Era medycznych cudów / The Age of Medical Miracles and Wonders

Era medycznych cudów / The Age of Medical Miracles and Wonders

Kiedy byłem dzieckiem, rzadko widziałem, żeby moi rodzice chodzili do lekarza. Ilekroć cokolwiek ich bolało, używali lekarstw i metod, jakie przywieźli ze sobą z dalekiej Polski. Kiedy mama czuła się przeziębiona, obierała ząbek czosnku i wcierała go sobie w nos. Kiedy puchły jej kostki, piła wodę z odrobiną octu. Kiedy nabiłem sobie siniaka na nodze lub ręce, albo wyskoczyła mi wysypka, podgrzewała liście kapusty i robiła z nich okłady. Jeśli jej sprawdzone metody nie rozwiązywały problemu, szła po fachową opinię do swojej przyjaciółki, polskiej zielarki, która mieszkała w okolicy skrzyżowania Milwaukee i Division.

Mój ojciec miał inną, choć równie niekonwencjonalną metodę. Kiedy od podnoszenia 50-galonowych koszy na śmieci łupało go w krzyżu, albo odzywały się bóle rąk po wypadku przy linii produkcyjnej w fabryce, brał butelkę wódki i schodził do piwnicy naszego budynku apartamentowego w pobliżu Parku Humboldta. W piwnicy otwierał drzwiczki pieca, przysuwał krzesło, siadał i zaczynał powolutku pić wódkę, pozwalając, aby alkohol i ciepło od pieca zrobiły swoje. Zwykle, po kilku godzinach wracał na górę uśmiechnięty i wyleczony.

Czasem myślę, że moi rodzice mieli właściwe podejście do medycyny. Około siedem miesięcy temu podczas ćwiczeń robiłem pajacyki. Niewiele, zaledwie kilka, może trzy, jako część mojego programu treningowego. Ale widocznie tym razem było to o trzy za dużo jak dla dla 70-letniego mężczyzny. Kilka dni później zaczęło boleć mnie lewe kolano. Na początku nie zwróciłem na to uwagi. Pomyślałem, że pewnie samo przejdzie, jeśli przez tydzień nie będę nadwyrężać nogi. Ale nie przeszło. Po tygodniu kolano spuchło okropnie, a kiedy prawie nie mogłem już chodzić, wybrałem się do lekarza.

W ogóle nie pomyślałem o starych dobrych sposobach moich rodziców, po prostu skontaktowałem się ze swoim doktorem. Ten wysłał mnie od razu do kliniki na badania. W klinice popatrzyli na moje spuchnięte kolano, pokiwali głowami, zrobili prześwietlenie i stwierdzili, że potrzebuję fizykoterapii. Powiedziałem, że świetnie i zapisałem się na czternaście sesji w pobliskim ośrodku rehabilitacyjnym.

Kiedy kończyłem terapię z końcem czerwca, czułem się lepiej. Opuchlizna zeszła prawie zupełnie, a chodzenie wywoływało ledwie odczuwalny ból. Moja fizykoterapeutka poleciła mi kontynuować ćwiczenia i zapewniła, że wkrótce będę miał kolana jak dwudziestolatek. Na zakończenie terapii wręczyła mi nawet podkoszulek z napisem „Kocham fizykoterapię!”.

Wszystko szło dobrze aż do sierpnia. Pewnego poranka spojrzałem na moje lewe kolano i okazało się, że jest spuchnięte bardziej niż kiedykolwiek przedtem. W dodatku kuśtykałem bardziej niż po zrobieniu tych kilku nieszczęsnych pajacyków. Nagle zdałem sobie sprawę, że to nie tylko kolano mi dokucza, ale że boli mnie całe ciało. Klatka piersiowa, żebra, kark, a nawet krocze. Zauważyłem też, że pocę się bez przyczyny. Moja temperatura przekroczyła 100 stopni F, a kiedy wszedłem na wagę okazało się, że straciłem pięć funtów. Co zrobiłem? Oczywiście poszedłem do lekarza. Tym razem doktor wyglądał na zmartwionego i oprócz antybiotyku przepisał mi leki opioidowe, ponieważ ból uniemożliwiał mi chodzenie, stanie, siedzenie, a nawet leżenie.

