Have a Marlis Day!

Archive for March 2016

meds

When I was a child, medicine hurt. Scrapes and cuts were first rinsed with alcohol, then dabbed with merthiolate. In case you’re not familiar with this dark red antiseptic containing mercury and sodium, which has since been banned by the FDA, it burned like Hades! If that didn’t do the trick parents and teachers dabbed the wound with iodine, also pain intensive. Even oral medicine was so putrid, I wept each time it was poured into the tablespoon for my strep throat. In a brave effort to comfort me, my grandpa said “Oh, it can’t be that awful” and took a swig from the bottle. His eyebrows hit his hairline and I swear I saw smoke blast from his ears. Once my small cousin was the unfortunate victim of a “finger in the car door” incident. I still shudder as her grandmother and mine insisted that she dip it into a jug of turpentine. “The best thing for smashed fingers,” they said in unison. It took a thousand pounds of grandmas and aunts to hold little Cheryl down for the finger treatment. But it did no good to fight the system; they were big – we were little. Today, a child’s cut or scrape is sprayed with first aid mist, which they find cool and soothing. Then a happy band-aid is applied. Of course it doesn’t hurt when taken off, in contrast to ours which took skin with it. And splinters in bare feet. What kid doesn’t remember thrashing about the bed while her dad, with a firm grasp on her ankle, dug into the bottom of her foot with a needle? Today when kids get splinters, adults agree: just leave it alone; it’ll work itself out. It was scary to be a kid in my day.

A loose tooth? Just tie it to a string and fasten it to a door knob. Slam the door and she won’t feel a thing. Yeah, right. My dentist wouldn’t even use Novocain when he drilled our teeth. “It’s not so bad,” the adults said. “Just for extractions” said the masochistic dentist,  who looked a lot like depictions of Satan. When a child choked on a fish bone at our family’s annual fish fry, the adults forced the child to eat several slices of white bread to “push it down.” Once that didn’t work and little Larry was flopped screaming onto the tabletop, his mouth held open while someone probed his throat with tweezers for the offending bone. I didn’t eat fish for twenty years. There was even a time when burns were thought to be best treated with hot water – as hot as you can stand. Oh, the pain. Now a splashy cold bath for a child’s burn. I’m glad times have changed. No wonder all kids thought of running off and joining a circus in my day. I won’t even get into corporal punishment and how every adult had the right to whack us, no questions asked. In fact, if your parents found out, you got it again. We came through childhood and I suppose it  made us tougher. I developed a slight stutter, while a lot of my friends chewed their fingernails or wet their beds. But we made it and have mountains of happy memories. But I’ll always ask: What was with the pain??

 

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