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Saturday, December 29, 2012

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?

35 comments:

Lin said...

OMG. My husband does this. When the kids would complain of an ailment, my husband would ask them "Do you go poop?" Ugh. We still laugh about it.

Although....there is nothing like a good poop....(sorry, I had to say that)

Glad to hear that your tests came back good. I think the entire world needs to work on reducing stress. I know I am going to make that a focus in 2013. (Crap! Is that THIS week already???!)This is my start: #1: going back to swimming a few times a week. That helps. #2. quit worrying/thinking/talking about work--work stuff does not matter in the real world. What happens at work...stays at work. Period. The end.

Wishing you a Happy New Year, Pearl!

vanilla said...

Glad the tests are negative. Would have hoped that writing this column would relieve the stress sufficiently to rule that out? Or is that another stress-inducer? Nah.

Eva Gallant said...

Glad to hear those test results. Take care. And be careful where you blow smoke!

Far Side of Fifty said...

I would never have survived childhood without smoke being blown into my ears..my Grandmother did it for me.
Funny..I ask my girls the same thing when they complain of headaches..not pooping will do that to you. Happy New Year Pearl:)

fmcgmccllc said...

Gotta say the smoke in the ears works as a temporary fix til you can get yourself to the doctor or the toilet. Good about the tests and I did not even know you were having them, else I would have worried.

Huntress said...

Yay, on the negative tests! Er, I could say 'what tests' but that's a bit cold.

Anyway, hi five.

My mother-in-law had a diagnosis for every ailment...worms. "He's wormy" or "maybe he needs a dose of worm medicine".

I saw my chance one day when her grandkid had a ear ache. As I joke, I said, "It's probably worms."
She gasped and readily agreed.

The Retired One said...

Oh yes, I can relate...you should hear all the Finnish remedies my dad used to believe in. By the way..if you want to cure cancer, stomach remedies and any thing else bothering you, boil up some U.P. blueberries and squash them and drink the juice. I wonder if wine qualifies??

Joanne Noragon said...

My friend's father blew smoke in her ear, too. Sadly he died of lung cancer before he could retire.

Jacquelineand.... said...

Glad the tests came back negative but not having an answer can be darn frustrating as well!

Blowing smoke in the ear? I wish my Granny had known that one...MUCH preferable to her 'sovereign remedy'.

ellen abbott said...

omg! I'm not the only one who almost wets their pants at home!

so I guess I missed the post about medical tests. glad they all came up negative.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

I wonder if blowing smoke in my husbands ear would cure him....nah....it would just come out the other ear. Total waste of time.
Glad those tests were clear. Stress huh? Yeah.....more than likely.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Hey...I just had a thought. (unusual, I know) Get your doctor to write a prescription for two months stress leave. Two months off work with pay should get you well started on another book.

jenny_o said...

Waiting til the last minute to go potty is just good training against future incontinence. That's how I see it anyway.

Medical tests, hmmm? You should have stolen the tongue depressors as well. They make good popsicle sticks. Popsicles are good for curing everything.

Ms Sparrow said...

OMG! You mentioned lemon bars again and I just finished off the Christmas cookies! If stress is what's ailing you, I wish you a relaxing and contented New Year with lots of love from family, friends and your huge blogger following. (Now I just have to get thoughts of lemon bars out of my head.)

Macy said...

New golden rule for good health. Wise Scot say Never, ever, ever google symptoms. You need to trust me on this, and the doctors with their negative results.

PS Cigarette ash is great for getting water marks off of varnished wood. Really....

Macy said...

Oh and high five on the negatives!

Ruth said...

My husband's grandma swore by blowing smoke in the kid's ears. My husband always said it made his ears hurt worse.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Pearl, I hope you find some good ways to de-stress (meditation? more yoga? massage? something completely new and different?) and I hope you feel better soon. As for smoke, my grandmother blew smoke at her African violets. Maybe it discouraged mites, but even when I was only 3 or 4 I didn't see how it would help the plants themselves.

sage said...

If you're really good, like Blackbeard (the pirate guy) you could blow smoke out your ears and save your grandma the trouble.

