As children my brother and I had many diseases together. When I was 4 we both got dysentery, that time I almost died, blood was coming out of me. Somehow the doctors at the children’s hospital in Moscow saved me. I understand that children’s and contagious diseases were not in mind of my daughter when she asked me to write this blog. However, everybody, but my mother, had dysentery at one time or another. The diet during and after infectious stomach disorders and diseases is very important. This was time when I started my learning about the importance of food for health. On the other hand, maybe we all had this genetic predisposition to catch dysentery except for my mother she never got it.
In elementary school I developed tonsillitis and in fourth grade was sick every other week. I missed half of the school year, maybe even more. If it was in America I would be left back, but in the Soviet Union you always were moved forward if you could pass the tests. Poor attendance, if it was medically excused, was not a reason to keep a child in the same grade twice. And I passed all tests. By spring of that school year my tonsils were surgically removed and I never was sick for more than once or twice during winter season again.
My brother, however, was born with diathesis, covered with bloody crust. He was not allowed to eat eggs, oranges, tomatoes, and many more tasty things. With age his diathesis turned into asthma and he suffered from asthma attacks regularly. We all knew what to do: windows open, 4 pillows under his shoulders, and no dust. When doctors developed test on allergens, my brother showed reaction to all of them. The worst reaction he showed on aspirin. Twice he had to be taken to the hospital by paramedics with clogged air ways. Thank god he survived and grew out of his asthma. Now he suffers from time to time with an allergy attack as a reaction to cats, dogs, birch blossom and other unpredictable things. He learned to deal with that, especially after medicines like Benadryl and Sudafed were discovered.
My mother never allowed him to feel like an invalid. She was experimenting with different methods of dealing with all his conditions. My favorite memory is about this Indian doctor who taught us how to breathe. Theoretically, I didn’t need those exercises, but if my brother had to do that, I had to do that too, that was the rule, so both of us learned how to breathe with our stomach, not shoulders. This was training for my brother; he had to learn that during asthma attack instead of panicking he should watch his breathing and it worked pretty well. Now I know that this way of breathing is taught to all people who learn Ayurvedic medicine and philosophy.
The first disease I remember myself without my mom telling me about was the mumps. There was no vaccine for it in the fifties. Both: my brother and I had mumps together, he suffered awfully, had very high fever, couldn’t move for a couple of days. I remember how my mother was changing our compresses a couple times a day and in a few days we both started our recovery. We loved to be getting better because mom cooked our favorite dishes, we didn’t go to school and could run and play all day long.
Chicken pox left me with a couple of scars on my face. Sometime later I had shingles, so the virus stayed with me for a while. Here it is interesting to mention that both of my daughters had chicken pox before the vaccine was introduced and the same summer they both had shingles. The doctor mentioned to me how unusual one shingles at this age was and was stand that both of them developed it almost at the same time.
In the fifties we did have vaccinations for diphtheria, polio, tuberculosis, and plague. That was standard at that time, all 4 diseases took millions of lives in previous generations. Plague alone is blamed for loss of half of population of Europe in 14th century.
Here I want to state my opinion about Vaccinations. My grandmother, my mother’s mother, gave birth to 8 children. Only 4 of them survived the childhood. The other 4 died from children’s diseases. I can’t hear the conversations that hygiene could save those children. I know how good and clean my grandmother was. She alone saved her husband, my grandfather, from wounds he got while being executed during the civil war in Russia after the revolution of 1917. He was shut in multiple areas. His jaws, legs, and chest were completely messed up. My grandmother found him among dead bodies and took home, luckily the place of the execution was nearby their village. She took care of his wounds; she fed him liquid diet with a straw, because he couldn’t move his jaws. He survived, lived longer than she did. Now, tell me she didn’t have clean house to bring up her kids, of course she did. Hygiene does not protect from children’s disease. If people knew the history of their families the way I do, they would never argue about vaccinations. Vaccinations save kids’ lives. How many of you know mothers who lost their children our days? A hundred years ago it was every family. I worked with new mothers for 20 years none of the kids died from infectious children’s diseases.
One last thing, my husband didn’t have rubella as a child, he got it at the age of 29, we were married already. An entire week of a fever over 103 made him think he was dying. Luckily this was the day when the rush spread all over his body and the fever subsided. I still have not had Scarlett fever and I am thinking from time to time of the day when it will catch up with me.