, and of course, if we had a tooth ache, it was right to the liquor cabinet and rub some brown whatever on the pain.  Our decongestants actually cleared your head because it was chock full of all that lovely methamphetamine producing psuedoephedrine.  (We were probably all meth heads, we just didn't know it.)

And then...there was this.  See, my mother did not believe in baby aspirin.  And my brother vomited a lot and never could figure out how to swallow pills.  So when we had a fever or a headache, good old Mom turned to her number one, number one all time favorite drug:  the suppository aspirin.

This might have been a way for her to make sure we were really sick and not just faking it.  "Mom, my head hurts."  Okay, says Mom, "Let me go to the fridge and get a suppository aspirin. 

Oh, wait, no I'm feeling better!

For for those of you who don't know, suppositories are about the size of a ten year old's ring finger and go in one place...the rear end.  And since we kept them in the fridge, they were cold going in.  And then you had to lie very still on your stomach while the aspirin was being absorbed into you anal walls.  

I know some of you are cringing, and some of your are laughing.  You better be laughing. I can't possibly be the only one this happened to.

The biggest side effect of these was obvious:  any sort of backed up situation you might have going on was immediately cured once that cold goo bullet was stuck up in you. My guess is those things were expensive because I was NOT good at waiting for the thing to dissolve. My need to good was always stronger than my fear of my mother yelling at me for pooping out the suppository.  Which she did outside the bathroom door.  "You better not be pooping!  That suppository hasn't had time to dissolve yet!"

One time, and only one time, I thought about retrieving the suppository and reinserting it...but then I decided no parental scolding could be grosser than that.

In telling this tale to Shayna, I got that look of shock and horror and then a disbelieving laugh.  And my only response is...hey, you don't think I just started having stuff happen to me in my adult years do you?  

Oh no, this train was on the tracks at a very young age.


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