Myślałem, że w końcu mój lekarz znalazł przyczynę schorzenia, a antybiotyki i opiaty wyleczą moje spuchnięte lewe kolano, usuną ból i przywrócą apetyt, żebym przestał tracić na wadze. Nic z tego. Gorączka, ból i opuchlizna powróciły. Dostałem kolejną dawkę antybiotyków i środków przeciwbólowych, a doktor umówił mnie do ortopedy z nadzieją, że specjalista ustali, o co chodzi w całym tym bałaganie.

A ja? Chciałbym, żeby moi rodzice żyli, żebym mógł zapytać mamę, co brać na gorączkę i ból, a tatę, czy chce zejść ze mną do piwnicy, usiąść przy kominku i wypić wspólnie butelkę wódki.

The Age of Medical Miracles and Wonders

When I was a kid, I seldom saw my parents go to doctors.
When my mom and dad had an ache here or there, they would use the remedies they brought with them when they crossed the seas from Poland. If my mom had a cold coming on, sometimes she would take a clove of garlic and rub it on her nose. If she had a swollen ankle, she’d drink some water mixed with vinegar. If she saw that I had some kind of ulcerations or bruises on my legs or arms, she’d warm up some cabbage leaves and wrap my bruises in them. If the remedies she believed in didn’t clear up the problem, she’d go visit her friend, the Polish herbalist down near Milwaukee and Division, and get a second opinion.
My dad tended to take a different but equally unusual approach. If his back was throbbing from trying to lift a 50-gallon trashcan by himself or if his hands were hurting from some kind of assembly-line accident he experienced down at the factory, he would grab a bottle of vodka and go down to the basement of the apartment building we lived in near Humboldt Park. Down there, he’d open up the furnace door, pull up a chair, and start drinking the vodka – slowly of course – and letting it and the heat from the furnace do their stuff. Generally, a couple of hours later, he’d come up starts smiling and feeling better.
Sometimes I think my parents had the right idea.
About seven months ago, I was doing some jumping jacks. I wasn’t doing a lot, just three as a part of a daily exercise regimen, but I guess three was too many for a 70 year-old man. A couple days later, I noticed that I had some pain in my left knee. At first, I didn’t give it any mind. I figured it would go away if I just took it easy for a week. But it didn’t go away. After a week, the swelling around my knee was so bad and walking was so difficult that I decided to see my doctor.
I didn’t think at all about what my Polish parents with their old-world health remedies would have suggested. I just contacted my doctor. He sent me to an urgent-care facility connected to his office. They looked at the swollen knee, nodded their heads, took X-rays, and said I needed physical therapy. I said great and started doing fourteen sessions at the local therapy center.
When I got done at the end of June, I was feeling better. The swelling had gone down a lot and walking was only a little painful. The physical therapist told me to keep doing the exercises and soon I would have the knees of a twenty-year old. She even celebrated my successful graduation from physical therapy by giving me a red T-shirt that says, “I Love Physical Therapy!”
Things were going well until the start of August. I looked at my left knee one morning, and it was swollen more than it had ever been before. And I was limping like I hadn’t been limping since a couple days after that jumping jack fiasco. And I suddenly realized that it wasn’t only my knee that was bothering me, but I had aches and pains all over my body, in my chest, my ribs, my neck, and even in my groin area. And I noticed also that I was sweating for some reason. My temperature was hovering around 100.3. And when I got on the scale I immediately realized I had lost five pounds.
I did what any modern person would do. I went to see my doctor again. He was shocked and gave me a couple cortisone shots. I was great for two days. Then all the pain, fever, and misery came back, and I lost another five pounds.
And what did I do then? I went to see my doctor. Of course. This time he was even more shocked, and he prescribed not only an antibiotic but also an opioid for the pain that was making it almost impossible for me to walk, stand, sit, or lie down.
I thought that finally we had found out what the problem was, and the antibiotics and opioids would fix the swelling in my left knee, rid my body of all the pain and all the sweating, and give me back my appetite so I would stop losing all this weight.
But it didn’t. The fever and the pain and the swelling are back. And I’ve been given another set of opioids and another two-week round of antibiotics, and the doctor set up an appointment to see an orthopedic surgeon in the hopes that he can figure out what this mess is all about.
And me? I wish my parents were still alive, so I could ask my mom what she would take for my pain and fever, and I would ask my dad if he wanted to go down to the basement with me and sit by the fireplace and share a bottle of vodka.

