No. Just No.



Mrs. G. has mentioned before that her grandmother was not a proponent of what we now call Western Medicine. Mrs. G’s grandmother was not a proponent of what we now call Alternative Medicine. Mrs. G’s grandmother, a woman of modest means, was a proponent of what we now call Pipe Dream Medicine—the kind that did not cost more than a four ounce tub of Vicks Vaporub or a jar of yellow mustard.


She also believed she was licensed physician with a medical degree from the University of I Think Doctors Are Full Of Shit.


She was a confident woman and when she told you to do something, you let nothing but fear and common sense stop you from doing it. Fast.


Mrs. G’s grandmother believed in home remedies, and Mrs. G. was her last generation of guinea pig. So Mrs. G. endured the mustard plaster and the onion poultice. She endured arbitrary spoonfuls of cod-liver oil and Phillip’s Milk of the devil Magnesia. She endured…well, you get the idea, she just endured.  The first day of a sore throat demanded round-the-clock gargling with salt water. The second day of a sore throat demanded tonsils being painted with liquid mercury red Mercurochrome. The third day of a sore throat demanded swallowing a substantial dollop of Mentholatum. The fourth day of a sore throat demanded a mild cussing out, because, clearly, you, the afflicted, were at fault and not following her exclusive, unwavering and tirelessly recited Hippocratic Oath: MIND OVER MATTER!


Oh, and just so you know, menstrual cramps are nonexistent and for the birds.




Mrs. G. would persuasively cry and carry on during each of these ironhanded (but mainly innocuous) procedures for survival purposes only, because another of Mrs. G’s grandmother’s medical convictions was that the level of pain was directly proportional to the level of cure. If it didn't hurt, it didn't heal.  Hysterics were required.


Mrs. G. begged her mother for orange baby aspirin or grape Robitussun—for First-Do-No-Harm mercy, but Mrs. G’s mother just shrugged it off and told Mrs. G. to count her lucky stars that she had not been forced to endure her grandmother’s chief, front office miracle cure: the enema. Apparently, back in the early days of Mrs. G’s grandmother’s medical residency, also known as Mrs. G’s mother’s childhood, Mrs. G’s grandmother believed an enema was akin to the antibiotic in its curative properties, and she administered them liberally. Mrs. G’s aunt has confirmed the horror.


“What’s an enema?” asked Mrs. G, who had occasionally pondered the pink bladder bag that hung on the back of her grandmother’s bathroom door but had assumed was some sort new fangled hot water bottle…with puzzling tubage.




Once informed, Mrs. G. never complained about a home remedy again. She performed the necessary apoplexy to minimize the suffering, but it ended there— not one tick further.  At the age of eleven, Mrs. G. had made a life decision:






Just no.


So, fast-forward thirteen years, to the peaches and cream pastel-ed hospital room where Mrs. G. writhed through the steady contractions of early labor.


Pity the labor and delivery nurse who suggested Mrs. G. might want an enema before the hard (hard!?) labor began.


“l’ll pass,” Mrs. G. said through gritted teeth.


Pity the labor and delivery nurse who went on to explain why it might be a good idea.


“I’m good,” Mrs. G. said once more, with feeling.


Pity Mr. G, who, aware of Mrs. G’s life decision, had sworn eternal solidarity in the face of its challenge, was bound by marital law to boldly stand up and firmly suggest that the labor and delivery nurse drop the subject. Stat.


He’d taken a similar childhood stand against yogurt. He understood the import of a nonnegotiable resolution.


“We’ll take our chances,” he said as he quickly ushered the labor and delivery nurse to the door.


Bullet dodged.


Covenant maintained.


The man literally saved Mrs. G’s ass.



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Reader Comments (56)

That Mr. G, he is the Man.

CK and I have a similar arrangement but ours relates to E.C.T.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertrash

Great post! I'm sitting here cracking up thinking about the conversation where you told Mr. G to just say "NO" to enemas.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJessie

"He’d taken a similar childhood stand against yogurt."

Wait, what? Why? Maybe we shouldn't go there, but I'm intrigued...

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterUrban Cowgirl


March 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergary rith

What Gary said.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermiddle-aged-woman

ROFL love it Mrs. G! Can you believe that now there are new studies questioning the effectiveness of Vicks? Something about it making it harder to breathe? It can't possibly be true because I swear I was bathed in it as a child and would have certainly died!

