Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Half a hippy

I grew up half a hippy with one parent slathering on the home-style remedies and the other riding with mainstream Western medicine. My folks were divorced, so there were two homes, two approaches to our healthcare, and the occasional cross-over and frustration between the two. Dear Boy might just end up one quarter hippy. We have one home but Lovely Husband and I have some differences on how we care for our boy. 

Being half a hippy, I reach for the natural products, the home remedies and occasionally the wives tales first when the illness or accident is mild. I kick it old school. Old, old school. 

When he bruises, I go for the Arnica. When he's scratched and scraped, I go for the Calendula. When he's itchy, I dab on the lavender oil or the tea tree. When there are bugs about, I go for the citronella. When he is sniffly and coughing, I steam it up and rub a few drops of eucalyptus on his feet (and I don't even know why - how does putting it on his feet even help?). When he's this or that, I massage his pressure points. When he's restless before bed, I try chamomile tea.

For months, I thought every ache or pain was teething. Lovely Husband goes straight for the Bonjela, an aspirin-esque teething gel. But dosing him with Panadol or Nurofen when there was really no sign of them coming through didn't sit well with me. So I went with Amber Beads and some Homepathic Teething Drops (others swear by Hyland's homeopathic teething tablets, but I could never find them). The necklace seemed to help with the drooling but it's difficult to tell if there was any correlation between it and a reduction in tooth pain. I figure it couldn't hurt.

This is really my main healthcare motto. If it couldn't hurt to try the natural option, give it a whirl. If it's not going to make him worse, why not put certain herbs or spices in his food, sprinkle cinnamon on some grated apple if he's got the runs? If it's not going to make him sick or sicker, why not put a few drops of this or that in a cup of honey tea?

But there is really only so far I go with my hippy half. Only so far I believe natural medicine can go before Developed Modern Medicine needs to take over. Natural medicine is the origin, the original healer, but we learned more about how the body works and developed some bigger and better options because of that. I think an adherence to natural medicine or superstition or things like prayer are fine to a degree. And they're certainly fine for yourself if you have a strong belief they will work and cure you of disease and illness - refuse treatment for yourself all you like; treat your cancer with carrots, I don't really care, that's your choice. But I also believe when a child's life is on the line, you do whatever it takes. You put aside your basic philosophies if you have to and get that kid well.

So when shit turns serious this boy is Developed Modern Medicine all the way. When his fever spikes up to 39.6 degrees, we give him Nurofen. When he cracks his head on a rock in the garden, I take him to the Emergency Department. When his chest rattles when he breathes, I take him to the GP. When we're all sick as dogs and I have blood tests that confirm I have a bacterial pneumonia, I am happy to treat the whole family with antibiotics as the doctor recommends. When he is miserable and awake at all hours, we go for the Panadol.

And yeah, we use the 5-12 years Panadol because I'm tired of being rorted by small bottles and the company's decision to make some age-groups concentrated and some not. Note, the box has dosages for one year olds as well, but it costs half as much as a bottle half the size that's specifically for infants and older babies.

And that Flo nasal spray is my new friend. Soooo much better than the Fess Little Noses. This one sprays from the bottom, and that must change something because Dear Boy will actually sit still while I do it. And he'll offer me the other nostril. It must not jam into his nose or not spray as hard or something. Whatever it is, I'm in love. 

I've been reading some interesting things about healing kids. The Little Gnome's Home had a sweet blog post about keeping a little basket of home-style medicinal goodies handy and letting the kids take a part in their own healing. That sense of autonomy is one I'm hoping to develop with Dear Boy. At the moment when he hurts, he insists on kisses - one on each hand, regardless of where he bumped or bruised himself. There will be a point later when he should have a say about how he heals - whether he wants the balm or the band-aid, the oil or the Panadol. But it'll always be moderated by us - keeping track of drugs and dosages and interactions. 

In April, this court case made for interesting and disturbing reading. A 17 year old boy raised as  Jehovah's Witness refused a blood transfusion as part of his treatment for Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He agreed to chemo and other life-saving treatments, but refused the necessary transfusion, even though it would increase his chance of survival. If the parents were involved and refused to give consent for the child because of their faith, I would fully expect them to be charged with some kind of crime - that's the law. As an adult, he would have to have his wishes respected. But this was a boy, 10 months off becoming an official adult himself, arguing he would rip out an IV if they tried to give him the blood products. He told the doctor if he was sedated and given the transfusion it would akin to rape. Cases like this usually involve much younger kids and are more cut and dried. Here, the judge ordered the teenager to undergo the transfusion but it raises an interesting question about when children should be allowed to make such important decisions about their own bodies, their own lives. At what point should we overrule their fear, their lack of knowledge or world experience, their judgement, their choices? And at what point do we let them make choices that may affect whether they live or die?

Do you go full hippy with your kids? Half and half? Developed Modern Medicine all the way? How do you feel about children's autonomy with regards to their own health and welfare?


  1. I am half and half. A little bit of this and a little bit of that. Each child is different and each child will need and respond to different remedies in their own way.

  2. Biiiiig questions!! I think that common sense is usually what we are all working with, so major discrepancies are a rarity between child and parent, really. Which is to say - at what age does common sense really kick in for kids??

    As for the first aid kit - I go with whatever works best and about 95% of the time I reckon that's the old-school remedy.

    1. Common sense, though, is such a fickle thing - not only prone to being wrong but also different according to different cultures, values, etc. It's an interesting question about when it kicks in for kids - at what age do they become (somewhat/more/a little bit) rational rather than primarily reactive and emotional.


Thanks for taking the time to respond to what you have read here at Lilybett and Boy. I love reading through all your comments.


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