Friday, January 2, 2009

Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang



My mother was a nurse but before she was a nurse she was a witch doctor. No really she was a voodoo woman. She was a naturopath long before it was vogue. She could cure a sore throat or an earache. She could tell you if your child had coxcilliouses of the blow hole or just a regular tummy ach and then cure it. She had a cure for just about everything but was pragmatic about medication. You didn’t get medication, I mean real doctor prescribed go to the pharmacy medication unless you had a fence picket sticking out of the middle of your head or you had been hugging the porcelain deity for more than two days. She would treat you with her Meme medicine but she didn’t play around either. If her medicine didn’t work then you got the real stuff.

















I was a sickly child and had my share of ailments. I had chicken pops when I was just a babe and then the smeasles. I had dysentery, whooping cough and even had a run in with the fever twins, Scarlett O’Hara and Rheumy the Rheumatic Fever. Yes being me as a child was fun. I can only attribute my unnecessary infirmaries to the fact that I was indeed not born of my family but found under a rock in far West Texas, you can read about it here. I think it must have been the dust and mildew under that rock that weakened my immune system or perhaps I was actually an alien baby which would explain my unnatural fear of errant meteors smushing me into glowing nuclear mush. Ok maybe not but I at least gave it a try. Should I have been hit by said meteor my mother would have had a remedy and she would have administered it with the same prescription as she did all other remedies. “Gladys,” she would admonish “there are children with no legs or missing arms, there are children with cleft pallets and born with their stomachs on the outside instead of the inside. You have the damn sniffles and a little sore throat and you act like you are going to die. Now knock that shit off and come over here and let me swab your damn throat.”

You see that was one of Meme’s main cures. Iodine and glycerin mixed in a big brown bottle in which a 15 foot long cotton swab would be inserted. She would then extract the swab from the bottle and insert all 15 feet down my gagging squirming throat. All the while I would be choking gagging and trying to run away. Now this antidote was not reserved just for me oh no my brother and sister had to suffer through it too. She would make us stand under the light of the kitchen sink, because everyone keeps a 500 watt bulb over the kitchen sink, and open wide. You would be forced to dislodge your mandible joint and let your bottom jaw swing free around your knees. Then she would take a q-beam flash light and shine it down your throat while holding your tongue down with an oversized pop cycle stick. “Hmmmm, ewwww, ohhhh, awwww.” She would say. Then Meme would take the 15 foot long swab and tell you to say “Ahhh” which of course you had no choice but do. Here we would be standing in the kitchen under the glow of the 500 watt bulb with a huge recycled fudge cycle stick holding down your tongue singing “Ahhhhhhhh” at a perfect “F” flat. Oh another thing about my mother. She must have been a professional wrestler, pronounced rastler, when she was young. She could grab you, wrestle you to the ground and have you pinned in less than 3 seconds. I know of her prowess because as soon as she had determined you indeed have a sore throat because she had spotted the puss filled pockets on your tonsils. She would put you in a head lock. She would dip the cotton covered pole vaulting stick in the bottle of orangish brown tinted liquid and then she would jab it down your throat. She would rub this tonsil and swab that tonsil and keep going over it again and again all the while having which ever complaining child held in a full nelson to keep them still. The she would let go of the child just enough to let them finish with their natural gagging reflex and spit out whatever left over swab juice was left. This always left you with the after taste of rusted bumper. Then you were told to go put on your clothes and go to school.

Now this wasn’t the cure all for everything oh no, it was just the most violent of remedies. There was a mixture of hot water, a little bit of honey, a little squeeze of lemon a pinch of cayenne and a heaping jigger full of Jim Beam for coughs and respiratory illnesses. Don’t go thinking this was a pleasant drink. When you are 10 and you mother makes you down“special toddy” to keep you from coughing your lungs out you think that perhaps you will never imbibe in the spirits. The whiskey burns going down, the cayenne pepper burns and then in the middle of it all you have to cough just don’t be around any open flames and of course it burns coming out too. There were peppermint teas for stomach issues but if you stomach issue was actually causing dehydration then you got a heaping helping dose of Paregoric. Ah yes, Paregoric, the magic anti-diarrheal that is essentially legal opium and left that sarsaparilla after glow. You may be suffering from the opposite stomach issue, constipation which rhymes with anticipation. My mother would then give you a glass of Castor Oil laced prune juice to drink. Now if that didn’t set things in motion well nothing would.

