Run for Your Eye!

I grew up in the country, surrounded by animals, dust and all sorts of bacteria and viruses that seemed to be extremely curious about the thin layer covering children’s eyeballs. So my cousins and I got pinkeye at least once a year. Our parents maintained a stash of antibiotics—hospitals are not that accessible when you live in the blessed boondocks. But the synthetic ointment was always used as a last resort. Whenever conjunctivitis attacked the prepubescent bit of the tribe, the first line of defense was breast milk.

Yes, breast milk; when you grow up using things like dried goat’s feces to treat certain wounds, you don’t frown at a bit of breast milk in your eye… unless the breast providing said milk belonged to Tia Chiguete. Auntie Squirt wasn’t really anyone’s auntie, by the way, but in those days anyone older than you was an aunt or uncle.

Anyhoo, most ladies were happy to deposit some milk in a cup. Then a parent would find an eye dropper and we would get treated. But Tia Chiguete demanded to squirt every afflicted in the eye. Maybe she was testing her aim or something. Who knows! The woman had enormous tatas that I’m sure gave every kid—not just me—nightmares about drowning; or at least, about being the helpless victims of waterboarding.


Today, I’m 37-years-old and very far away from my home village. I’m pretty sure that if I went around my building asking who was breastfeeding someone would probably call the police. So it was to the hospital for me and my conjunctivitis. I already had 3 appointments scheduled for today. And my doctor’s super nurse found a way to squeeze the eye clinic in between.

I saw the eye doctor after my second scheduled appointment. I was very happy to see that he was rather flat-chested, so he couldn’t possibly be breastfeeding. He examined my eyeballs, made small talk about how much it sucked to wake up with one’s eyes stuck together, and prescribed some eye drops and cold compresses.

“Don’t worry too much about it,” he said. “It will be gone in one to two weeks.”

“Two weeks?” I stared at him. My eyes hurt too much for me to hear the one bit. And maybe time moved faster when I was a kid, but I dont remember ever having pinkeye for two weeks.

“It will get much better before that long. Just give it some time.”

“Okay,” I said, looking at his chest expectantly. But no, the man had nothing under his shirt.

I walked to my next appointment wondering if Tia Chiguete was somewhere, laughing at me, saying, “I bet you wouldn’t mind a squirting right now, Fireball!”

Ah, the good old days…

Runner, by CraftBench

38 comments:

  1. Well, THAT'S one home remedy I've never heard of before, LOL! My, my, my.

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    1. Can you imagine going around your neighborhood searching for healing? LOL!

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  2. believe it or not I have heard of the breast milk thing, my Granny told us about it but as none of the women in my family where good producers( except me) it was never used on my generation. Hope the eyes feel better soon.

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    1. Such a brilliant Granny! How is it that grannies know everything?

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  3. Well, I feel better about having to use eyedrops now I guess! :P At least breast milk is human so you can't be allergic to it like cow's milk.

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    1. I never minded the breast milk of a family member or family friend (with some many infectious diseases out there one can't be too careful). I still wish I knew someone who was lactating; breast milk often works much quicker than the store bought stuff.

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    2. ...and let's not forget the great story that goes with it!

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  4. Lol...one of my Aunts used to put urine soaked nappies(diapers) on her face to ward of wrinkles...only baby girls urine though. She still has the softest skin I have ever touched :D XXX

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  5. Our baby's pediatrician told us about it! That if she ever got an eye trouble we should put some breastmilk!

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    1. You tell your baby's pediatrician that he has earned all kinds of points in my book. If I ever go to Greece (and I have a baby, lol) I know who I'm asking for. All jokes aside, I do love when doctors don't forget the old ways. It makes me trust them more.

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  6. I was in La Leche League when my kids were tiny and boy would they have loved this bit of info! LOL, I'll file it away to share with my kids, should they ever decide to reproduce.

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    1. I love the name "La Leche League"! What did they do? They collected it and shared it? What was it about?

      And yes, that is good info to put away, methinks.

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  7. Vinegar on your feet for a fever, cold pinto beans on a bad burn, mustard plaster on your chest for a cold, peppermint on your temples for a headache and breastmilk for an eye infection were all gifts given to me from my Auntie Sallo. When I was young it all seemed so silly, now "I Believe". Your "auntie" and her extra ample tatas made me laugh out loud.
    Wish you did know someone lactating then you wouldn't have to endure such a long recovery. I'm just glad that you at least got something for it. I would make a remark about the lack of said disease at our house but then......well you know what would happen.
    xoxo giggling all the way, Oma

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    1. Isn't it marvelous how so many things that seemed silly in the past make so much sense after we've lived some years? I hope your Auntie Sallo is reading this. .-)

      I second your wish. My eyeballs hurt a bit, right now.

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  8. I have many pleasant memories of "old days", "old ways" and "Aunts and Uncles"

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    1. Don't we all... Wouldn't it be nice to go back to when we were little and wild?

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  9. and did it work? really? the breast milk I mean.

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  10. Wow. From now on I will hunt down whoever is lactating when pinkeye decided to visit. Conjunctivitis is miserable as an adult, isn't it? Hope u feel better soon.

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    1. Just make sure that you know them! You know how infectious fluids can be, so only from people you know and trust. And yes, it is quite the miserable situation. Thank goodness it's not permanent!

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  11. Great story! So many healing techniques from folk medicine have been poo-pooed into oblivion. I am glad that even science is starting to see that Grannies knew best!

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    1. Maybe many grannies are becoming scientists?

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  12. Well this explains why babies have such wide, clear eyes, no? A really wonderful story. Made me chuckle. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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  13. Great story! I had no idea!

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    1. Blog and learn. And giggle, every now and then. ;-)

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  14. 2Weeks! Hope you're feeling better...even though you have to use factory stuff.

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one outraged by the given healing time. Insanity!

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  15. This made me giggle, I've never heard of it before but it is an interesting remedy.

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    1. Giggling is good for the soul. Writing it made me chuckle, too. I had such contempt (to disguise fear) for Tia Chiguete, but now I can only think of her as a really hysterical character.

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  16. That is absolutely a wonderful childhood story - I could tell I was slipping into the grip of a great story teller because it was unfolding in front of me in living colour as i read. What a treat!! Hope your eyes are better !!! PS Do you think breast milk ice cream would work? I think some stores in NY carry it! :)

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    1. While I wrote this, I remember thinking, Francie will like it. I'm glad you did. Breast milk ice cream... I never thought about it!

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  17. Breast milk! Sounds like a sanitary thing to squirt in your eye :P I hope you feel better soon! I've never had conjunctivitis but it sounds horrible!

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    1. "a sanitary thing to squirt in your eye," lol! You are too funny, Jennifer.

      Thank you for the good wishes. And yes, it's quite horrible. ;-(

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  18. This is hilarious! I have never heard of this before! My mom is laughing too!
    I do hope your eyes are better very soon!!
    Big Hugs ;o)

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    1. My eyes are doing way better. I get all happy every time I know you and your mom are reading something together. I swear, one day before long I have to fly to Canada so that we can cackle together... and cook something yummy!

      Hugs to you and Mama Crow! ♥

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  19. I use baby wash or baby shampoo for pink eye. Even getting it IN the eye doesn't affect much since they're tear free. I have heard the breastmilk thing before, though. However, I can't say I want someone with enormous tatas squirting me in the eyeball. LOL I might have nightmares now. :P

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