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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Medical Advice That Will Blow Your Mind

I come from a long line of people who believe that nothing says “cure-all” like a good bowel movement.

“Mom, I’ve got a headache.”

“Have you pooped?”

We’re full of home-y advice like that. Mustard plasters, vinegar on sun burns, baking soda on bee stings –

You may lose what respect you still have for me, but I’ve got a cousin who claims that his mother used to blow cigarette smoke into his ears to combat earache.

She claims to have learned it from her mother (my grandmother).

As someone who was privy to the fact that grandma would sneak a smoke in the bathroom, standing on the bathtub and blowing it out the fan to avoid detection from grandpa, I can’t help but wonder if this was her way of having a cigarette without having to hide it.

Why blow it out a window all alone in the bathroom when you can sit on the davenport and blow it – in a curative fashion, of course – in a kid’s ear?

I’m just surprised she didn’t have a use for the ashes.

Still, I wonder about the rhythms of the body, the things we think are good for us, the things we know are not.

Me, for example.

“You sound nervous,” Mary says.

“Nah,” I say. “I’ve just had to go to the bathroom for the last hour, hour and-a-half.”

She laughs, a pleasant sound that promises commiseration and, if you’re lucky, lemon bars later.

“I’m not kidding,” I say. “I keep thinking that I’m going to do just this one more thing…” I trail off, switch ears. “You’re lucky you’re at home.”

You can almost hear her shrug over the phone. “Meh,” she says. “The difference is that at home when you finally give in and run to the bathroom you can do that weird little dance all the way there without someone asking you if you’re gonna be okay.”

“I waited until mere moments before disaster a couple weeks ago and then got stopped just short of the bathroom by someone with a spreadsheet question. The roaring panic in my head should’ve been audible, but he didn’t appear to have heard it.”

“Where do you suppose that comes from,” Mary muses. “Were we not allowed breaks as children?”

“Perhaps I’m afraid I’ll miss something,” I suggest.

“Perhaps you need someone to blow smoke in your ear.”

I laugh. This is why I call her.

“Hey,” I say, warming to the subject, “If blowing smoke in the ear is good for earache, where are we gonna have to blow that smoke when I can’t tear myself away from my desk long enough to –”

“Hey,” she says, mock-stern. “We don’t talk like that.”

"No,"I say, smiling. "We don't." 
 
 
 

To those playing along at home, recent medical tests have all come back negative. My doctor counsels that my myriad symptoms could be stress-related. I, of course, listed 30-odd reasons for him as to why this could not be, broke out in hives, and stole all his Q-tips when he left the room for help.  Doctors, huh?

48 comments:

Eva Gallant said...

Negative tests are a good thing, trust me!

Pearl said...

Eva, I agree. :-) It sounds bad (negative!) but I'm quite happy about it.

Joshua said...

You mean she didn't save the ashes to make some sort of poultice?

vanyelmoon said...

Your mother sounds like my grandma. Her answer to every ailment when I was a child was to give me laxatives. I don't know if she just though I was fat and was trying to get me to lose weight or if she really thought the laxatives would cure everything.
Glad to hear the tests came back negative. I used to have a lot of stress-induced symptoms. now I deal with it though meditation and exercise. Did wonders :)

Shelly said...

So glad your tests were negative!

In our culture down here, the home remedy for an earache is not blowing smoke in the ear, but making a paper cone, placing the end in the ear, and SETTING THE CONE ON FIRE, hopefully not burning your ear in the process.

R. Jacob said...

negative is good, I am positive. so what is next? environment? household products?

CarrieBoo said...

I had to run and pee half way through reading this!

ducksmahal.com said...

I'm kinda not sure how to comment to this one.

Leenie said...

Mustard plasters, vinegar on sun burns, baking soda on bee stings all work, by the way. Glad the tests came back negative. You should have stolen the exam gloves and used them to make cow udders, goofy hats and unbreakable water bombs---they are guaranteed to reduce stress.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I had a grandma who believed a glass of water would cure anything.

SherilinR said...

i do that stupid twitchy peepee dance on a daily basis & then always have to check to see if i peed a little on myself by the time butt hits toilet. tmi?
why do we do that? it's not like a quick trip to the bathroom takes large chunks away from our day.
now i wish someone around here would get an earache to give me an excuse to go buy some smokes.

Ms Sparrow said...

You went and mentioned Lemon Bars, darn you! I hadn't thought about lemon bars in years--now I absolutely must have a lemon bar! Lemon bars will be on my mind until I make a pan and pig-out on them. And, it will all be your fault!

Argent said...

Our childhood cure for earache was Mum pouring warm olive oil into the offending shell-like, then bunging it up with cotton wool, with a strict instruction to lie down and keep quiet.