John Guzlowski

amerykański pisarz i poeta polskiego pochodzenia. Publikował w wielu pismach literackich, zarówno w USA, jak i za granicą, m.in. w „Writer’s Almanac”, „Akcent”, „Ontario Review” i „North American Review”. Jego wiersze i eseje opisujące przeżycia jego rodziców – robotników przymusowych w nazistowskich Niemczech oraz uchodźców wojennych, którzy emigrowali do Chicago – ukazały się we wspomnieniowym tomie pt. „Echoes of Tattered Tongues”. W 2017 roku książka ta zdobyła nagrodę poetycką im. Benjamina Franklina oraz nagrodę literacką Erica Hoffera, za najbardziej prowokującą do myślenia książkę roku. Jest również autorem dwóch powieści kryminalnych o detektywie Hanku Purcellu oraz powieści wojennej pt. „Road of Bones”. John Guzlowski jest emerytowanym profesorem Eastern Illinois University.

John Guzlowski’s writing has been featured in Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, Akcent, Ontario Review, North American Review, and other journals here and abroad.  His poems and personal essays about his Polish parents’ experiences as slave laborers in Nazi Germany and refugees in Chicago appear in his memoir Echoes of Tattered Tongues.  Echoes received the 2017 Benjamin Franklin Poetry Award and the Eric Hoffer Foundation’s Montaigne Award for most thought-provoking book of the year.  He is also the author of two Hank Purcell mysteries and the war novel Road of Bones.  Guzlowski is a Professor Emeritus at Eastern Illinois University.

 

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Categories: Guzlowski

Comments

  1. Anonim
    Anonim 30 września, 2019, 14:54

    I love reading John’s column and hang on every update which he pens. Good work John n the poetry is the cream on the cake.

    Reply this comment
  2. Anonim
    Anonim 30 września, 2019, 15:25

    John, thank you. This hits home for any number of reasons.

    Reply this comment
  3. Anonim
    Anonim 30 września, 2019, 16:05

    Wrap the knee in cabbage leaves and drink the vodka! (Oh and maybe an MRI will diagnose the problem) 😀

    Reply this comment
  4. Anonim
    Anonim 30 września, 2019, 16:06

    Have you got a fire pit that could sub for dad’s furnace? Best wishes healing!

    Reply this comment
  5. Anonim
    Anonim 30 września, 2019, 16:19

    Your medical mishaps are worth writing about and maybe others will take note. My family believed in modern medicine, the osteopathic variety. Back in my day in Detroit there were osteopathic hospitals. My mother did make a steeped chamomile with strong honey to help us sleep. That was an old world remedy and it really worked. But she had an older brother who died of complications from tuberculosis while my mother was in my grandmother’s womb. My mother was born in 1914 with a caul of grief nothing could remedy and so many horrors still awaited her. But my dad had health insurance eventually through UAW at Ford, so that may have helped their willingness to accept modern medicine. And my mother’s first born died at birth, but that’s another story. I am glad to have read yours.