Glad to hear the good news on your tests, Pearl.

Juli said...

I still use baking soda on bee stings for the kids... for me it's a trip to the ER. And I have also heard the smoke in the ear thing.

As for the no potty break rule... I think it's a mom thing. Seriously, have you ever tried to pee with little kids in the house... mine knew how to pick the lock when there were 3! No wonder I'd hold it until they had both gone to bed... a girl's gotta be able to pee in peace.

Misfit Mommy (aka the Antichrist) said...

My grandmother did the smoke in the ear for me, right along with meat tenderizer for wasp and bee stings. Yellow mustard on a sunburn did wonders. Mentholatum on the temples to relieve headaches, and many more that I can't think of right now.

Glad to hear that test results came back clear. Don't discount the stress issue. I was recently ordered to take a vacation, due to it, by my counselor. It has yet to happen, and doesn't look like it will in the foreseeable future.

Gigi said...

Ah yes, the smoke in the ear; an oldie but a goody.

How did I not know about these tests? But am glad to hear they were negative. Stress - the things it will do to a body.

Daisy said...

Mary comes with lemon bars? Wow, she really is a friend worth keeping around! :D

Glad to hear the medical tests were negative.

River said...

Glad to hear your test results are negative. The fact that you have 30 reasons why you aren't stressed indicates that you've thought up many excuses for things that stress you, so I would say follow the doctor's advice and try to destress. Not easy, I suppose.

jeanie said...

You put some ash in a glass of water and drink it to cure stomach upset - according to a West African friend of mine.

You're welcome.

Rose L said...

If we ever complained of a headache or tummy ache or anything, my father's mother used to have one suggestion--give 'em an enema.
My dad never followed her advice as he remembered how awful it was when he was a child. Grandma believed in daily enemas.

Jen said...

I believe some Native American tribes blow smoke on things & people to purify or sanctify them. Maybe it does something we don't know about. Easier to trust modern medicine, of course, but then they don't know everything either.

This is the first I've heard of the tests. I just sorry you've been feeling bad enough to need tests! I do hope it resolves itself.

Tempo said...

But Pearl, surely you Americans know the use for Cigarette ash? You take a small amount of it from the ashtray (two cigs worth) and put it under your tongue. Tastes terrible so you hold it as long as you can before spitting it out. Half an hour later youre shaking, white as a ghost and have a high temperature. Perfect for getting out of work or school...

the walking man said...

Take a lot of Vicodin and you won't need to poop don't drink anything and you won't have to pee but not smoking..shit while you're in the bathroom you may as well, seeing as how you're sitting on the ashtray anyhow.

At work though spin your head around twice and pee on the floor and no one will ever bother you with a spreadsheet on your way to the washroom again.

Paula Wooters said...

After all those years of my mom asking me if I had to poop every time I had a stomach ache, I confess I now ask the kids at school the same question every time they say their stomach hurts. Go figure. Of course, they don't let us smoke in school, so the whole earache thing is out of the question...

Daisy said...

I've used, or been afflicted with, all these remedies in childhood. The smoke for earache relief however, must be a White Owl cigar, Do they still make them? On a more serious side, having worked in a hospital I confirm that a good poop is a sign that things are working as they should!
Daisy's Barbara

Linda O'Connell said...

hahahaha ... "Did you go poop?" My mom's answeto everything was SLEEP.

Jo-Anne Meadows said...

Ok I can remember being asked if I had pooped when I was a child and would complaing of a belly ache.... also I hate it when I am told that the reason I feel like shit is because of stress.......or when all the tests are normal so it must be stress or all in my head because the tests are normal so I must not have anything wrong with me.........

The Elephant's Child said...

Good news and bad about the test results. It would be wonderful to have a clean bill of health if you felt healthy. Blaming it on stress, the invisible elephant in the room is frustrating. I so hope you feel better soon.

Pat said...

I totally believe that headaches and constipation go together and also never miss an opportunity to use a loo. Unless they are public - which I abhor - so have to tie myself inknots.