This is one time when negative=good.

Bodacious Boomer said...

Congrats on your good test results kiddo. I'm going in for the big squeeze today. I hope I have the same outcome.

Suldog said...

I have always maintained the following personal mantra: If you feel like taking a pee, and you have the opportunity to do so, what are you going to gain by not doing so? Whenever a bathroom presents itself, I use it if at all possible. You never know when that extra 30 minutes on the other end might be needed!

By the way, it is possible that the smoke in the ear thing actually works. As a smoker, I believe I remember having read somewhere that nicotine does have a slight anesthetic effect. Either that or it kills you. I know it was one or the other.

Douglas said...

Thoughts that came to mind while reading your post:

Notice how some people answer the phone (or continue a phone conversation) while in the bathroom since the cordless phone became common? Now add in public restrooms with the advent of the cell phone.

Cigarette ashes help clot blood from minor cuts (never got a chance to try it on an arterial spurt).

JeannetteLS said...

You mean, a good BM is NOT the answer to all problems? I will ask my best friend to blow smoke in my ear... outside of course.

Pat Tillett said...

My granny felt the same way about BM's. We had to suffer tablespoons full of cod liver oil every day when we were with her (which was quite often).

haphazardlife said...

Surprisingly, when I was on vacation, I had no insomnia problems, no acid reflux, no headaches... Who me? Stressed?

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Dad used to tell me about how his dad blew smoke in his ears as as kid because he was prone to terrible earache.

alwaysinthebackrow said...

Two negatives equal a positive. Did you have a second negative in your life? 'cause that would account for the test results. Good news.
My husband tells the story of how he never wanted to use the bathrooms at school, and waited all day to get home to be able to use those familiar facilities. No wonder a BM can make one feel better after restraining for so long.

Kristy said...

This was hilarious in so many fabulous ways! Glad you had negative results!

fishducky said...

To BODACIOUS BOOMER--Do you mean a mammogram? My cousin thinks (seriously) they are called MAMMYograms, which makes me visualize an Aunt Jemima-type lady, headscarf & all, being told to open her blouse & lay her boob on the shelf.

ipenka said...

I always think +1 for home remedies whenever a medical board issues proof that there was actual scientific merit.

Joyful Things said...

My grandma gave cigarette butts and ashes to the horses - she said it killed any worms or parasites they might have........ The funny thing (or not so funny) is that the horses enjoyed eating the used butts and ashes.

Negative results are good - and bad. You still need to discover what is going on to make you feel sick. Don't try eating cigarette butts and ashes as I feel my grandma was wrong.

Symdaddy said...

Of course, you know that the best cure for scalp ailments is a good dose of fresh seagull do-do!

Apart from the initial pain of the high-splatter impact, it works wonders as scalp polish too!

smalltownme said...

Working as an aide at an elementary school, if a child had a stomach ache we would first advise "go to the bathroom and have a drink of water."

Pearl said...

Joshua, there was a dearth of ash-based poultices, oddly enough…
Vanyelmoon, the yoga is helping, I think. And even knowing it’s not bodily based (?!) helps some. I just don’t always like to see what’s right in front of me, you know? Comes out sideways…
Shelly, I’ve seen that! Crazy stuff. People swear by it. :-) People swear by a lot of stuff…
R. Jacob, I think I need to take stock of what’s really important to me. And right there is where I get a little frightened, you know?
CarrieBoo, and THAT, my friend, made me laugh!
Ducksmahal, yeah. :-) I wasn’t too sure about this one myself!
Leenie, dang it, Leenie! You’re absolutely right! I forgot to grab the rubber gloves!
Green Girl, now THAT’s a new one. Although honestly, it IS good for you…
Sherilin, oooh. Smokes. :-) I shared one with two other girls at a really cool Halloween party Saturday night. (Have not had another, of course!)
Ms. Sparrow, and I notice that you went and posted your recipe for them! Dang it, Sparrow! Now I want one…
Argent, I can see where that would work. Warm oil, stay quiet. I think a lot of these old cures have a solid footing in good medicine. Still don’t get the cig smoke in the ear bit, though…
Bodacious, I am pulling for you. :-)
Suldog, hear, hear. And I ALWAYS run to the bathroom before I get in an elevator! No one wants to be stuck in a small box with you doing that crazy dance, I’ll tell you that much…
Douglas, it’s absolutely true. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spoken to someone who turns out to be perched on a toilet. Amazing.
Jeannette, well a good poop couldn’t hurt the situation. :-) (My mother is so proud of me right now…)
Pat, oooh. I know how that works. That’s how I induced the birth of my son!!
Haphazardlife, oh, I hear you. Wow. I wonder how common that is…
Delores, and here I thought people were kidding about that!!

