When I was young


A Painful Childhood.

I can remember the earaches, which would continue sometimes for days, excruciating pain drilling thru the side of my head, relieved only when the eardrum could take no more and would burst, releasing a welcome foul, stinking green ooze – Welcome because it meant the earaches would stop for a while and I could be pain free & get a good nights sleep .. until the endless cycle began again.

I remember being so embarrassed as a kid because of having a constant, thick green runny nose that simply never went away (likely because of food / milk allergies, or diet) I can recall that it was suggested that the Australian climate might help clear it up .. and it did, eventually, when I was about 15.

Then there was the terrifying sharp pains in my heart which made it almost impossible to breathe properly for hours after any kind of exertion .. (I never did find out what was causing that ) ..We all walked several miles to school and back each day, so we should have been quite fit actually, but running around was always a problem for me.

I also had constant miserable pain for years in my calves as a child ..growing pains, Mum called them, but it didn’t make them feel any better.

Then there was the gut wrenching stomach spasms, violent and explosive wind  that would begin under my shoulder blades and spend the whole day (and half the night sometimes) painfully churning and gurgling its way down my back & thru my body until it reached its eventual and embarrassing natural *end*

This continued until I was well into my 20s, before I discovered I was lactose intolerant. These days, it would be almost the first thing I would think of, but back then, not much was known about such things.

I was also totally deaf for a year or so … funny really, because no-one really knew for a long time, not even myself .. I was about 8 or 9 I think and I only knew that I could not hear people speak unless I could see them speak .. I could lipread so well though that the Drs told Mum that I must have been completely deaf for at least a year …

I remember that the family would get quite exasperated when I wouldn’t answer them or I would turn and ask .. What? Or Aye?.. They almost gave up speaking to me as it was annoying for them, as I guess it would be. I know it was quite lonely at times.

But it wasn’t a miserable existence – far from it. We were a large (there were 8 of us children) warm, noisy, fiercely loyal, argumentative, sharing and caring, happy family. We were all *best friends*

In all fairness, it would probably be difficult amongst the never-ending work and noise of such a family, to pick up when one child had a problem. It didn’t really occur to me to complain much either, life was what it was and I knew no different. Aspirin was still relatively new on the market for pain relief and Mum would use it sparingly and only with the gravest misgivings – ½ a tablet for the worst earache. I don’t recall that it ever had much effect, but it was comforting to have a little extra attention and for my pain to actually be acknowledged.

Mum was, luckily for us, very wary of the new medications and anything that came from the chemist. She always looked for the old remedies, even when she suffered with severe Pleurisy (fluid on the lungs – a very painful condition) and sent her Dr off to find a * natural cure* refusing to take anything for it. He came back the next day and said she was to Pant, as fast and as deep as she could stand, at intervals, as often as she could manage it .. after several painful days, Mum did gradually begin to recover.

I said it was lucky for us that Mum was suspicious of medication because she was offered Thalidomide during several of her pregnancies, which she of course refused. That was indeed fortuitous; life could have been very very different for all of us.

Most of us kids grew up with the same wariness of these new fangled drugs, with always a leaning toward finding a natural, old fashioned remedy or a food that worked. As we have had our own children, this legacy, for the most part, has continued.

Good ole Mum!!


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