Thursday, September 06, 2007

Cindy - It’s not easy being mean – or confessions of a wife turned nurse.

My dear sweet hubby had total knee replacement surgery last week. In the dictionary, next to the word pain, you will see: knee replacement surgery. Well, maybe not, but maybe it should be. In any event, I’ve been playing nurse and physical therapist since they released him from the hospital WAY TOO SOON.

I’ve always had a healthy respect for anyone in the medical profession and I’ve done my share of nursing the little ones over the years and my parents when those times inevitably arrive. But to make a man (a tough man) perform excruciating physical exercises to help regain mobility in a knee that is swollen to roughly the size of a basketball requires a heart that is much more hardened than mine.

What does this lead up to you ask? It leads up to the fact that I’ve barely had time to brush my hair let alone write a blog post (or work on a book where the deadline is looming) SOOO, I’ve filched something from someone somewhere that I found interesting and thought provoking to both the historian and weird factoid persona in me and decided to share.

Here goes:

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water.

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying . It's raining cats and dogs.

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, Dirt poor. The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway. Hence the saying a thresh hold.

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme, Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, bring home the bacon. They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

England was old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a .. dead ringer.

So. What do you think? I LOVE reading about how some of the expressions we blindly use without a thought to their origin came about. Anyone out there have any little known factoids to add to the broth or the stew or the bathwater???


Helen Brenna said...

So sorry to hear about your dh, Michele. My mom had shoulder surgery and both hip and knee replacement. She said the knee was the most painful. Hugs.

Love the info on sayings. So interesting. Ever heard of the origin of "Pick your brain"?

I won't go into the details, too gruesome, but I've read it has to do with ancient Egyptians and the mummification process. Ick.

Breakfast anyone?

Betina Krahn said...

Ohhh, Cindy I sympathize with you in the grouchy hubby in pain problem. And I've also heard that knee replacement is excrutiating. I'll light a candle, sweetie!

Meanwhile, what a hoot to learn the origins of some phrases we still commonly use. I love this kind of stuff!

Also, I've never been much of a fan of the "good old days" mentality. I know too much real and ordinary history to think it was better then than now. I wouldn't want to go back 30 years, much less 500! The best part of learning how bad they had it is-- knowing that we're the decendents of the SURVIVORS. Our ancestors are the ones who were hardy enough to live through such conditions and survive to reproduce. Gives me a little hope, actually. As a species we're a lot more resilient than we realize!

Playground Monitor said...

Once in a blue moon

"The most likely origin is from The Maine Farmers’ Almanac. When there were two full moons in a calendar month the first was printed in red, the second in blue. A “blue moon” happens about once every 1.5 years."

Hope your DH recovers quickly. And why do YOU have to be the one to make him do the PT? That's just not fair. Isn't that what physical therapists are for? I have to have foot surgery after the first of the year (well, I need it now but decided to suffer and wait til after summer and the holidays -- thank goodness for Celebrex!) and I'll have my own little date with PT.


Cindy Gerard said...

Hey Helen
Sorry but it's Cindy posting today. My bad for not mentioning it. Michele and I switched days.
Pick your brain, huh? I think I'm glad you didn't go into details.

Anyone ever wonder about the expression 'nit picking?'
I know the answer but I'll see what thee rest of you come up with. :o)

Cindy Gerard said...

Thanks Betina for the words of sympathy. He's really being a very good patient. And it has been excruciating for him.
And Marilyn, he does have to go to PT 3 times a week but in between I need to make certain he does his exercises. It's hard to watch :o(
Love the Blue Moon info.

Debra Dixon said...

Cindy-- I love this!!

Also, swimming has been a huge help to my step-father in improving the range of his knee after therapy was finished.

Playground Monitor said...

"Nit picking" refers to head lice, doesn't it? Ewwwww

I still remember the day my oldest came home from school and announced the nurse had checked their heads for bugs. Luckily we never had lice.


Cindy Gerard said...

Nit picking: Monkeys pick lice out of each other's fur. Back in jolly old England, the bar wenches and prostitutes used to pick lice and other vermin out of the hair and beard's of their patrons. Eww. LIfe without soap and shampoo. Was it worth living???

Susan Kay Law said...

I've never figured out why guys are such horrible patients. It's the strangest thing . . . they can get clobbered in a game and barely wince. But at home, they stub their toes, and I came running to screams that sound like they've just been eviscerated!


Cindy Gerard said...

Suzie - I hear you. He's actually been pretty tough about it. I, on the other hand, am a wimp. I accidentally bumped his knee yesterday and I cried, not him :o(

Keri Ford said...

Cindy, I'm so sorry to hear your news. Grit your teeth and plow through with that therapy. Think of how worse he'd be without it. I wish your husband the best recovery for his sake (and yours!).

Cindy Gerard said...

Thanks Keri. He's hanging in there. Today has been the best day yet and he just had the surgery 8 days ago so we're getting there.

Kathleen Eagle said...

I feel your pain, Cindi. Clyde's having knee problems--been going on for over a month now with various diagnoses and limping around with a cane. An MRI last week--finally!--shows a torn ligament. He's scheduled for surgery a week from today. My days as waitress, nurse, massage therapist and occasional crutch could be winding down soon.

I am so not good with sick people. Let's take our medicine, try this, try that, fix you up and soldier on is my rather verbose motto. I wanted to be a nurse when I was about 5--had the little kit, loved the blue cape. By age 6 it occurred to me that I simply was not that kind. And by that I mean, I was lacking in kindness. Strong stomach and patience probably lacking as well.

But I love the nursing fantasy. It's so...romantic.

Cindy Gerard said...

Oh, I'm sorry Clyde is having trouble. Hopefully they can fix it with scope surgery. I'd hate for him to go through what Tom is dealing with. He has an 8 inch incision stapled shut from his thigh to his shin right down the knee cap. It's what I call double ugly ...

YvonneLindsay said...

Cindy, I hope your dh's recovery remains smooth and trouble free. An elderly neighbour has had two knee replacements (both done while he was awake with epidural) and he highly recommends them. The recovery takes time but with determination they do get there.

And, I loved your post! Thanks for the smiles and the information. Some of it I'd heard before but it really deserves reinforcing. We take so much for granted these days, don't we?

With regard to nit picking... When I was in Manila about ten years ago I saw how it became a father/daughter bonding exercise. Where we where there were all these gorgeously picturesque horse and cart taxi-type services available, and I was totally charmed. Until I saw the driver combing out his little girl's hair and extracting the livestock. Now, in itself that he was doing that rather than letting her suffer the infestation was quite cute, but overall--EEEEUWWWW! Actually, I wonder how many fares he got that day...

Helen Brenna said...

Cindy - so sorry. Thought this was Michele.

Now, I can send my cyber hugs SOUTH instead of NORTH! LOL.

Hope you're all doing better this week.