P.S. My grandmother once told me to pee on my toe if I ever cut it.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteroceangypsymom

Hilarious! At my house the line is drawn at my mother's infamous homemade honey-and-onion (!) cough syrup. Gack!

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter~annie

I remember reading the ingredients for Vick's Vaporub in a pharmacy one day, and said out loud, "Hey! There's turpentine in here!" To which the pharmacist said, "hmmm...parents usually don't read the ingredients like that."

I put the jar down.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteralexandra

Haha, I'm loving your grandmother!
Maybe I should save this for the confessional, but I'm guilty of attending the I Think Doctors Are Full of Shit University *blush*
Mine is a different story, though. It all began with a close friend of mine who gave up her medical career after realizing so much of the bullsh!t behind the curtains.
Disclosure* I am, however, entirely aware that medicine has its place and importance; there are situations in which only a doctor can save one's ass.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCaro

Man, I remember being slathered in Vick's when I had a cold. And my father in law swears by his hot lemon drink (I think it's a Hot Toddy without the alcohol).

Chris Rock has a funny bit about how Robitussin was the cure-all in his house. "Broken leg? Rub some 'Tussin on it!"

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterA Different Ashley

Hilarious! Man, I remember being slathered in Vick's when I had a cold. And my father in law swears by his hot lemon drink (I think it's a Hot Toddy without the alcohol).

Chris Rock has a funny bit about how Robitussin was the cure-all in his house. "Broken leg? Rub some 'Tussin on it!"

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterA Different Ashley

@Oceangypsymom? Urine has long been used in the bush as a handy go to steriliser for knife or wound in an emergency. It is generally a neutral ph and is used in case of an octopus sting. Is it at all effective? Don't know but if you are going to read drug ingredients you will find it many.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertrash

Mr G is indeed a lifesaver

Those things they aren't nice... They aren't even tolerable... They are pure EVIL!

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTonya Lynn

Luckily, I had a country Grandfather who believed anything could be cured with his special hot toddy: heated rum and with a pat of butter floating on top!

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Paul

I grew up on Vicks. Under the nose, on the chest, covered by a warm, damp old diaper. I have an adult friend, older than I am, who still uses Vicks on the soles of her feet at night to cure colds.
I'm not trying it...

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterknittergran

@Urban Cowgirl, Mr. G. can barely even stand if yogurt/sour cream, is in the house. The both immediately initiate a gag reflex. As far as I know it is not the result of any medical trauma.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. G.

Vicks rocks.

My husband, a generation older than me, often talks about his mother using Mercurochrome and terpenhydrate (sp?) to cure all ills. Since terpenhydrate is chock full of codeine, I can see why she'd like to knock any number of her 7 kids out with that on a bad day.

My fervent stand is on Robitussin. It shall never pass my lips again.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKristen

I'd rather have an enema than ever, EVER smell Vicks. Let alone actually apply it to my body.


March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterViolet

Oh goodness! I have never known anyone besides my brother and myself who had our throats "mopped" when we had sore throats. I eventually stopped mentioning that I had one. And gargle with something vile called ST-37. Anyone remember it? But Vick? I still use it!

Thanks for a good laugh this morning!

So happy you are back! And alive. And better than ever!

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSarah in Va

My father fervently believed that if you injured yourself, your should immediately wash down the wound with yellow Dial soap. It had to be the yellow kind, the other colors wouldn't work.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAunt Snow (g)

Some of my mother and grandmother's more epic battles related to my mother not allowing my grandmother to use those very same home remedies you endured on us girls.

I am so with you on the enema thing. I have successfully avoided having or administering one thus far.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenn @ Juggling Life

Yeah, the whole enema before childbirth offer was a big ol' NEGATORY from me, too. Never. Gonna. Happen.

I'd always heard of Mercurochrome, but never knew what it was. Thanks for the enlightenment!

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjenn

My father was often bedridden as a child and still talks about his mother, the enema advocate.

How she thought enemas would improve his asthma I still do not understand.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter*m*

Oh my. Now I know what that hot water bottle hanging on my grandmother's door was for. It even had the Special Tubing! And, she wouldn't let us play with it!

