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Fighting a common cold

By Clif Knight

Many medical offices have newcomer patients arrive 30 minutes before their doctor’s appointment. They are asked to fill out and sign a handful of personal health history forms, certify their authenticity with a signature and show proof of insurance coverage along with a picture ID card.

I went through that regimen several days ago after suffering from the effects of a common cold – a sore throat, a stuffy head and a cough that’s resulted in spitting up globs of yellow mucus.

A nurse practitioner confirmed I had a common cold and told me the symptoms would last seven to 10 days. She recommended plenty or rest and a diet of fruit juices and soup, and she ordered three prescriptions she said would help me feel better.

The prescriptions helped, but they’re gone, and I’m still fighting the lingering effects of the cold.

What a big step it is, from where medicine was when I was a kid 75 years ago and where it is today.

Because family practice medical doctors were few and far between, you didn’t visit one unless you had a broken limb or were suffering from excruciating pain. Home remedies were used to treat the common cold as well as most other illnesses back them.

I am reminded that, although I was too young to remember, I was taken to a doctor for examination and treatment twice before I was 4 years old.

I fell from a moving wagon loaded with corn when I was 2. One of the rear wheels ran over my chest and knocked me unconscious. A year later, I was rushed to the doctor’s office after I fell under the rear wheels of a school bus. Fortunately, I escaped with only bruises to my legs.

Even though there were no permanent injuries, my health was a concern voiced repeatedly by several of my aunts during their infrequent visits. They would look me over from head to foot and question my parents: “What’s wrong with Clifton? He looks puny. You ought to give him some medicine.”

I resented their unqualified diagnosis because I knew I was just as healthy as my siblings and cousins. I could hold my own with them no matter what we were doing – running, jumping, climbing or wrestling.

In keeping with their opinion, however, my parents decided a daily dose of mineral oil was what I needed. I hated the stuff and still get no pleasure in taking medicine of any kind.

To make matters worse, however, my daily dose of medicine was compounded when my siblings and me were lined up in front of the fireplace and given a portion of home remedies before bedtime. Our teaspoon of cure was sugar saturated with kerosene for croup, a swallow of honey for cough and a whiff of heated Vick’s salve for a stuffy nose.