When we girls got a little older and started having our “monthly” pains out came the Earl Grey tea with oil of bergamot. Should your cramps be of epic proportion Meme would break out a bottle of “Dr. Chapel’s Red Bladder Sedative”. No that didn’t mean your bladder was red, the medication was red. I think this was 1 part red dye and the rest was pure codeine. It was heaven in a bottle. One swig and you no longer felt your cramps in fact one swig and you wouldn’t have feeling in your arms or legs. Heck you were lucky if you could keep your eyes open long enough to crawl to the couch and pass out. My sister-in-law who had horrible monthly cramps bogarted the last of this magical potion when she joined the family. She would stand at the magical antique medicine cabinet look up with her pain widened eyes at my mother and say in her best Oliver Twist voice “please may I have more?” Unfortunately my sister-in-law used up the remainder of the sedative and the much revered Dr. Chapel had passed on the big clinic in the sky. We girls buried the bottle in the back yard complete with memorial service and much crying and gnashing of teeth.

My mother had a bajillion home remedies for just about every ailment. She knew where to rub on your foot or hand to help squelch a headache. She blew cigarette smoke in your ear if you had an ear ache. She mixed vinegar and the ash from newspaper together and applied it to ring worm. She would mix a mean mustard poultice and would strip the chewing tobacco out of my daddy’s mouth to put on a bee or wasp sting. She would ease a colic baby with a little warm soda water and squelch a fever with a cool bath. She doctored our animals the same way and they were pretty healthy. Well except the ones that chased the milk man’s truck. She could help you get rid of a pimple or ease the pain of sunburn. She was amazing in her knowledge of natural and prescription medications.

Now you’re wondering why I had this diatribe. Why this literary diarrhea that Paregoric won’t cure? I woke up this morning with a sore throat and because old habits die hard. I swallowed hard. I told myself it wasn’t that bad. I swallowed again and convinced myself it wasn’t bad enough to mention even though I can’t swallow my first sip of coffee without wanting to climb the wall. My first thought in my mind was “I DON’T WANT MY THROAT SWABBED!” So I’m shaking it off. I’m making myself swallow through it. I’m putting my big girl panties on and getting through that first cup of hot coffee because I don’t want my throat swabbed.

10 comments:

♥georgie♥ said...

my papa used to make us eat VICKS no not the cough syrup but the stuff you rub on your chest...

hope your better!
stoppin by from BSU to say hi

XoXo Punchy! said...

Dang girl, that was some post! I can relate though, MY grandma made me swallow Mentholatum ointment!!!!


Hugs!!!

deb said...

Oh how I remember having my throat swabbed. It WAS awful. I remember one particular time when my Grandma was visiting and she helped hold me down while MaMa swabbed. Next day Grandma woke up with a sore throat and do you think she would let MaMa near her with a swab?? Noooo Way!! LOL

Have you ever heard of "Creoline"? My hubby's family cured EVERYTHING with that stuff, but you can't buy it anymore.

Girly Stuff said...

My grandmother was a nurse and issued enemas for sore throats...actually...anything was remedied by one of these. Except diarrhea. That was a sign of health around there.

VE said...

I have a monthly pain too...it's called the mortgage...

Renovation Therapy said...

Feel better. I think I love your Meme!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

This would be my grandmother. We did not like getting sick at her house!

Coffee Bean said...

I'm tempted to print this post out! There's some pretty interesting cures in there!

I cannot drink apple juice to this day. Cider, yes. Apple juice, no. Why? My brother had a constipation problem so my mom dumped mineral oil into the apple juice for him and didn't warn anyone. I got myself a glass and the memory of it makes me GAG to this day.

You crack me up!

By the way, my husband is always joking about us moving to a one bedroom condo so the kids can't come back after they leave. I am showing him your comment!

Bob said...

MRS.G
YOUR GRANDMOTHER WAS THE SAME WAY. WHEN I WAS A LITTLE BOY (100 YRS AGO). BEFORE SCHOOL STARTED EACH FALL YOUR GRANMOTHER WOULD SAY "BOB TIMED TO BE CLEANED OUT". I HAD A CHOICE OF CASTOR OIL OR CASTOR OIL.I WOULD SET HALF DAY IN THE S..T HOUSE .BUT WHEN SCHOOL STARTED I WAS CLEAN I NEVER UNDERSTOOD WHY THIS WAS NECESSARY.

Bob said...

MRS.G
YOUR GRANDMOTHER WAS THE SAME WAY. WHEN I WAS A LITTLE BOY (100 YRS AGO). BEFORE SCHOOL STARTED EACH FALL YOUR GRANMOTHER WOULD SAY "BOB TIMED TO BE CLEANED OUT". I HAD A CHOICE OF CASTOR OIL OR CASTOR OIL.I WOULD SET HALF DAY IN THE S..T HOUSE .BUT WHEN SCHOOL STARTED I WAS CLEAN I NEVER UNDERSTOOD WHY THIS WAS NECESSARY.