The Prairie Spy: When the remedies are worse than the ailments
Every Sunday now, I cannot resist looking at the paper and checking out the latest flu map - you know, the one that shows where it is hitting the hardest. At the moment, Minnesota seems to be kind of in the middle, numbers-wise.
Every Sunday now, I cannot resist looking at the paper and checking out the latest flu map – you know, the one that shows where it is hitting the hardest. At the moment, Minnesota seems to be kind of in the middle, numbers-wise.
Anyone I talk to says they hate to go into a clinic with any other ailment because there are a lot of people in there who are really sick (as in really sick). There’s something wrong with feeling you’re not sick enough to be really sick, although I cannot exactly pin it down.
Maybe it’s like my dad used to say: “You think you don’t feel good? Go on up into the silo and try and get some of that frozen silage away from the concrete wall. You’ll feel better now.”
The winter silo was my job, and the silage froze really hard to the wall, making it a pickaxe deal to get loose. That was my job, from the time I was about 12, until I went off to college. Even now, I compare how I feel to how that frozen silage made me feel. I have to be pretty sick before thinking about it makes me feel better.
When I first met My True Love, and we got to talking, I asked her about a cute little scar on her neck, and she said she got it when doctors lanced a swollen sarcoidoma or something. Anyway, the swollen whatever was the result of having had the flu when she was young.
“Exactly what year was that?” I asked her.
It turned out that it was the same year I had the flu, back in about 1966, more or less. I remember because I was ill enough that Doc Walker came out from town to see about me, make sure I was going to live.
I remember a week full of mustard plasters, and the doctor coming out, but I was young, about 12 or 13, and didn’t know about “not” making it, so I just figured the worst of it was the mustard plasters.
Anyway, My True Love and I were both victims that year of a flu epidemic.
At the time, I considered myself more the victim of Ma’s mustard plasters than of the flu. As I remember those mustard plasters, they were soft cotton towels soaked with mustard and baked in the oven to skin-searing temperatures, at which point they were slapped onto my chest and held there while I squirmed and hollered. The best I can figure is that if the mustard plasters didn’t kill you, then you were tough enough to beat the flu, which apparently made me feel worse but Ma feel better.
Be that as it may, the mustard plasters were nothing compared to Dad’s goose feather remedy for a sore throat. After one of those treatments, one had to be really, really unable to hardly breathe before complaining about a sore throat. Dad would get out the iodine and the feather, you’d say “Ahhh,” and as quick as a wink, Dad would dip the feather in the iodine and use it to coat your throat.
The gag reflex is really something, isn’t it? This goose feather method left you gagging and spitting and in general believing that you had finally found something really, really worse than that darned silo and its frozen, un-chippable silage.
Which you still had to do after you survived goose feathers and mustard plasters.
I’ve kind of got a virus right now, and just thinking about that silo and its frozen silage and having to climb up there in the freezing cold is making me feel a little bit better.