Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #11: Home Remedies?

Thirteen Things about Home Remedies I've Used

I just spent the last week and a half with "The RhinoVirus from Hell." Hence, no TT last week. I was teaching that Thursday morning/afternoon, thinking it was all but gone (after three days of the stuff). But then I came home, felt instantly exhausted, went to bed, and woke up three hours later with a fever and the chills.

I still haven't kicked it out of me completely, only farther up into my sinuses it seems like. So today I was thinking that I actually had a moment, and I could breathe properly, and it was Thursday, so, what the hay, I'll write a blog! And since I was just so darn grateful to be able to breathe, I started writing about that.

Well that turned into a diatribe of home remedies from my childhood and I hadn't even started anything that looked like a list yet, so I decided to put all the remedies and their accompanying stories in list form. I used a piece of paper to jot some down and got up to nine, so bear with me. Even I don't know yet if this is going to get to thirteen or not! I'll give it the ol' college try though!

Oh, you want to know where this penchant for the mundane came from? Well, in a family full of nurses and "health-nuts" and chiropractor visitors, we were all about the diagnosis, the prognosis, and the best remedies God, Mother Nature, the Pantry, or the Medicine Cabinet had to offer. You could say it is a bit of a family tradition.
  1. Flat gingerale and dry toast. Sometimes it was fun to get sick. I mean, I have always, always, always loved ginger ale, but soda wasn't something I could have just any old day. In fact, the bottle of ginger ale was usually around for mixing into cocktails on very special occasions. But if I got sick to my stomach, I knew that once I stopped vomiting profusely, the ginger ale would follow. (I didn't HAVE to throw up to get it, mind you, but if I did, it was always a consolation in mid-heave to think about warm ginger ale--yep, flat and warm and I still loved the stuff!) These days, I drink extra ginger, ginger beer when I'm sick and it always makes me feel happy, even if I don't have a tummyache!

  2. Vicks Vaporub--on my chest, neck, upper lip, inside my nostrils, and even a little spot on my pillow case to sniff, just because I loved that stuff. I've always been a sucker for an upper respiratory virus it seems, and the Vicks would come out right away so that I could breathe enough to get to sleep at night because nobody likes to be up all night with a whiny, sick kid. Those were the days before OTC decongestants remember. To this day, the smell of Vicks just makes me feel safe.

  3. The Misting Humidifier. Another one of those magical remedy machines of old. Sure they still sell them at the pharmacy superstores, but does anyone use them for anything other than babies or older folks? Perhaps. I had one for a little while when the kids were little, but I guess they just weren't as sick as I seemed to be. (This list is making me see what a little sick kid I really was!! Good memories surrounding regular illnesses? No wonder I'm so weird!) Did I mention that the white noise of the thing was so wonderfully soothing? Yep. Weirdo.

  4. Peroxide and Mercurochrome. Ok, so on to the injuries for a while. I was a wild urchin of a child. By that I mean that I spent any inside time watching Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, or The Lone Ranger, or Grizzly Adams, or Rin Tin Tin, or Tarzan episodes, so that the REST of the time, when I was outside, I was in a state of Zen. I was one with Nature. I was in the sandbox, in the trees, hanging upside down from the swingset (and regularly knocking the wind out of my lungs when I would inevitably fall because I swung too far out), exploring in the woods, eating the local fruit (blackberries, grapes, crab apples, beans and carrots from the garden, you name it), and even--do I dare say it?--following the "call of nature" rather than have to go inside (mostly because I had a lot of room to explore and I always waited until the last second and just couldn't make it back in time!). So yeah, all that to say that I got my fair share--and then some--of cuts, scrapes, bruises, and scratches. Three out of four of those required peroxide first (loved the bubbles...) and then, if I were really hurt, the red stuff. Man I loved to be really hurt! The red stuff was like war paint. Bandaids schmandades! (And whose idea was it to make mercurochrome CLEAR??!! It's totally ruined now. I guess it must have had some horribly toxic red dye in it or something. Figures.)

  5. I am stuck on Bandaids, cuz they frickin' stick on me! How cool is THAT?? Ok, so I liked me some bandaids too. This was war paint you could wear acceptably to school. And what kid isn't facinated with tape? COME ON! So something that sticks to you? Sweet. And I didn't get any of those fancy Disney character bandaids. Nope. Plain old bandaids. (Maybe Scooby Doo snuck in eventually, but maybe that was at a friend's house) And I always wanted to try the round bqndaids, but there were only a few, and it seemed like Gram always horded them "just in case." Because you know, nobody ever seemed to have a booboo that those worked on. Never. And so, I kid you not, when I was old enough to buy my own bandaids, I bought the pack with the round ones and used them the first chance I could. They didn't stick very well though. Live and learn.

