Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – When I’m Sick

My life in appalachia when I'm sick

Some families seems to go from one sickness outbreak to another. Thankfully the Blind Pig bunch stays on the healthy side of things. However, recently the girls have been feeling puny. Two days in one week Chatter and I found ourselves sitting in the doctor’s office. We reminisced about doctor visits of days gone by while we sat and waited.

We giggled over the way Chatter and Chitter used to fight their doctor even when they weren’t sick and about how I wouldn’t let them play with any of the toys for fear of germs. I pointed out a picture in the waiting room and told Chatter the picture was at the old office, the one I took them to for their very first check up when they were only two weeks old.

Hopefully the girls are now on the mend. But during their sickness I was reminded of how when you’re sick you find yourself wanting certain things to eat. One typically doesn’t have much of an appetite when they’re sick so I suppose that’s part of it. For me, when I’m feeling under the weather, I find myself wanting the things Granny fed me when I was sick as a child.

I want cinnamon toast and chocolate milk. I want ice-cream of any sort or fashion. I want a cold sprite or a tall glass of cold water with a straw.

Some folks would have you think every sick person in Appalachia heads out to the still in the backyard for something to make them feel better. The truth is much more mundane than that-like I said cinnamon toast and chocolate milk.


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.

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  • Reply
    Granny Norma
    March 17, 2014 at 10:42 am

    I decided to pass this along because
    no one else had the same cures as we did. If you have a cough and sore throat, take a tablespoon of half honey and half fresh squeezed lemon juice. Mullein tea helps some. Breathe lots of steam. We always had hot vaporizers set up in the bedroom. Gargle with salt water. Also cover your chest in Vick’s Vapo-rub. I use Ben Gay menthol gel now. It’s not sticky and you can even put a little on your sinus areas to relieve pressure. It will help with a headache if you put it on your forehead, temples back of your neck and just up into your hair a bit. It’s very good for clearing your nose; so is eucalyptus oil.
    For tummy troubles: 7-Up. When I was a kid, we weren’t allowed soda pop except for parties. But if we were throwing up, we got some to settle our stomachs. Drink lots of chicken broth, not the weak canned stuff. Cook those chicken bones overnight at a low simmer so it’s nice and strong. Two old fashioned cures we got was: (#1)the worst tasting medicine in the world — Paregoric (ugh!) You couldn’t take that stuff straight. It had to be mixed. My mother would make a “tea” with a teaspoon of Paregoric and two teaspoons of sugar in a cup of very hot water. It would settle the tummy and send you to bed for a rest. If you were feeling better after that, you could have milk toast. Here’s how you make it: Toast a piece of bread and spread it with butter. Place it in the bottom of a shallow bowl. Pour on scalded milk, add a sprinkle of pepper and salt to taste. Let it set till the toast is soft. Not too bad. My brother still likes it. I used to give it to my children when they felt puny but I haven’t had any in probably 50 years.
    As soon as the weather improves, get out in the fresh air and sunshine.

  • Reply
    March 16, 2014 at 12:14 am

    aww tipper so sorry to hear that you have been feeling ucky.. im having tea right now.. so ill just put another cup on for you both.. that always seems to be the thing i reach for .. but you know.. cinnamon has properties in it that are supposed to sooth the stomach.. so guess your granny knew what she was doing..
    hope you have a wonderful weekend and know that spring is here.. as i too have heard the robins and doves … and see little sprouts of green here and there… sigh..
    sending big ladybug hugs and love

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    March 16, 2014 at 12:13 am

    It depends on whats wrong with me, if I’ve got “the bug”- it’s chicken soup with a baked tater. If it’s “the crud”- well, it’s out back to the still…

  • Reply
    Donna W
    March 15, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Graham crackers and milk. Poached eggs mixed up with broken-up saltines. Tomato soup.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    March 15, 2014 at 11:45 am

    I’m well now, but before Thanksgiving
    and after for about 3 weeks, I was so
    puny from a Chest Virus. Hope Chatter
    is better again and feels like singing that Beautiful Harmony with Chitter.
    Looks like we’re in for a few days of
    rain. By the time the ground dries back up, it’ll be time for me to plant some things. I ain’t got nuthin’ in the ground yet!…Ken

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    March 15, 2014 at 11:09 am

    As a child, I was sick a lot. Mama fed me certain things that I never had at other times: egg custard, hot tea served with saltine crackers that had been spread with butter, sprinkled with paprika, and toasted under the broiler until golden. Now, I often make custard, and I drink hot tea all winter long, but when I’m sick I still think about those delicious crackers!

  • Reply
    March 15, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Chicken Broth, Saltines, and 7-up as a kid, although now I’ll have Sprite or Sierra Mist. Not much else sets well on an upset stomach.
    Stuffy sinuses, coughs, and the elephant on the chest led me to a now popular family “cure” through the seredipitous offerings of my students. Trying to teach through a sore throat and persistent coughs is a challenge. One boy offered me his “atomic fireballs” saying these cinnamon candies always opened his sinuses. Another child shared some lemon drops when I ran our of cough drops. Leading discussions with a mouth full of candy was also a challenge and at one point, as I was coughing, I inhaled a mostly finished lemon drop – then inspiration hit me: I put two fireballs and 4-6 lemon drops in a mug, filled it with boiling water, stirred until melted and discovered a wonderfully relieving drink to sip on while teaching. It became popular in my oldest son’s dorm that year and the granddaughters now ask for Grandma’s coughing drink when they get stuffy noses and sore throats (sore throats do require a higher proportion of lemon drops 😉 ).
    One more thing about twins: my dad and his twin almost always become ill at the same time even though they live some 500 miles apart and the illnesses always have similar symptoms: when Dad broke his foot, Uncle sprained his ankle; they both get colds at the same time no matter what is going on in their local families; two weeks ago they both had nausea and chest pains which “fortunately” turned out to be flu bugs and angina – twinship is an interesting thing. . . .

