“Lemme string you a poultice, rub some liniment on you, and get you some Ibuprofen,” said no grandma, ever. I’m all for homeopathy. I avoid pharmaceuticals whenever possible, and I’m glad that it’s become trendy to look for the most natural solutions to the problems that plague our bodies. For some time now, I’ve wondered what kind of wisdom our grandmothers take when they go, and I’ve guessed that homeopathic apothecary skills, or kitchen witchery, might be among them.
If you’ve ever had a grandmother, then you’ve probably, at some point in your life, been accosted with potent liniments, ointments, salves, balms or perhaps even herbal poultices. Grandmothers have a “cream” for everything that plagues you. Grandmothers have sweet oil for earaches, clove oil for toothaches, and tea tree oil for dry scalp. Grandmothers believe at least half of all the afflictions of youth can be cured by a soak in vinegar, Epsom salts, or oatmeal; and if you’ve got a poor attitude to go with your problems, maybe you need to chop some firewood or polish some pots as well.
If you get a cold around a grandmother, she’ll coat your chest in Vick’s. She’ll make you strip down to your skivvies and put a hot water bottle or a salt sock in your bed. You might even be subjected to a healing necklace. She might soak some thread in mentholated oil and use it to sew up cloves of garlic and star anise that wind around your neck, so that even though you don’t want to, you’ll be forced to breathe it all in. She’ll bring you some chicken soup after.
Got a fever with that cold? No problem. Grandma will fix you a hot toddy. After a hot toddy, you won’t mind that poultice so much — or anything else, for that matter.
You might get warm milk or lemon balm for insomnia. Ginger ale for the upset stomach and aloe vera for the sunburn are inevitably helpful. She’ll make you a cuppa tea with honey and lemon for a cough. Or maybe, if your grandmother is really old, and really thrifty, you could get some of this..
Grandmother cures are specific. Grandmothers know that not every ill requires the same fix.
The United States Army is not your grandma. That is why, as a soldier, every single trip to the medical clinic will result in being given Ibuprofen. Initially, I thought my husband’s pulled muscle must have been extremely painful, since he came home with ninety tablets of 800IB. But then, several months later, I wondered why they gave him another ninety 800IB for his allergies…I mean, they gave him allergy meds, too. But always, always, always with the 800IB; for strep, for ear infections, for slipped disc, for pink eye.
I’ve come to the conclusion that regardless of what plagues a soldier, the Army docs believe 800IB will cure it. Or, perhaps they are required to dispense it, as someone somewhere has succumbed to the lowest bid from the world’s cheapest Ibuprofen manufacturer and they have got to get it all out before it expires? *shrugs*
“I see you have a torque wrench severing your carotid artery. Here’s some Ibuprofen.”
And it will invariably be ninety pills. With a follow-up in two weeks. That’s…(math is hard) about six pills a day in the interim.
It’s quirky. I’m just sayin.