IMG_4092I grew up believing that many ailments could be remedied with salt water and vicks vapour rub.

When I had a cold my mum would send me to school with a reused medicine bottle filled with scotch-whisky.

Being of good Italian stock it was not uncommon for children to drink un bicchierino di vino at the dinner table or a lemonade and beer shandy to perk one’s appetite, god forbid that we might go hungry. My gorgeous Mother, a 1970s woman with modern kitchen utensil, an electric mixer would make us zabaione, laced with percolated coffee or marsala, another remedy for perking the appetite. Zabaione for those of you who do not know is eggs and sugar mixed at high speed to a thick custard and eaten raw for dessert. Now- a -days written on packet cake mix is a health warning of the risks of licking the bowl because it contains raw eggs.

How many bowls have you licked in your life-time and you’re still here! One of life’s simple pleasures.

Since giving birth to my bundle of joy all 4.8 kg of him appropriately named MAX! 12years ago my health has never been the same. Not that I blame him.

Hashimoto’s a thyroid condition has come to live with me, alas the remedy of salt water, vicks vapour rub and a good vino- have not been cures for this condition.

This is a learning curve of sorts that is like being on a rollercoaster ride, You hold on as tight as you can but you just don’t know how high your going to go nor how far you are going to fall- when met with resistance you realise that you are at the beck and call of your health practitioner, your GP, your specialist, whoever is looking after you, you just don’t know. You rely on their advice. You trust them, holding onto every word for fear that if you do not,  you just won’t get better.

The things that make us cry are the things that make us laugh. When we can laugh at our adversity we can cope better with illness.

There is one story I want to tell of a time a rash had appeared on my legs. My doctor referred me to the dermatologist.

Let’s call him Zeus – Greek God- was a very thorough dermatologist, he left no hair unturned, no skin cell unexamined.

He asked me about my condition.

I have a rash on my legs- see.

Go behind the screen and take off your clothes.

Excuse me?

Go behind that screen and take off your clothes – but leave on your underwear.

The rash is on my calves?

I must examine your WHOLE body.


You know that dream when you are in front of a group of people in your underwear? Feeling exposed and the only underwear in the bottom of the draw that morning was the pair with the lose elastic and the bra that does not match.

So I go behind the screen, take off my clothes and sit on the bench in my underwear, waiting, waiting, waiting. Silence and waiting some more.

And then someone comes into the room and opens the curtain “Hello!”

It was the nurse.

“Oh Sorry!” she said.

And I’m left holding myself.

Zeus soon follows and announces the need for a biopsy.

A week later I return, with underwear reserved for the occasion, should the examination be required.

Maria you have what is called rosalie or it might be eczema, but it’s not conclusive, we cannot be sure. So this is how we are going to treat it.

You need to sit in the solarium for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night. We have one here.

(It was summer) Do you think I could sit in the sun?

I will also give you a prescription for a steroid cream. Go to the chemist, take the cream home and apply it ALL OVER YOUR BODY, in your hair, your arms, your torso, your legs, ALL OVER YOUR BODY, morning and night-after you shower.

How long do I have to do this for?”

For one month, apply the cream ALL OVER YOUR BODY, in your hair, your arms, your torso, your legs, ALL OVER YOUR BODY, morning and night-after you shower.

He just kept saying ALL OVER YOUR BODY, like he was seducing the cure for my rash.

OK! OK! I get it! I’ll take my chances with sitting in the sun.

So I go to the chemist and he brings me not one tube, not two tubes but five LARGE 200 gram tubes of cream.

Do I need five tubes? It’s a bit over the top!

“That’s what the prescription says. It’s cheap.”

So I take the tubes home and I put the cream ALL OVER MY BODY morning and night.

Wherever I go I’m like a snail leaving a trail. I feel like a greezy mess. My sheets are stained. I put a towel on the car seat. My clothes need to be washed daily and so to avoid embarrassment, I decide to apply the cream in the evenings only and spend time sitting in the sun every day. Within one week the rash is gone. I had used about ¼ of one tube ALL OVER MY BODY, once a day.

If I think about my mother’s advice of the salt-water treatment, the vino hold the vicks vapour rub, it might have worked just the same, but doctors have this knack of putting the fear of GOD into you, if you do not do as they say. Now that I look back, I know that the salt-water remedy would have worked just the same.

My advice to you – next time a doctor gives you a remedy that seems over the top, grab a bottle of vino. Go sit on the beach, with you legs in the salt water and the sun on your skin and know that if nothing else you will have colour in your cheeks and a smile on your face.










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