Living Columns & Blogs

Gazette Sea Foam: Sick kids today have it easier than we did

Thanks to Michael McNally of Callawassie Island for sharing an essay appropriate for this time of year.

"Here is a short article I wrote that was inspired by 'getting over' a recent winter cold," he writes. "I hope you enjoy it and perhaps the Gazette readers will, too."

'Coming down with it' and 'getting over it'

By Michael McNally

When I was a kid growing up in the 1940s, dealing with what now is the flu or a cold was not as simple as it is today when you simply get a flu shot or take a few over-the-counter remedies and wait a few days to recover.

Childhood colds, fevers, upset stomachs, diseases, discomforts and other aches and pains really aren't what they used to be. Now they even go by modern names as though these things never existed before.

Now a child gets the flu. This moniker seems to cover about 90 percent of all ailments. When I was a kid, we really got sick: the mumps, chicken pox, the measles, and to a lesser severity, roseola. Most of us got tonsillitis and had them removed along with the adenoids, whatever they are. Some of these things earned a yellow sign with black letters on our front door: "QUARANTINED."

We just didn't get a cold or the modern flu, we "came down" with the GRIP; no one today even knows what that was, it doesn't exist anymore. Or we came down with the CROUP, and I say we "came down with it" as though it were always just below us and we "came down" to it for a brief visit. After a while, and a lot of suffering along with generous applications of home remedies, we would rise up, gain a little altitude with our bodily health and "get over it." Yes, there we were. It was still there, but, it was below us again ... we were "over it."

And so it went. There were also serious things, such as polio, Saint Vitas' Dance, scarlet fever and whooping cough, or consumption. I got impetigo once from swimming in the stream near the sewage treatment plant, a ghastly spread of boils. Everyone had poison ivy, or sumac poison, and then there was athletes foot and jock itch. The application of the stinging bright orange methylate caused so much stinging pain the healing was almost instantaneous.

When I didn't feel well, it was a signal for Mom to make the diagnosis; usually it was determined to be the GRIP. First I got a hot bath, then probably an enema. I often wondered where Mom got her medical training. She sent shivers down my spine when I saw her come at me with that enema bag, the hose and the hideous-looking business end of the device in her hand.

Next came a heavy slathering on my chest of Musterole, a black goo that came in a milk glass jar, and then on with the flannel pajamas. Then a swabbing of Vicks up the nostrils; she obviously didn't bother reading the label. It was honey and lemon with hot tea and then into bed with about 14 blankets on top for good measure. I got chicken noodle soup for dinner with several large tablespoons of Pepto-Bismol for dessert.

By morning, my body was in such shock from the treatments that it sprang back to perfect health. Cured! I was over it!