Changes in Treatment: Times Past


© irene waters 2016

Last month’s Times Past looked at clubs and having only received responses from Baby Boomers all I can conclude is that no matter where you lived clubs were not associations we joined in our youth on a large scale. Red Cross and girl guides being the most common ones encountered. Interestingly some people experienced more group activity when they joined the club of motherhood and encouraged their own children to join associations that they had not themselves experienced.

So on to this month’s prompt. Rules can be seen here. Don’t forget to put where you were living at the time of the remembered event and what generation you belong to.

I have just been in hospital having repairs to my bunions and hammer toes. The experience was unlike I had expected having nursed a number of people with a similar affliction. I had micro-surgery with multiple little cuts and although bones were removed and others broken, screws were all that were required to keep the bones in alignment post-operatively. This used to be an extremely painful procedure. I won’t deny that there is pain but nothing like I expected, so I consider myself pain free. Those in the past had to have 6 weeks without walking. Although I can’t walk, I can hobble with a special boot. Another major advance.

With this procedure occupying my thoughts I wondered what other common treatments may have changed in our life-time. I’m sure someone has tonsil stories ( I still have mine but I’ve heard some beauties from people no older than myself). Did your mother have a special remedy for anything? My mother used to say “feed a cold and starve a fever.” This dates back to 1574 and in the 1950’s my family was certainly still following it. My husband’s family had totally discounted this and Roger’s Mother treated every ailment they had with chicken stock. “Jewish Penicillin” Roger calls it and he uses it as both a prophylactic  and acute disease treatment. He swears by it and is according to his doctor is one of the few septuagenarians he has seen whose blood results are all in the black and who does not take a single pill. Jamie Oliver’s mum must also have sworn by this as Jamie does a Jewish penicillin with traditional matzo balls. With a bit of searching I have found that the medicinal properties of this soup are reported as far back as the 12th century. Older than the eat and starve regimen. Do you have home remedies that you still use or have you discarded them for something better?

Join in with experiences whether home remedies or hospital where treatment has altered or perhaps remained unchanged for centuries.

Baby Boomer

Rural Australia

One treatment that I would probably not follow again would be my Father’s treatment for warts. I had a girlfriend when I was at school who had warts all down her shin bones. This caused her a lot of embarrassment and she tried everything to get rid of them including milk thistle, apple cider vinegar, banana peel and various other herbs, fruits and vegetables. She would occasionally knock the top off her wart and blood would pour down her leg so of course, when I got a wart on my finger I blamed her for the occurrence. I knew nothing had worked for her and I was desperate to have it gone. My Father gave me a treatment and miraculously mine did go eventually. I don’t know whether it was anything to do with his treatment or just time and a good immune system. These days I think I’d buy a bottle of something from the chemist. My Dad told me to take a piece of paper and trace the outline of my hand with wart on it. Then I was to get a match and set fire to the wart on the piece of paper. My entire traced hand disappeared in flames. I was to repeat this everyday until the wart went. I did this religiously for awhile (probably a week), lost faith but also eventually lost the wart. My Father believed warts were psychologically induced and you just had to fool the brain into believing them gone. Much as asthma was initially viewed, but perhaps someone else has that story.

Hope you join in even if only in the comments.

City Australia


About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
This entry was posted in Memoir, Past Challenge, Times Past and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Changes in Treatment: Times Past

  1. I am from the Silent Generation. Born in 1943.
    Italian mother, she had many remedies one that stuck with me even today. If one of us (I had five siblings) got a bad cough with a fever she would make ‘Chop Meat Soup,’ It contained ground meat sautéed in Olive oil with a ton of Garlic, Parsley, some salt and pepper. She would then boil water and throw in some broken up linguine. When that was done she would add the meat mixture and stir it up. You would then be given a bowl of the soup and had to eat it while it was hot. It always worked, by the next morning the cough was loose and we would feel much better.
    I thin there were many home remedies back then and most contained herbs taken fresh from the garden.

    Hospital Stay 1948 or 49; Three of us were put into Queens General hospital with Scarlet Fever. We were put on a ward. Our parents were not allowed to visit. I remember crying every night. They wouldn’t even let the three of us stay in beds next to each other. We also had our tonsils out together, same scenario and sorry to say the same hospital. I don’t think our parents had any medical coverage so we were put in a ward. We were so glad when we were able to go home.
    I think living through hard times, and being poor was one of the best lessons I lived through,.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Your soup reminds of me of the hot lemon drink we were made to drink if we had a cold. We were always better the next day.
      Luckily hospital treatment of children and separation from their parents is a thing of the past. It was much the same when I was a child although perhaps not quite as strict – at least our parents were allowed to visit. I feel for you crying every night. You must have felt so abandoned. I’d love to hear more about your experiences with scarlet fever. It is something that you rarely hear of these days. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry, should be; I think there were many home remedies back then and most contained herbs taken fresh from the garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Paula says:

    Thank God for good changes in this world. That gives me hope. I remember having my feet lined with cut potatoes to decrease high temperature.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Norah says:

    I hope your recovery is going well, Irene. It’s interesting that you mention warts. They seemed to be quite common when I (Baby Boomer) was young, but I don’t see so many of them any more.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Boomer here.