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

Love this post. Gosh it brings back alot of childhood memories. I too survived some of those "remedies" at the hand of my grandmother. My husband and I were talking the other day about "monkey blood" (mercurochrome). One of my girls said, "Oh hell no, tell me you really did not put a monkey's blood on your cuts"!!!!

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNana B

Oh dear Mrs. G
Your post just made my day. So glorious to start the day with a laugh!

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterfarmercindy

Loved this post!

My grandmother must have gone to the same medical school as Mrs. G's grandmother!
Except enemas weren't the cure-all...vinegar was.
Sore throat? vinegar gargle for days.
Dandruff? vinegar rinse! (I don't know what's worse, the flakes or the smell.)
Bug bite? dab a little vinegar on it...

And although the remedy was different, my grandmother was also a staunch believer of...

"The fourth day of a sore throat demanded a mild cussing out, because, clearly, you, the afflicted, were at fault and not following her exclusive, unwavering and tirelessly recited Hippocratic Oath: MIND OVER MATTER!"

Mrs. G, you are hilarious!

Also, I had an enema while in early labor with my second daughter and it wasn't all that bad. Compared to what you go through to birth a baby, what's a little self-inflicted diarrhea? (and I was having a water birth so the poop issue was perhaps more of a problem than normal)

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKim

I am also intrigued about Mr. G's yogurt issue. Please enlighten us!

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKim

Even cough in our household and you were threatened with some clear, vile flavored syrup called Turpenhydrate. Just the threat was enough to make you hide and deny even the worst illness. It smelled just like turpentine.

My mother had several frightening febrile seizures as a child. So after that, at the first sign of any illness my grandmother would give her an enema. You know to keep the seizures away...

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMollyS.

Vicks - check. Mercurochrome - check. Iondine - check. Adolfs Meat tenderizer (for bee stings and misquito bites) - check. Vinegar - check. Hot salt water gargles - check. I remember BEGGING my Mom to PLEASE buy the "new" Bactine".....'cause it wasn't supposed to sting (and I remember that other stuff....mercurochrome, iodine and of course straight alcohol STUNG!). Ah, the memories! Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Carol

In our house, the medicine cabinet included Mecurochome, Methiolade (sp?) also known as "Monkey's Blood," and some sickening, incredibly tar-like substance known colloquially as "Black Draw." It looked (and smelled) like someone had eaten and coughed up black licorice and was slathered on whenever a cut or scrape got infected. The scary part? The nasty stuff worked.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Harp

To this day, my mother insists that merthiolate never stung & I must have it mixed up with iodine. No difference between the two as I remember it.
Vick's & Mentholatum and orange baby aspirin bring back positive memories. At a very young age I was close to pneumonia, & my mother used all of them to nurse me back to health. It was the first time I could remember her speaking kindly to me.
The scent of Vick's or Mentholatum or the flavor of St. Joseph's orange baby aspirin brings back the feeling of being safe & cared for.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWisconsin Witch

My grandmother believed firmly in the medicinal purposes of ginger brandy. It does work!

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergreen girl in wisconsin

I agree: No. Just No! regarding enemas.
How I remember Vicks being swiped under my nose and rubbed on my chest! I thought I'd never get that smell out of my nostrils. And I had many cuts painted with mercurochrome. God bless the inventor of Neosporin!
My favorite cure for a sore throat is a shot of whiskey. (My husband gargles cheap vodka -- same idea.) I figure if they poured it on bullet wounds, it's good enough for my throat! Jack Daniels was so effective on the gums of one of my teething babies that he would whimper and point to it on the shelf. Believe it or not, the teething advice was from our doctor: he said to pour a shot of whiskey, dip your finger in and rub it on the baby's sore gums. Then the parent should drink the rest of the shot of whiskey and both should go back to sleep!

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkcinnova

kcinnova: is your pediatrician still practicing? Sounds like he'd be fun to consult with.

I love the smell of Vick's! Those tissues with the Vick's in them are awesome.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Oh boy, does this bring back memories. My mother would make me gargle with hot salt water, with a dash of hydrogen peroxide thrown in if my voice was even slightly raspy or I even thought the words 'sore throat'. She dumped so much Mentholatum and Vicks on me when I had a cold that I can't stomach the smell of the stuff now. Her big jar of Vicks was the first thing I threw away in her room after she passed away. She always insisted on using Camphophenique (sp?) for insect bites, but I think it just attracted more mosquitoes my way. My legs were usually just a mass of red welts every summer. Red, eucalyptus-y scented welts. And no to the enema. Not ever.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKelley


I love that Mr. G. always has your back(side)!!

