Drink This, Then The Pneumonia Won’t Seem So Bad

, , , , | Healthy | July 3, 2018

(I am nine years old. I have a pretty weak constitution and frequently fall ill. Every winter, like clockwork, I’ll get pneumonia, among other illnesses. I learn to recognize and become familiar with the sensation of my lungs feeling full of lead, and sharp, stabbing pain overtaking my ribcage on every inhale. I can’t breathe in enough oxygen to get out of bed. My parents choose their own methods of medical treatment for me. I’ve been bed-bound for days with pneumonia; I’ve got a high fever and am struggling to breathe. My parents have been bringing me occasional water and soup, and some seemingly random, unnamed medicines. Mom comes in, sits on the bed, and hands me a cup of medicine.)

Mom: “You need to drink this.”

(I take a sip. It’s horrifically bitter. I gag, cough, and hand it back.)

Me: “I… can’t… It’s… bitter… and gross!”

Mom: “You have to drink it, anyway; it’s medicine! You need to drink your medicine!”

Me: *panting* “I… can’t! There’s… no… way… I can… drink… that! It’s… undrinkable! It… tastes… like… poison!”

Mom: “Well, if you want to whine about it, fine.” *offhandedly* “Just know that since you’re severely ill, this is the only medicine that will save your life! If you won’t drink it, you’re going to die!

Me: “…” *shock*

Mom: *matter-of-factly* “Yes, you are! You are so horrifically sick that you’ll die if you don’t drink all of this! Probably very quickly! Tonight, in fact! But I guess you don’t want it, so I’m just going to take this away now! I’m leaving with the medicine now, since you’re choosing to die!”

(She pauses.)

Mom: “Now. Are you suuuuuure you don’t want it?!” *wiggles the cup in front of me*

Me: *horrified fear*

(Of course, I reluctantly took the medicine back and choked it down miserably, while gagging and struggling not to throw up or expel my lungs. They continued “treating” me this way for years for every serious illness. Looking back, I think it’s likely it was some “medicinal” Russian tea, or maybe some over-the-counter unflavored children’s fever reducer like acetaminophen or Aspirin, and I really wouldn’t be surprised if they chose an unflavored version to save money. Some of the other “folk remedies” my parents inflicted on me to “treat” pneumonia were much more disturbing and gross. For some reason, they seemed to just treat these illnesses like regular colds. They never once took me to a doctor or hospital, no matter how bad it got or how high my fever, despite living in a country with free social healthcare, and otherwise regularly taking me to a doctor for check-ups and vaccines.)

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