  6. Butterfly Bandages. We've got us a theme going now! These were THE COOLEST bandaids of them all. If you had to have one of these puppies put on your booboo, you had a wound, ok? I think I had an obsession with being wounded. (Hey, in my family, it was an acceptable way to get sympathy and attention. If anything were wrong emotionally, well, sorry Charlie, go get yourself a good scrape and then we'll talk!) So the story is...I had this horse on springs. You know, the "hobby horse" I believe they called it. And it was a big contraption, and it was noisy and annoying to grown-ups (and probably came from my dad...just kidding), so it had to go outside on the patio. Well, it was exposed to the elements, and all the springs got rusty, and finally, one broke. I am here to tell you that a three-springed hobby horse is still a lot of fun; until your mother gets a bright idea to ride WITH you on it. Ok, picture this CPS agents. Mom's on, facing front, "riding" normally. I'm on behind her, facing backwards so that if I do fall off, which, we all pretty much figured I think, I can slide off and land on my feet. One problem. The broken spring is in the back. So off I slide, as we are all laughing and hooting (because it just wouldn't be dangerous fun if the whole family weren't involved--aunts and grandparents and all!) and I feel something hot on my leg, but I'm still laughing. Then I feel wet on my leg and look down. I AM BLEEDING like nobody's business. Well don't all the nurses on the floor react like, get her inside "Stat!" So then we can't stop the bleeding and the peroxide bubbles run pink for what seems like forever and people start whispering something about "stitches," which makes me freak out. "Fix me here," I plead. So then Gram says something solemnly about "butterfly bandages," and I'm yepling, "Yes! Please! Butterfly bandages!" having no earthly idea what that means but, knowing how beautiful butterflies are, it HAS to be good. Well, long story long story, the bleeding relented, the butterfly bandages held, and I still have a half inch wide scar on my right calf and a story that makes my mother cringe to this day. (No need to tell you the second butterfly bandage story here.)

  7. The wild and wacky, the miraculous, the all-purpose Ace Bandage. Notice by now that we didn't have off brand items either. This was back in the day when Bayer meant aspirin and Tylenol hadn't been invented yet--ok, well at least not offered to the general public anyway. So ACE Bandage it was. Now it's something like brown, stretchy bandage I guess, but then, it was Ace, and that meant something. The Ace Bandage was like Vicks. It was a source of comfort in an otherwise uncomfortable emotional landscape. So, I pit myself against the physical landscape, and how, and often came out with more than just a bruised ego. I think my grandmother understood this relationship between me and the Ace Bandage, but my mother was not as willing to hand it over any time I said ouch. She was always worried that I would lose the little metal thingies that held the loose end on. I can't blame her. I'm always at least one short to this day. But hey, I'm all about if this little bandage makes you feel better then go for it sweetheart. Ouch I twisted my ankle jumping off the big rocks in the backyard; I need the Ace Bandage. Ouch I hurt my wrist hanging off the swingset; I need the Ace Bandage. Owww, my knee is bruised and sore from falling off my bike on the sidewalk; I need the Ace bandage. Oh, how I love Thee, Ace Bandage!

  8. The Homemade Splint. I REALLY am starting to feel like I was more of a "tomboy" than I ever thought. Like I said, I was Nature's Child. If I was not outside running around until my cheeks were red and I was salty and sticky, then I was miserable. I think this is why I always have had such trouble sitting still to read books, and why, out of everything else I've ever done, I have stuck with my dance lessons for so long (I know, a year, but STILL, this is ME we're talking about here, people!). I just LOVE LOVE LOVE to be on the go. And, apparently, at one time in my life, I was fearless. Gosh I miss those days. So, what happens when I get stuck in the house with all that energy? Well, if I couldn't have the card table to build a fort, or go play "Cherries Are Ripe" on the piano for an hour, then I would just have to jump off of the couch until I hurt myself. And oh, let me tell you, I did not get much sympathy for this one because NOBODY liked it that I jumped off the couch (it's like tape like to fly through the air to feel how cool it is to get "up high" again), so when it looked like I might have sprained my pinky finger, all the screaming in the world wasn't going to save me from the "now maybe you'll stop jumping off the couch" lecture. There were pained expressions and whispers of "x-rays" and "expensive" and "what if it's nothing and she's just making all that noise for attention." So I got the homemade splint. Colored toothpicks all the way around, held securely against the finger with first aid tape. Too cool. And no, I didn't need an x-ray. In fact, it didn't hurt after a few hours, but since it had been such a big deal, I was afraid to say anything until about 24 hours later. But 30 years later, when my daughter actually DID break her pinky finger (volleyball, not couch jumping), I was the mom who put a tongue depressor splint on her finger and sent her to school the next day. (Hey, in my defense, it didn't LOOK know, blue, swollen, throbbing, ouch ouch ouch all the time. That took a day to happen. Gosh I felt horrible. Kinda erased the whole hobby horse story, huh? CPS agents, are you still reading?)