    I’ve had very few hospital experiences, fortunately, though I have a long history of pneumonia bouts. As a child, I had nearly every disease and minor injury – measles, mumps, chicken pox, bronchitis, bad sprains, a few deep gashes, even mononucleosis when I was just five. Nowadays there are vaccines to prevent them.

    When my youngest son was five, and he and his brother were about a week away from a vacation with my parents, he broke out with five warts on the bottom of his foot. Very painful. I knew that warts are a contagious virus, but had no idea how he got them there. Still, it didn’t matter – we had to get rid of them or his vacation would be a miserable experience.

    I tried a home remedy: apply castor oil to each wart (after washing the area), cover with a bandage, and leave it alone. Do this twice a day. The largest wart showed up like a tiny pearl on the bandage by the third day leaving a tiny but clean and painless divot in his flesh, and all five were gone before the kids left with my parents. The warts never returned. I think the lack of oxygen killed them.

    Nowadays, warts are burned off at a doctor’s office and that usually works.

    There is some truth to home remedies as long as you regard them with common sense. Jewish penicillin and Salpa’s chop meat soup work for colds and minor flu or other ailments because even doing nothing would work as well. But the soup was healthy as it was made with fresh ingredients, and eating a bowlful a few times a day was a good thing to do when ill – or healthy.

    Still, I think medical care has increased exponentially with excellent research and education, especially for serious illnesses. Both my daughters-in-law had cesarean sections for pregnancies that might have killed them and/or their infants 100 years ago. The key is knowing when to seek professional care and not relying on home remedies for life threatening conditions.

    Sadly, people still behave like the witch doctor knows all. Years ago, an acquaintance labored at home with a mid-wife for four days – had to be a natural labor, she insisted – and tragically the baby was stillborn. I’ll never forget my OB telling me: at the end of pregnancy, the labor part is inconsequential to having a healthy infant.

    (And there I go again – nearly taking over your blog, Irene. Hope you don’t mind.)


    • You could be right about the lack of oxygen being effective on warts. I think no-one in the past would risk wasting the doctor’s time going to him with such an ailment whereas no a minor blemish must be dealt with immediately.
      I agree – doing nothing would probably work as well but it is a good excuse to eat some healthy food and that can’t be bad. Advances in maternal and child health are probably the most important changes in the health system. It has made a huge different in infant and maternal mortality and I’m glad your daughters-in-law benefited from that.
      Love it when you take over my blog – I don’t mind at all and always find what you have to add well worth reading.


  6. I’m part of the Silent Generation (1939), and grew up on the Canadian prairie on a small farm. We were a large family, and had the usual childhood diseases. Our mother treated us with soup and ‘vicks vaporub’, and hot water bottles, maybe some aspirin from time to time. Nothing fazed her until the great polio scare of the early 1950s. It seemed to reach a peak in the summer, and mother wisely kept us away from other children. We were all frightened silly, and stories of young people who ended up very ill or with withered limbs abounded. It was with great relief that we heard of the Salk vaccine, which emerged around 1955, and the panic was suddenly over. Polio was a mysterious illness, and unknown in that part of the world until that decade. People of my era will remember ‘the march of dimes’, which encouraged school children to collect money for research for a cure. We all felt we contributed to the cure with our dimes!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d not heard of the March of Dimes. You were indeed part of the cure. Polio was a dreadful disease. I looked after the last woman in Australia in an iron lung. She’d been in it since the 50’s. I remember her reaction when we managed to get her a portable machine that allowed her to go the the shopping mall – the first time in over 35 years. I think soup and vicks vapour rub must be worldwide treatments. Thanks for sharing Diane.


  7. macmsue says:

    Reading the other comments has just reminded me that my brother had Polio and was in an iron lung, he’s now 75 and having some issues that are associated with”Post-Polio Syndrome”. I’ve posted my memories here


  8. TanGental says:

    Goodness there must have been tonnes for this Boomer
    1. Lemon and honey for a sore throat
    2. vicks melted in a washing up bowl, towel over the head and inhale for a chesty cough
    3. dry toast after diarrhoea
    4. lots of rubbing for any aches and pains
    5. a poultice of something hot strapped on when I broke a pin on my foot – it had to be cut out eventually
    6. I was strapped to a stretching machinewhen I cricked my neck doing music and movement at school to unbend me, while an infrared light was beamed on the affected area – the strap was around my jaw so I couldn’t speak. Mum said she’d read to me but in the heat from the lamp she fell asleep and I couldn’t do anything to wake her!
    7. once I had so many falls and sprains they banned me from having another x ray for 6 months