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlucy

My grandma STILL has bottles of "Monkey Blood" and she swallowed a glob of Vicks or menthalatum not too long ago (much to the family's WTF!?).

My worst memory is my stepdad's mom trying to wash a major cut of mine out with water and alcohol. We're talking 4 stitches in my palm kind of cut. I flat out refused and told her husband I wanted to go to the ER now and they can wash it out. I shudder to think how bad that would have hurt.

I totally got out of the enema at childbirth thing, but NO just NO way. My midwives are nice enough to encourage you to go to the loo as needed or kindly wipe up any small expulsions during pushing with a straight face. Who said childbirth was a "sterile" process?

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

For Anne Harp: Anne, we had the black gunk in our medicine cabinet too. If we got a deep splinter, mom would slap some of that stuff on it and bandage it up. After a day or two, the splinter would be at the surface. I once stepped on a toothpick, it broke off in my foot, and the stuff even pulled it out! I think it was called Ichthamol. (not sure if this is how you spell it, but that is what Mom said it was called). I am going to have to google it and see if they still sell the stuff.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNana B

and for some reason my blog url got borked on my profile... fixed now.

Also... does Absorbine, jr burn? I remember it burning and my grandmother tells me it didn't. I think perhaps she meant "it didn't burn her when she put it on my cuts."

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

My medicine cabinet generally carries such curatives as bandaids and neosporin. I'm not much for lots of salves and such. When my daughter was younger I decided to broaden my medicinal tool chest and added mercurochrome having some vague memory of my mother having swabbed it on external cuts and scrapes. I mentioned to the neurosurgeon for whom I worked at the time that I had put mercurochrome on my daughter's cut and he rather sarcastically responded, 'Well, you could have used warm spit and it would have had the same effect and would have been free." After that I ditched the mercurochrome and although I didn't go with the warm spit suggestion, just stuck with my old standby, neorsporin.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterles

I remember when Band-Aids came with mercurochrome in the pad.

One of the earlier commenters mentioned the curative power of onions. I received an e-mail about that recently. I'll post it on my blog if I can find it/didn't delete it.

Glad to see you back in fine form, Mrs. G.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterms martyr

My MIL is a HUGE fan of the enema, and will often ask me to drive her to the store to get one when she is visiting because travel makes her irregular. This is a woman who is in remission from colon cancer probably because she over enema-ed for decades. yet, she still swears by them.

they didn't even offer me one when i was in labor, thank gawd.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBeca


My mum told me the other day her granmother used to have regular enema's, and it astounded me. I thought that was only popular Hollywood crap.

But yeah, I'll pass too thankyouverymuch :/

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHay

Absorbene, Jr does not burn! It's good stuff, but I wouldn't put it on cuts. It's for sore muscles and has always helped mine. Feels kind of like icy hot's cool sensation.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenn

Great post! My childhood memories are of iodine & peroxide. And good lord, I remember years ago visiting my grandma with my very colicky baby, he screamed non-stop. She grabbed the baby and took him in the kitchen and rubbed whiskey on his gums.
A couple years ago I had to have a colonoscopy. They give you this solution to drink the night before called "Go-lightly" (well, that's what it is called,but that is not what happened!)
Holy hell an enema sounds better than this procedure.

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJamie in Nv

My mom swears that mentholatum is an aphrodesiac!

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkg

Can i just jump on Gary's comment-bandwagon?
toooo funny!!!
my granny believed that CamphoPhenique was the cure-all...and a "I'll blow on it" would make that stinging go away...ahhh...evil liquid on a cotton ball.
Monkey Blood....that stuff was wild!! (i think we still use that over here!!! but not in the mouth...great for little boy cuts!!)

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdkuroiwa

@Jenn she put it on cuts. ow ow ow and ow

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Haha--my grandmother was the same way! Have you ever heard of goose grease? She would smear it all over her kids' chests when they had a cough. My dad said it either killed you (stench) or willed you back to life!

March 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterfluffy

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