  9. Teabags and Clay Masque. Let's go back to the more calm and gentle stuff, shall we? Teabags and clay masque are useful when you have something under your skin that you would like to draw OUT of your skin. In other words, a foreign object of sorts. Usually accompanied by pain, redness, and swelling. Like a huge pimple with no head in sight. Or a wasp's stinger. Or an ingrown pubic hair (Ew!). Or what you think is a huge pimple with no head, but what actually turns out to be a sebacious cyst that finally gets infected and grows to a ginormous size and hardens from all the evil bacteria and pus inside of it. That requires surgery because you kept applying mask and teabags just knowing that any day now they will work their magic. That leaves a ginormous scar on the only part of your body visible in a bathing suit that, until now, did NOT have a scar on it. So large and ugly of a scar, in fact, that you, who never even considered getting a tattoo, see before and after pictures of a woman who had a tattoo put over her tummy scar, so you start picking out one for your back. The moral of this story is, try the teabags and masque for a few days, and then go see a dermatologist. STAT!

  10. Saline Sinus Flush: Makeshift, Neti pot, or the Anti-Gravity Kind. I didn't know what a Neti pot was when I put salt in a plastic party cup, got in the shower, filled it with warm water, and poured it into my nostrils until it came out the other side and/or went down the back of my throat (no swallowing of course). It's the Texas Rhinovirus from Hades that made me do it I tell you. I'd never been so overwhelmed with mucous and sinus pressure in my entire life--and then again this past week of course. This time, I got the anti-gravity flush and used that. Ahhhhhhhhh. Basically it's a squeeze bottle with a hole in the top and a "straw" sticking into the bottle so that you can slowly squirt nice warm salt water (salt packets included) over your raging sinuses and clear them out without blowing your nose off. Twice a day is recommended. In the throes of the mucous, I sometimes did it once in the middle of the day as well. Works like a champ, as my husband would say.

  11. Two B's, Two C's, Two Cal-Mags, and an E (and sometimes a Zinc). This was the Shaklee-inspired mantra for combating the common cold. My mother got on the "natural health" bandwagon when I was still in elementary school, so there have been vitamin supplements in my world for almost as long as I can remember. Gone were the Vicks and humidifier remedies of my early childhood. Now it was up to the vitamins and forced fluids and the avoidance of dairy and wheat to cure us of the common ailments that keep OTC drug companies in business. Us, well, we kept Shaklee in business. The nice thing is that Shaklee was the all-natural solution. Back before anyone really spoke of organic food and even before "health food" became a nationwide sensation, we were walking hand in hand with Shaklee's organic vitamins, minerals, makeup, detergents, cleaners and various and sundry other items. I was the only person I knew who took Calcium-Magnesium for menstrual cramps rather than Midol or some other thing. Thanks Mom! =)

  12. Parsley and Candida Cleanse. Ok, so we've kind of grown up here and now the scrapes of the little tomboy have evolved into the yeast issues of the grown woman. But I'm not just talking about the kind of issue that everyone is probably thinking right now. I'm talking about recurring urinary tract infections or a sluggish loss of weight (the plateaus so many women find themselves upon in the battle against extra pounds for instance). Some urinary tract infections can actually be cause by an overgrowth of yeast. With a little intuition and some internet research, I figured out that was what was happening to me (accompanied by mild dehydration from the Texas weather) and I went to my favorite health food store and got some parsley extract and the two week Candida Cleanse (Gaia Herbs) and I haven't had a problem since. As mentioned, yeast overgrowth can also keep people from losing weight AND can CAUSE intense cravings for sweets (those little buggers can actually make you crave the food they crave!). And I'm not talking about the yeast overgrowth that is female in nature and obvious. I'm talking in your gut. One of the surest signs is the intense craving for sweets, even when your willpower says you really don't want them. I mean, some of us have sugar "habits," but if you have a combination of symptoms, and wicked, wicked cravings, it might just be the yeasty beasties! (Check it out online!)

