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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sugar Land's House Of Pain (Continued)

I was thinking about the prescription medicines Dr. Kuykendall & Dr. Slaughter gave their young patients when they had minor illnesses.   I don't think I ever took prescription medicine in pill or tablet form.

Every medicine I remember taking as a child was a liquid dispensed in a clear glass bottle, which showed the color of the medicine.  I never knew their technical names, even as I grew into my teenage years, so I always referred to them as 'the (pale) green stuff,' 'the (cherry) red stuff' & 'the clear stuff.' 

I think the green stuff was liquid penicillin.  It didn't taste too bad.  The red stuff was cough medicine, which may have had cherry flavoring added to improve its taste.  I never liked it although I swallowed it without too much fuss.  The clear stuff was also a cough medicine, but it was more potent, I think.  Now that I'm an adult, I can identify the taste precisely: it tasted like Cointreau.  It burnt like fire all the way down and left an aftertaste of oranges.  I'd probably like the stuff now, but I hated it back then.  (I seem to recall codeine prescriptions when patients were in really bad shape, but I never took it.)

Now that I think about it, there was one presciption medicine in tablet form that Bruce and I took as very young children: worm medicine.  My family was fanatical about us catching pin worms.  I don't think kids play in dirt nowadays, so people don't worm their kids any more.  They certainly did in my day.  I know Bruce & I weren't the only kids who were wormed regularly.

My grandmother Kelly always kept an eye peeled for evidence of a worm infestation, or firmly steered us away from potential infections.  For example, she often told us we'd get worms if we ate raw cookie dough, but we suspected she was just protecting the dough before she could bake the cookies.  In a similar vein my grandfather Kelly always said little boys who played with fire would wet their beds at night.  I caught on pretty quick to his ulterior motive: he wanted to scare me away from playing with matches.  (I never did.)

If my mother or grandmother saw us squirming in a chair or grabbing at the seat of our pants, we'd get a dose of worm medicine.  Little did they know that we liked worm medicine -- it tasted like candy!  I don't know that we ever resorted to fakery, but I do recall the time I learned where my parents kept it in the medicine cabinet over the bathroom sink.  I was big enough to climb into the sink, pull back the mirror, & reach for the package on the top shelf.  I got it & opened the tube.  (There were no child-proof caps in those days.)  Bruce and I ate most of them.  Toward the end I realized gobbling all of them was a bad idea.  I had absolutely no clue about overdoses, so I wasn't concerned about that.  I thought we'd do best to leave a few tablets & avoiding detection.  Besides, it would be nice to save a few for a future treat.

I recall one more 'medicine incident' in our family history.  Bruce was kind of spindly when he was around 4-years old.  My mother thought it would be a good idea to give him Geritol in case he was a little anemic.  Of course, I had to take the cure, too.  As I recall, Mother stared with a big bottle of liquid Geritol.  I don't think they'd begun selling children's Geritol then, so we took a smaller dose of the adult product.

It tasted terrible.  There was a lot of gagging & complaining, but we managed to swallow the whole bottle one tablespoon at a time with many, many glasses of water to wash it down.

When it came time to replenish her supply, Mother decided to try pills, thinking that was a good way to end our complaints about the nasty taste.  Those pills were probably the size of Red Hots, but that's not the way we saw them.  I recall thinking they resembled the Hartz Mountain worm pills pet owners gave their dogs.  (I must have had a mania about worm pills.)  The Hartz Mountain pills were about the size of Peanut M&Ms exept they were a crimson color.  They had a tacky (mildly sticky) soft coating.  I think the idea was you could sqeeze the contents into your dog's food if it wouldn't swallow the pill.  (We never found a way to get our dog to swallow them.) Anyway, the Geritol pills were a little hard to swallow.

The day finally came when we made the switch to Geritol pills.  My father walked home for lunch & we gathered in the kitchen.  Instead of whipping out the big bottle, Mother handed me a pill, or maybe she put it in my mouth and told me to swallow it, which I did.  Bruce was next.  Mother didn't notice the wild look on his face when he saw my pill.  When he got a real good look at his pill between Mother's fingers, he said, "NO! I DON'T WANT IT!"

This battle of wills went on for a few minutes, but Mother finally gave up because it was time to eat.  After we finished & Mother began clearing the table, my dad decided to give it a try.  Same thing happened. "NO!"  "NO!"  "I DON'T WANT IT!"  "NO!"

My dad began getting irritated because this little battle was eating into his post-lunch relaxation (a short nap) before heading back to the office.  Most bettors would have wagered that a grown man could get his 4-year old son to take a little pill, but the sharp money would probably have backed the kid for a couple of reasons.  First, the man (my dad) was rapidly loosing his patience, which meant he lost the psychological advantages he had as an adult.  Second, he was working against the clock.  He had to start walking back to the office at 5 minutes to 1:00 PM, and the clock was ticking relentlessly.

My dad finally reached the point that he went into the next room (our bedroom) and got a rocking chair which he place in the middle of the floor.  He picked Bruce up and sat him in his lap.  He said, "I'm not leaving this house till you take this pill!" 

"NO!"  "NO!"  "NO!"

In a fit of exasperation my dad said, "You're going to take this pill if I have to put it in a straw and blow it down your throat like they do with horses!"

Well, that did it.  Bruce went off like a Roman candle & the clock ran out.  Dad handed him to Mother, who settled him down.  Dad walked back to work suffering the agony of defeat.

I think Mom & Dad ended up taking those Geritol pills.  They probably needed them worse than we did.


1 comment:

  1. I remember the clinic too, what you call the house of pain. How can anyone ever forget a doctor named Slaughter. The first street I remember living on was called Tin Can Alley, it was by the cotton gin, which is no longer there, but neither is the house. The gin would park the cotton trailers in front of our house, and they would become our playground! We then moved across from St. Theresa Catholic church and made many happy memories. What a great town!