Monday 5 August 2013

Old wive's tales

Mothers are pretty smart people.  I don't know if they are all born with common sense or if they somehow download it directly into their brains through some kind of cosmic modem as soon as their first child is born.  Fathers, on the other hand, seem to have evolved without this ability.  Regardless, the knowledge that they have is invaluable and pervasive.  Old wives' tales exist in every country, language, and culture.  Some of them are completely ridiculous and make me laugh:

  • It's raining!  Put on a coat or else you'll catch pneumonia!
  • Don't swallow gum or else it will stay in your stomach for 7 years.
  • Don't make that silly face or it'll stay that way forever!
  • Feed a cold, starve a fever.
  • Don't go swimming for 30 minutes after eating.
But there are some others which are startlingly true:
  • Eat your vegetables.  They're good for you.
  • Chicken soup will help your cold.
  • Tea with honey can help your cough.
  • Clean your room, damn it!
Ok, I'll admit that last one isn't exactly an old wives' tale, but it's still something that every mother says to every child.  My mother said it to me approximately 48,302 times while I was growing up, and I say it constantly to my kids (my 2-year old tends not to listen to me, unfortunately, as he throws yet another wooden block across the room).  However, it happens to be very good advice.  

"Fine, but how does this relate to trauma, or even to medicine at all?  I'm going back to watching my Ancient Aliens marathon!" I hear you scream.

Relax.  There is always method to my madness.

Lucy (not her real name) emailed me with the following story:
My name is {redacted} and I really enjoy your blog. I saw your post with random pictures and thought I'd send a couple of my own.

On {redacted} I was in my first car accident ever.  I still don't remember what happened because I was blacked out when the medics arrived, but according to the police it was my fault.  The other car left before anyone got there, so I don't know if that person was hurt.  Hopefully they weren't.  I was so disappointed because I pride myself on being a good and cautious driver.  Anyway, they say the car I hit was going 65 mph and my trusty Chevrolet Trail Blazer and its seatbelt kept me very safe.  Both air bags went off, and the only injuries I had were some bruises, a sprained ankle, a minor concussion, and a hole in my head the size of my pinky finger.  That hole came from something flying around in my car.  I always kept so much junk in my car!  However, I learned my lesson and my new car doesn't have any extra crap rolling around in it!

I know these photos aren't as exciting as some of the others you've posted, but maybe some other people need to learn the lesson I learned about keeping your car clean without having to learn it the hard way! 

So there you go.  NOW you understand why your mother always told you to keep your room clean, and the same goes for your car.  Because if you don't, you'll get into an accident and some piece of debris will fly out and knock you out and cut a hole in your head!  At least, that's the logic my mother would have used.  But then again, this is the same woman who tried to get me to eat mushrooms and broccoli because they were good for me.  Blech.


  1. Back in the days when cars were comparatively simple and easy to steal, my father bought a "strongarm" device that locked around the steering wheel and the pedals to make stealing the car tricker. This was designed to be difficult for would-be car thieves to bend for removal and so was pretty heavy.

    It wasn't until I read on this unit the bright-yellow warning sticker that read "do place on back parcel shelf" that it occurred to me what would happen if you stopped suddenly (like crashed) with 5lb of drop-forged steel at head height in the back of your car.

    If you have stopped (crashed) and your wheel-lock is still doing 50 when it hits the back of your seat then it has 625 joules of keinetic energy - that's like catching a 14lb bowling ball dropped from 30 ft.

    If you drive around with your dumbbells on the parcel shelf of your car, go move them now!

    1. Ugi as the blog itself is not scary enough. Goodbye to enjoying a car ride. Haha

      Thank you for the advice.My country is among the top in term of car accidents. And deaths by them is the single most leading cause of youth death here. It is a shame! Oh and did I mentioned, currently you can't get a driving license unless you are 21 year old.

  2. My mom would always tell me not to swim after eating, so I would always make sure to jump in the pool as soon as I was done. It never really made sense to me.


  4. I can actually read that^ O.o

    1. Same. Which patient invented that I wonder...

  5. how did they know it was her fault when the other driver left the scene? Maybe this girl needs a lawyer?

  6. A couple of questions about the myths. Keep in mind that I'm not educated beyond high school. I thought that getting wet and cold lowered your immune response which made you more likely to get sick. And that's why people associate it with getting sick. So it's not a direct route but makes it more likely that any germs in your system will get the best of you. Not true? The other one is the feed a cold, starve a fever. I thought that in a survival situation where you have very little water that you were recommended to eat as little as possible because so much water is used in the digestive process that is needed for other basic functions. So with my young kids when they're really sick running a fever between 102-105 F I don't worry about the food intake so much. It's hard enough keeping them hydrated and a high fever sucks it all out as soon as I can get it in. I stick with very small amounts of watermelon, popsicles and purees. So this myth also makes sense to me. Is my thinking way off?

    1. Being cold does seem to lower your immune function somewhat, but the main reason people tend to be sicker during the winter is because they cluster indoors where viruses can be transmitted much more easily.

      As for starving a cold, it doesn't accomplish anything. People who are sick tend not to be as hungry, and it's perfectly fine to go without food for a period of time. It is not fine, however, to go without fluids, which is why doctors (and mothers) always say to drink plenty of fluids. Fevers make you sweat and lose even more fluids, so people can get dehydrated rather quickly.

      I hope that answers your questions.


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