T oday, a little headache, a toothache, a cut, a nail puncture, a bellyache - all of these would require a visit to the doctor. Is it because doctors are easily available or is it that people have become cowards on health matters?
But what would you do if there were no doctors? In the 1 960's there were no doctors in San Pedro. One of the first doctors that visited us once a week to offer private practice was Doctor Lizama of Belize City. The Lions were first to offer a full time doctor in the late 1970's. However, San Pedranos practiced their own medicine or home remedies as they were frequently called. Want to hear some of them? Some strange ones!
A SEVERE CUT OR WOUND - How do you stop the bleeding? Yes, direct pressure and elevation of the limb was done. But most parents taught the children to pour kerosene oil over the wound to help stop the bleeding. Sounds weird? It worked.
NAIL JUK - (Creole for nail puncture) This was a very common injury. The garbage dump sites were right in town on the back streets by the lagoon. Furthermore, all San Pedranos walked barefooted all the time. Nail injuries were extremely common and it is surprising that no one lost his foot due to gangrene. The home remedy? The foot was immersed in very hot water for as long as one could bear it -for about 30 minutes. In the night you lit a candle and when it melted you let it drip on the nail puncture injury. Great treatment when there is no doctor to apply the tetanus shot.
SEVERE PAIN OR NAIL PUNCTURE - A puncture on the sole of the foot hurts a lot. Even after treatment with hot water the pain thereafter could be intense. The solution 25 years ago - you take a roach, yes a cockroach, you fry it crispy and you apply it and tie it right over the wound. Whatever the explanation the pain would go away.
TOOTHACHE - If the doctors came in the late 70's the dentists have yet to open a full time practice. What was done about severe toothache discomforts? A medicated liquid known as "Castro" was used. It was soaked with a piece of cotton and the cotton was bitten over the hurting molar. The process was repeated 3 to 4 times within a 30 minute period and after that you could sleep like a baby. Note that the Dr. Castro solution is for external use only.
HURTING TUMMY OR BELLYACHE - That was, and probably still is, a common ailment especially among children and especially among gluttonous children. It was believed that most bellyaches were the result of overeating. or eating junk food, or eating green fruits with salt and lime and pepper. The solution for severe bellyache 25 years ago? One teaspoonful of warm water with a few drops of Castro solution. Process is repeated every 2 hours. Note again that Dr. Castro solution clearly reads on the label for external use only. It certainly did not stop people from taking it internally. Yes, I had several treatments with it. In fact I used it as late as last year. It worked. More remedies coming next week if the author has not been sued by the doctors and is spending time in jail.