  13. Traditional Medicinal Teas. These are just lovely. When I used to smoke, I always had a box of "Breathe Easy" on hand. It's great for the upper respiratory crud too. It tastes good plain AND has noticeable effects on your breathing health. The others I have right now are "Daily Detox," for the liver and all those "toxins" everybody is always talking about; "Throat Coat," for the sore, scratchy throats in the world...soooooo soooooothing!; and "Ginger Aid," for the tummy, better digestion (or to soothe indigestion), or just for the cleansing properties of's GREAT for you! The best way to make it is in a big Eeyore mug (ok, you can pick what's on your mug) and let it steep, covered (I use a salad plate or a saucer), for a full ten minutes. I even leave the bag in until I'm done. And don't add anything except maybe a little raw, local honey. Yummmm!

Wow! I'm always amazed when I get to the end of my Thursday Thirteen lists. Thirteen is A LOT! And thanks for reading all the way to this point by the way because, wowsers, that one was a doozey, huh? I'd love to hear from you--anything from a "hey" to a "here's my favorite home remedy!"

Have a great week! Kiss the booboos and stay healthy y'all!

Muah! =)

© Nicole J. Williams, 2008, all rights reserved.

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Camellia said...

Now wasn't this fun? WE ATE VICKS VAPORUB. And also we rubbed dirt in our wounds so we could bubble the peroxide better! And my aunt still laughs because I was upset when her kids broke the thermometer. "How will we know we are sick?" I asked. Speaking of which...we used to roll that mercury when the thermometer broke. Back in the days when you could do such things.

Camellia said...

And oh, yeah, can cure anything. I've heard it dries up poison ivy.

Bubba said...

I agree. Funny stuff! I'd be curious to know if you had a guy, I don't know what I would've done with a sister like you!

Great TT...thanks for sharing!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

I subscribed to this blog. I wouldn't miss it for the world. Wanted to tell you, I spooned Coca Cola syrup into my kids when they had upset stomachs. Not the drink, the syrup. Because so few drugstores have soda fountains any more, we just asked the phramacist for it. He (back those days they were always he's) always had some. And it always seemed to work. If memory servies.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Award-winning author of This Is the Place,

MomOnTheGo said...

Great list! I agree with the flat gingerale as a benefit to being sick and putting on Vicks makes me feel my mother's love. When I had my wisdom teeth pulled, I poured cold water over a tea bag and used it instead of gauze on the part of my mouth where the tea used to be. The wetness felt good on my gums and the dripping tea cleared the taste of blood from my throat.

Rims said...

I really loved your home remedies Vicks and Bandaids and me were inseperables...

Thanks for sharing
Happy TT!

Nicole said...

Yeah, Vicks; it does a body good! =)

Oh and poison ivy! I was overly sensitive to it and had that ALL. THE. TIME. I had thought of the Rhuligel(?) and the famous pink Calamine lotion! OMG.

I really WAS some kind of ailing kid.

And yes, I knew how to shake down a thermometer by the time I was five. And I think we broke a few doing the shaking, as I recall!

Thanks for stopping by y'all! =)

Nicole said...

Hey Bubba! Maybe THAT'S what it siblings. I was a lonely only out there trying to keep myself occupied and coming home to get as much attention as possible. I guess it seems like an oxymoron for an only child to not get enough attention, but when there's nobody to play with all day, and then the adults are, well, adults, and STILL don't realize your a kid and have different needs? Dunno. It's not like the NEVER paid attention to me, but I was a good kid, albeit accident-prone (?), so I was left to my own devices a heck of a lot. got me thinking! =)

SwordMama said...

I always take some echinacea capsules to prevent sickness, and if I'm sick I like to drink the echinacea tea. Love the vapo rubs too! Great list! :-)

Mrs. G. said...

I've noticed in improvement in my PMS since I started taking Women's Essentil oil. I put in capsules, because I am a wuss.

Catherine said...

Thanks, this is great info! I love that you've looked into the Shaklee products and that you have an informed opinion about them. Thanks so much for sharing! There’s some additional great info on vitamins and health in general on the Very Healthy Life website. And honestly, I've done lost of research as well and Shaklee really does have the best multi-vitamins out there.