Our youngest small person gets chronic ear infections. So chronic, in fact that she was a lip-reader, and nearly deaf by two years old, because of the constant blockage in her ears. Evidently her pain tolerance is pretty high, because she rarely made a sound, other than crying over a wet diaper or a hungry belly. We had no idea there were issues with her ears until pus began oozing out one day, and she scolded me for covering my mouth when I spoke. Not a Supermom kind of day, to discover your kid is practically deaf, and you've let her head fill up with infection.
Our reactions back then were to rush her to the doctor at the first sign of trouble, pump her full of antibiotics and pain medication, drop mystery liquids into her ears, and wait for magic to happen. And magic did happen. For a while. The infections always returned within a month or two, and we'd repeat the process, each time sort of hoping someone would suggest that magical surgery that would rid her of this problem forever. And sort of not hoping for it at the same time, because who wants to think of their baby, helpless on an operating table, no matter how favorable the end result?
And then, my grandmother filled up with cancer.
It seems she's been at one doctor or another nearly every day since her diagnosis. Scans, and tests, and blood work, and now the treatments...and so many medications. And the medications and treatments themselves seem so very frightening. So many chemicals and foreign things being pumped into her and stuck inside of her. So many not-found-in-nature things being forced into her bloodstream, all with the intent to "cure" the very foreign thing that's taken over her body...
It seems so...
And I have begun to consider lately, very adamantly, the things happening in our own home.
Our daughter's ears have been one of those considerations, and it hasn't been a great upheaval. Four fairly painful infections have come and gone over the past few months, without the use of antibiotics, and with minimal use of conventional pain medications. Old-fashioned "witchy" medicine has done the trick to cure her, along with a little TLC, and both she and I have been satisfied with the outcome. In the end, it's become much harder to break down and take her to a medical doctor for conventional medicine, when "voodoo" can't cure her. At the moment, she's sitting with a belly full of antibiotics, and an ear full of pus, and it's bothering me. A lot.
And causing me to wonder, what's this like for my husband?
Because the refusal of medicines and the home remedies have not been the end of it. I have become aware of nearly everything around me. Around us. Inside of us.
I've given up shampoo, completely. There are strange concoctions all over the house, and showering is no longer as simple as grabbing a bottle from the closet and lathering up. There are are unlabeled, gritty bars of solid soap, there are blended containers of fruit in the fridge, there are canisters of dry powders, vinegar blends in the window...it's impossible to keep up with what's what, and he can't possibly keep up with what strange brew I have scheming at any given moment, in search of that "perfect" blend.
He's painfully shy, and I wonder if my insistence against plastic bags at the grocery store is more embarrassing to him than I realize. If I've forgotten my cloth bags, I just ask the bagger to toss my items (normally no more than four or five) back into the cart. I swear, it seems to make him uncomfortable. If he's at the store without me, I think they see him coming, and bag those five items in six goddamn bags, to make up for what I didn't take.
So much of this is brand new, and very unlike the person I was just a couple of years ago. I worry about how it affects him. How he handles the fact that his wife stopped wearing commercial deodorant. How he feels about the fact that his wife started making her own cloth menstrual pads. Is he weirded out by baking soda toothpaste? Have I turned into some alien-esque creature to which he no longer relates? Some tree-hugging, hyper-aware, chemical-paranoid conspiracy theorist, when all he wants is to sit down to a pizza and a Dr. Pepper, that he brought home in a plastic bag, and not have to catch shit about it from his wife who hasn't shaved her pits in three months?
He's had more patience than I think I might have, were I in his position. Part of me senses great ambivalence from him. Were there no one else on the planet to judge him, I think he might be absolutely with me. And were I not here to bitch at him for using gasoline to kill weeds in the backyard, I think there would be a hazy green cloud over our house right this very moment.