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL. I suppose you were burning away whilst your Mum slept. Not funny at the time but it gave me a chuckle now. We used to have poultices of a black substance called, I think, icthiol. Ouch for the pin cutting and 1 – 4 we also were subjected to. You must have been an accident prone child to be banned from having further x-rays.
      Thanks for this Geoff. It gave me a smile and shows a generational difference in the number of home remedies that were used. Now I think that it is straight to the doctor for every ailment, large or small.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. julespaige says:

    I’ve been trying to mull over this subject. Medical advances are great. But they are not available to the masses. I’ve come to not trust most doctors…because of a) those who choose their patients because of their ability to pay (big bucks) and because b) they don’t talk to each other in the same office (I’ve had issues with my children’s health when they were younger) c) the insurance companies don’t want referrals for better health care options, they just want the quickest and cheapest solutions – a doctor wanted one of our children to stay for overnight observation and we called the insurance company to let them know. The insurance company then turned around to call and chew out the doctor because it was supposed to be a 23 hour procedure. d) you can’t get away from drug commercials…(they should be banned I think) really if your doctor hasn’t the knowledge of what these meds can or can’t do why would you bring them up to your doc? e) Every try ready the booklet of information that comes with some drugs; the possible side affects are worse than the drug that is supposed to be helping you f)When did giving birth go from a two week respite (in the late 1950’s) to and overnight or 23 hour stay today? Maybe I’ll come up with something…but I’m thinking that sometimes the home remedies of the ancients and even our grandparents might have significant value and a friendlier face. As with any treatment, you need to know what you are doing, so do your research and get second opinions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jules our health system is a little fairer here and I don’t have quite the same issue with doctors however I can totally understand what you are saying. Here we have banned drug companies from giving doctors incentives to use their products. Don’t get me onto mothers and babies. I don’t understand why, when a mother is in her prime of life, that she is given parking closest to the shopping centre doors if she has a pram. Once you have the child in the pram it is easy to wheel it. That parking should be reserved for the over 70s that don’t have a disability sticker. They are the ones that are more likely to struggle to walk the distance. Anyway that has nothing to do with home remedies or health treatments. I think in our youth home remedies were much more the norm than they are today and I agree with your last line – do your research and get second opinions. Thanks for the comment it adds to the layers.

      Liked by 1 person

      • julespaige says:

        I am not entirely sure of the scope of the law, in regards to medicine. But I don’t think it is fair to charge (say) $10 for a single aspirin product in the hospital. Or as the old joke goes; to be woken up to take a sleeping medication just because it is on the hospitals schedule.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes the sleeping pill has always been questionable. Charging for medications doesn’t happen here. In public hospitals our health system medicare covers it and in private hospitals you purchase an entire bottle of tablets at chemist prices and they give you your own. One offs they don’t charge for. I know it costs a lot of money to be sick in the States and I do think that it is wrong that access to health care is determined by a person’s income.

        Liked by 1 person

      • julespaige says:

        It depends on who you are in the states…
        There is Medicare and such for Elders and special insurances for youth. Part of our regular costs are so high because we end up paying for those who can’t.

        Liked by 1 person

      • We are all covered by our medicare although you can take out private insurance if you want to. You are encouraged to do so with tax incentives. We pay for medicare with our taxes and I guess we probably pay more taxes than are normal in the United States although less than Scandinavian countries. With our system all are assured medical treatment that is affordable and I personally think that is a good thing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • julespaige says:

        I am not sure on all the rules concerning healthcare here. But there is the joke that goes around that one can’t afford to be sick – and in most cases that isn’t a joke.

        My husband used to watch a show about a concierge doctor. I knew one could have lawyers on retainer…but I guess one needs big bucks (so to speak) to have a doctor on retainer. Certainly not a common practice in most places I would guess, unless one had extra to spend.

        Liked by 1 person

      • No we don’t hear of doctors on retainers here either unless you are one of the Packer or Murdoch families (both media moguls). Far beyond the reach of us mere mortals.

        Liked by 1 person

      • julespaige says:

        Most of us are mere mortals 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Annecdotist says:

    Sorry I’ve not had time to join in this month, Irene, but I did come across a fictional example of how things have changed regarding the suppression of emotions related to ill health:
    And my own novel also contrasts psychological interventions for inconvenient preferences in the 1970s and more recent times. Just wish I could have found the time to explore in more detail.


    • Thanks Anne for your contribution. I think most of us try to put on a brave face when it comes to being very unwell but I do hope nursing staff have moved on in their attitudes.
      Time is always a problem. One day you may have the time to explore and one day I will make the time to read your novel.


  11. Pingback: Tonsils and Adenoids: Times Past | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s