Little Ms Blogger said...

My grandmother would love my mother because she believed that she HAD to smoke to have a bowel movement.

Pearl said...

Kristy, I aims to please!

Fishducky, that was delightful. :-) (Oh, and your book left in the mail today! Thank you so much for ordering “I Was Raised to be A Lert”.)

Ipenka, our forefathers (and foremothers) used what they had, and I love how often there is sound reason behind the old cures.

Joyful Things, oh, you know, I think I’d heard that somewhere before! (and you’ve just made me remember that I ate cigarette ashes straight out of the ashtray as child!! My poor mother… Wonder if I had parasites?!)

Symdaddy, given your post today, I suspect you’ll be seeing seagulls wheeling overhead for a while!

Smalltownme, process of elimination, if you’ll excuse the expression. :-)

Little Ms Blogger, I have a number of friends who believe the same thing!!

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

Sooo glad you're O.K., dearie. What would I do without Pearl to blow smoke up my...
Wait. You don't talk like that here - you just said so. Crap! (Haha. Crap. *knee-slap!*)

Antares Cryptos said...

Shy bowel?

Did he also tell you to avoid stress?
Because that's like blowing smoke in your ear.

Seriously, glad everything came out negative.

Daisy said...

Glad the tests were in your favour!

My grandfather swore by the "smoke in the ear" treatment, but he smoked White Owl Cigars. The ashes were supposed to be good for toothpaste too. I stole one of his cigars one day when I was home along, went into the bathroom, and lit up. It was a good place to be since I soon turned green and erupted!

Ach du lieber said...

It's the heat from the smoke, not the smoke itself. A warm cloth would have the same effect. (Apologies to your mom and gma)

Oh, and I have a collection of latex gloves (the new ones, not the ones from the hazmat bin) stolen from every doctor's office I've ever been to. And steak knives from myriad restaurants. The best things in life are free...

The Elephant's Child said...

Really happy that the tests were all negative. When next you go to the doctors take a REALLY BIG bag with you and see how much of his office supplies you can fit in there.

Gigi said...

I'm sure your grandmother had a use for those ashes....and you should probably just be glad you don't know.

Yeah...my mom would do the smoke in the ears thing too - before breaking out the hot medicine!

Julianna said...

I have also heard the smoke thing. Never tried it though. I do know that the tobacco in an unsmoked ciggarette kills germs on a wound. But then you'd likely need niccotene for life, having it directly fed into your blood like that. :)

And stress is always the answer. Unless you're me. In that case, it was sugar. Sadly I had to eliminate all refined sugar, high carb foods, and caffine.

Yeah. I'm real fun to be around now.

Far Side of Fifty said...

My grandma blew smoke in my ears all the time when I was little..I guess it calmed me down, I was prone to ear infections. It was most likely the warm air!

My husband panics if he hasn't pooped by noon..and then gets real cranky.

Negative tests are good..stress can be a real booger:(

Steadfast Ahoy! said...

Since our home reno last fall, I have to keep reminding myself that there is a bathroom within easy reach now. I keep finding myself putting off going because of the hike up the stairs. You'd think I was an old granny or something!

I once had a doctor tell me that clinical complaints mean more than test results. If it still hurts, there's still something wrong. Just saying.....
Rosemary

HermanTurnip said...

I always thought the Q-Tips and tongue depressors were complimentary, kinda like the mint on the pillow and the car parked next to my house.

darlin said...

I'm glad to hear about your negative results. Stress related the doc says, take up smoking like grandma did. ;-)

Rudee said...

Your family cures are the same as ours. Fancy that. And your first statement? Not being able to poop IS definitely the root of all evil.

Glad your tests are negative.

Belle said...

I'm glad your tests were negative. Who knows if he is right about the stress? Very possible although that is their favorite back-up when they don't know what to do. I still say go to a naturopath. Okay, I won't say it again!

Going to the bathroom is a pain in the ass. (groan)I hate that in my fifties I started peeing my pants. Believe me, I don't wait to go pee any more.

IndigoWrath said...

Emptiness is next to Goodliness. Wisdom.

Tempo said...

Stress? living in the big city...commuting by bus with all those nutters...cant be!

The Jules said...

Oh Pearly, hope you're not suffering too much.

And maybe your grandmother was thinking of drowning, and just getting her orifices confused: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobacco_smoke_enema

Healthy, non-stressy thoughts winging their way towards you, although there's a bit of a queue over the Atlantic at the mo. AAGH!

jabblog said...

Consult another doctor!

KAT said...

Glad your tests were negative. My father-in-law once blew smoke in my ear for the worst earache I ever had. I went into labor that night and gave birth to my son the next day, 2 weeks late. Think the smoke had magic powers? :D