Most families have their own home-health-care remedies they employ before resorting to calling the doctor. Some rely on
chicken soup and orange juice, while others turn to vaporizers and vitamins. Then again, others go directly to the emergency
room for a hangnail.
My parents' home cure-all was to gargle with warm salt water.
It didn't matter what your symptoms were; the remedy was always the same.
Chest cold? Gargle with warm salt water.
Sore throat? Gargle with warm salt water.
Third eye growing out of your chin? Gargle with warm salt water.
It must have been an effective treatment, as the number of times we went to the doctor was so few as to be memorable.
Once as a teen, I had a cold for several weeks (and had been gargling with warm salt water, but only in a half-hearted manner,
and sometimes completely omitting the salt), and was taken to see the doctor.
Although I felt rotten, a part of me felt good about having an illness that defied the powers of warm salt water. I knew it would
be something rare and exotic with a hard to pronounce name that would leave people shaking their heads saying, "And to think
she still managed to be secretary of the pep club."
The doctor clicked his little flashlight on, shined it in my throat, clicked it off and said, "The best thing for you to do is gargle
with warm salt water."
My father smiled all the way home. Tell me that wasn't a conspiracy.
In my sister-in-law's family, the standard home remedy was: "What you need is some fresh air."
She grew up with five brothers and two sisters, so sending a kid outside probably did as much for her mom and dad's health
and well being as it did for the kid.
My grandfather's standby was, "Slap a Band-Aid on it." This worked well for general cuts and bruises, but lost effectiveness
for things like blurred vision and broken bones. Even Band-Aids have their limitations.
Many other families relied on the old "take an aspirin and go lie down." That's a tough one to use today as (a) you don't
give aspirin to kids, (b) you can't just take anything. You have to decide if it's a muscle ache that calls for ibuprofen or plain
pain that calls for acetaminophen. Aspirin isn't the cure-all it used to be.
I thought I had heard all the standards until the husband, who is not a doctor in real life and has never even played one on
television, came up with a new remedy, which he believes will fix anything that ails you. Milk.
Headache: "When was the last time you drank any milk?"
Daughter calls home from college with question about housing contact: "Does it include milk?"
Alan Greenspan steps down as chairman of the Federal Reserve: "That's what happens when you don't drink milk."
I was ready to dismiss his new cure-all, but I opened the paper and there was a story on the benefits of milk related to
bone growth. I turned on the news and there was a segment on milk aiding weight loss. I turned on the radio and the health
spotlight was about you guessed it milk.
What are the chances? Two conspiracies in one lifetime.