    Reply this comment
    • Christina Pacosz
      Christina Pacosz 1 października, 2019, 08:58

      I forgot to add that both aptekas in our neighborhood on West Warren Ave. had goldfish bowls of leeches prominently displayed on the pharmacy counter. We didn’t use leeches but I was always intrigued by the people in my neighborhood who did. This was in the 1950’s long before leeches were used again effectively treating wounds/etc.

      Reply this comment
      • john guzlowski
        john guzlowski 1 października, 2019, 09:37

        Wow! Leeches! When I was a kid I had some kind of stomach trouble. My mom took me to the doctor first and he gave me some kind of pill that didn’t work. Then she took me to the herbalist who worked up this crazy gray jelly like cold soup. And I had to drink a big glass of it everyday. It was terrible! And it didn’t cure anything! It wasn’t until 30 years later that I learned I was allergic to meat. I became a vegetarian and my stomach trouble vanished.

        Reply this comment
  6. Halina
    Halina 30 września, 2019, 16:45

    Thanks for the reminders about the value of bridging old and new healing methods to solve our health related problems! Sto Lat! 🙂

    Reply this comment
  7. Anon
    Anon 30 września, 2019, 17:39

    I hope you are feeling better soon! And if not, maybe vodka and heat aren’t the worst back up plans…

    Reply this comment
  8. smcr
    smcr 30 września, 2019, 18:08

    A doctor told me that we tolerate alcohol because it makes the bacteria and viruses woozy. Drink up!

    Reply this comment
  9. Anonim
    Anonim 30 września, 2019, 18:32

    Oh how I also wish my parents were still here to help. Mom’s remedies were especially effective. I fondly remember cold vinegar compresses to draw out the pain of headaches–even though I probably just needed glasses:-)

    Reply this comment
  10. gretchen
    gretchen 30 września, 2019, 18:35

    I wish our parents were still here to help. I fondly remember their remedies especially those cold vinegar compresses to draw out headache pain–although I probably just needed glasses.

    Reply this comment
  11. Tija
    Tija 30 września, 2019, 19:25

    Wow! I had a tick disease, which was cured by antibiotics, too. It’s interesting how families dealt with pain and infection before antibiotic became availble. My family is mostly Latvian (and Swedish) and it seemed camomile tea was the cure for all ills.

    Reply this comment
  12. Cindy
    Cindy 1 października, 2019, 08:39

    I also enjoy John’s stories

    Reply this comment
  13. kathyc
    kathyc 1 października, 2019, 08:42

    Another very interesting column from John Guzlowski. Keep them coming!

    Reply this comment
  14. Yael
    Yael 1 października, 2019, 12:05

    There was a time when going to doctors was a dangerous business; you never knew if the doctor knew anything or was just a quack. And you were just as likely to die of sepsis from an unsanitised scalpel as you were to get better. Sadly, it looks like going to doctors (at least in some places) is again becoming a dangerous business. I hope the antibiotics eventually kick in. Meanwhile, stock up on vodka and cabbage!

    Reply this comment
    • Jean B
      Jean B 7 października, 2019, 20:31

      I’m with Yael. In a lot of ways, medicine today is getting more fraught, not less. Looking forward to your next installment, John!

      Reply this comment
  15. Marty
    Marty 7 października, 2019, 21:28

    You go to the doctor and so often they play percentages and if you have something unusual, they may never find it. Good luck.

    Reply this comment
  16. Anonim
    Anonim 8 października, 2019, 07:37

    Well done John! I enjoy your articles.

    Reply this comment
  17. Robert
    Robert 8 października, 2019, 16:17

    John and I were in the same Catholic grammar school kindergarten class in Chicago, lost contact with each other, then reconnected years later, during high school, by accident. Since then our friendship has remained constant, regardless of the geographic distance between us. I read his column, in English, regularly and hope that you will let him continue to share his life stories with us, his readers, his community.

    Reply this comment
    • john guzlowski
      john guzlowski 9 października, 2019, 15:33

      Thank you all for the comments. It’s a great feeling knowing people are reading and enjoying your words.

      Reply this comment

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