A home remedy that really worked

Published 11:39 pm Saturday, November 11, 2006

Have you noticed the current movement back to some of the old remedies for all kinds of ailments.? Out of curiosity the other day I entered “Home Remedies” into the Google Internet engine and was amazed at the result. Hundreds of lists came up and each list offered home remedies for dozens of ailments through the alphabet from acne to yeast control. Most of the lists went on to offer household hints for all sorts of problems in the home. We old timers can remember using baking soda or salt to brush our teeth and, before antacids, we used a pinch of baking soda in water for heartburn. Whiskey was used for everything from cuts to snakebites; from a toddy for relaxing at bedtime to keeping warm when you faced a cold wind in the winter.

A few years ago I wrote a column in which I told about the time I made good use of whiskey to control my visual “spells”. I titled the column ,”I Think I Might Have Been Drunk” and here is what I wrote:

I never cared for the taste of alcohol and certainly do not care for its mood altering effects on those who drink. Having stated my position, I am now about to tell about the one time I might have been drunk. Having had no previous experience in the matter of drink, I cannot say just how drunk I might have been. While I never got drunk again, I must go on to confess that I went on to become a regular user of whiskey. Please stay with me and, hopefully, you will agree that my one episode was understandable and that I was justified in continuing to use alcohol for a couple of years. Let’s say I became a regular drinker if you count about two or three tablespoons of Jim Beam in a glass of water after supper each evening. Here’s what happened:

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For several years I had suffered a peculiar set of symptoms that the doctors could not identify. I often experienced a visual problem in which my vision was blotted out by a gray cloud with a bright light in its center and a bit of pressure in my temples. The cloud and light generally appeared at times when I was relaxing after a busy day. Neurologists and ophthalmologists seemed perplexed when I described my symptoms but offered no help. One even suggested that it might be signs of sight loss to be expected in old age. (I was only 60). He also noted in a report to another eye specialist that my problem might simply be in my mind.

I tried as many home remedies as I could think of to get relief, but the symptoms became worse and I began to lose peripheral vision in my right eye. I tried drinking coffee in the evening but it seemed to aggravate the condition. Neither aspirin nor tranquilizers helped — then I tried the forbidden. I tried alcohol.

The experiment was not deliberate but was born out of desperation. It came about when I was leading a conference of professional marriage counselors in a downtown New Orleans hotel. It had been a long and busy day and the last presenter had begun his speech when I sat back in my chair and relaxed — then I began to go blind with one of my spells. I suppose the idea of taking a drink was inspired by the Holy Spirit or my angel — or it might have been suggested by the fact that I was in the French Quarter where liquor flows freely — or even because the coffee break included wine and cheese and apples. (I had insisted on apples for those of us who were teetotalers.) At any rate, when my mind was made up I slipped out of my chair, moved carefully behind the speaker and off the stage down the side isle to the stair that led to the bar downstairs.

By this time I was almost sightless, but by holding onto the handrail I made my way to the bar. I didn’t know how to order a drink properly but I had heard the term “bourbon and water” and, assuming that the water would dilute the whiskey, I ordered bourbon and water. The drink came with a little stick which I removed and downed the drink as though it were a glass of tea. Needing to get back to the conference room I started up the stairs two steps at a time and behold, a miracle, my vision cleared up and I could see clearly! For some strange reason, however, I missed a step and almost fell. Luckily, I was able to grab the rail and get back to the meeting before the speaker had finished. In fact, I rather enjoyed closing the meeting with a rousing motivational speech.

Now that I have confessed the time I broke my vow to abstain from alcoholic drink, I am happy to report that I no longer have need of the evening toddy. I finally found a doctor who diagnosed my problem as narrow angle glaucoma which was corrected with lazar surgery. This came about, unfortunately, two years later after I had completely lost the sight in my right eye. When I told the doctor what I had been doing to control my spells he was surprised that I had somehow discovered what had been the standard treatment in such cases before better treatments were developed. I am happy to report that over the years since my eye surgery I have not had another spell, and I have not imbibed.

It is true that Paul advised Timothy in the New Testament to “take a little wine for your stomach’s sake” but that was before Alka Seltzer, Mylanta, Rolaids, Tums, and a raft other antacids. In proverbs, the New Living Translation chapter 20, verse 1, we are reminded that “Wine produces mockers; liquor leads to brawls. Whoever is led astray by drink cannot be wise.”