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    March 15, 2014 at 11:00 am

    The reference to the size of Coke and Pepsi brings to mind something I have been thinking about. When I was a child in the fifties, “dranks” were sold in 6oz bottles for a nickle. Then a “large” size 8oz was introduced for a dime. Dr Pepper pulled the stops out and went to 10oz. Then the bottlers were off to the size wars, culminating in the 2 liter plastic bottle. Recently, I have seen advertisements for small 8oz cans. I checked the price in a local market. Eight of the small cans cost as much or more than a six-pack of the 12 oz, yet contains 8oz less of the drink. I also see that the 6oz bottles of Coke are available at an extravagant price.

  • Reply
    March 15, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Orange sherbert push ups which are hard to find now. Home made potato soup–Mama used to say if you couldn’t eat tater soup you’d better get to the doctor. Coke or water with tons of ice. Scrambled eggs & toast. Crushed ice for stomach upset. Hope yall are feeling better–we’ve been puny for a month & a half but are better now. If the sun would shine, I think we’d be cured.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    March 15, 2014 at 10:49 am

    When we were little, and had the stomach flu, after a while she would fix us a small glass of ginger ale, chicken noodle soup and saltine crackers…If all that stayed down for a day, then we got heavier foods…I generally do the same as a grown up.
    If I get a croupy cold/cough I eat oranges right to the rind and take teaspoons of a good honey. That usually helps the cough.
    When I just don’t feel good at all, and not sure what the problem is…my comfort food is plain noodles, with salt/pepper and a bit of butter or margarine, with a small glass of milk!
    When I was taking Chemo the only thing I could eat and kkep down for a day was Kraft macaroni and cheese with chopped tomatoes in it and a soda of some type! Sometimes I could eat when I’m sick plain soda crackers, a lettuce wedge, with tomato and a non-spicy light dressing! Go figure…
    After I get well, that is when I go to the back woods to the still or dig me out some good smelling herbs. I then put them in a bag, tie them around my heck and dance a little jig!…If I can stand up after this and remember my way back to the back door, I know I’m well!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 15, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I have been severely afflicted for months now by winteritis. I am feeling much better lately and all it took was a good dose of sunshine and daffodils.

  • Reply
    March 15, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Hope you folks feel better so you can enjoy the beautiful day. My Mom used to give us something called Ovaltine. I tried it once after I got older, but it did not seem to have that same soothing effect. I love pancakes when I feel badly. Yes, you are right that some think we Appalachians run right out to a still barefoot to get our medicine. Well, the barefoot may be typical in the summer. This reminds me of when I used to read from an extremely outdated library in grade school. I went for years thinking people from Holland were running around in wooden shoes.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    March 15, 2014 at 10:00 am

    Tipper, I love potato soup and ice cream.

  • Reply
    March 15, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Hopefully everyone is feeling better by now! It’s allergy season in the Ohio Valley that gets me every year. I can be well all winter and feel puny from March through April. Unfortunately, there’s no loss of appetite during that time.

  • Reply
    jose Luis
    March 15, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Hi Tipper
    When small children were sick, always had very special characteristics.
    I always remember when I was in bed, my mother bought me coke, which at that time (late 40’s and 50 ¨), came in small glass bottles (maybe there too). And I asked “views”, which was a unit of aluminum with a double visor that my dear father had brought from Spain in 1929, and allowed to see ancient photographs dimensional shape toward or away the photograph on a rail, even I have this device is called:
    “THE PERFECSCOPE”(not perfect scope), Trade Mark U.S.A. patent Oct 1895/jun 1902.
    Regards to all, and again I say, The Lord has made us all his children, more alike than we think, José Luis, from Argentina.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    March 15, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Chicken noodle soup for me and a cold coke to sip on. Fortunately I am not sick often but my wife who is a nurse will tell you I’m a bad patient. I just want to be left alone and tend to be a bit grumpy. Even if I did have a a still in the back yard I think a slug of that would be the last thing I wanted to ingest! I knew an old baptist preacher who had a brandy tottie every night. He said it kept him well. Must of worked because he lived into his nineties.

  • Reply
    March 15, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Sorry you had the girls under the weather, however, twins are like that. They like to share even if they have separate rooms. My mom was always a believer in chicken soup. Hot chocolate sounds good to me, so I might try that the next time I’m under the weather. Toast is always good at any time. Tea instead of the still, with some local honey works for me.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 15, 2014 at 7:42 am

    Soda crackers and coke, that’s what they gave me when I was little and it is still what I want when I am sick or feeling bad.
    The salt on the saltines and the carbonation in the coke always helps and upset stomach and the sugar in the coke gives the illusion of having energy, which makes me feel like I’m getting better.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    March 15, 2014 at 7:29 am

    We got 7-Up when I was a kid, because Sprite had not come along yet. I also remember hot vegetable soup out of a can with crackers. I almost never lost my appetite when I got sick, unless it was stomach-related, so my Mom kept busy feeding me.

  • Reply
    March 15, 2014 at 7:29 am

    Hot tea and toast or my magic cure-all of Pepsi and saltine crackers!!

  • Reply
    March 15, 2014 at 7:22 am

    Hope all is better,, flu has slowed down around here but the stomach virus is running rampede, so far we have not had either one, we had to carry our daughter yesterday to the Doctor to get here baclofen pump refilled, we were paranoid to touch anything for fear we might catch something, we actually seen a cashier in Wal-mart wearing disposable gloves, can’t much blame them..

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    March 15, 2014 at 7:14 am

    ginger ale for me

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