Jilly D.

Off-the-grid low-cost health care

In Health, Off-The-Grid Memoir on April 25, 2014 at 2:00 pm

966592-R1-01-2AWhat’s in our medicine cabinet? We have one shelf above the toilet that is a board made from rough cut lumber; two feet long and six inches wide. On that shelf are all the medical supplies we need for our basic survival. There is 8 ounce bottle of rubbing alcohol, a 16 ounce bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide and small bottles of Mineral Oil and Witch Hazel. One bag of Epsom salts, a tin of bag balm, an assortment of bandages, gauze and tape, a tube of antibiotic crème, a tube of hydrocortisone crème,  and a jar of petroleum jelly. One bottle of Bayer aspirin and one tube of preparation H. There are no pill bottles, no vitamins, no potions or lotions. Two combs, fingernail clippers and a tweezers. What else do you really need?

On a shelf above the head of the bed, I keep a rice pack and a corn bag. Pains are numbed by a frozen rice pack and ear aches eliminated from a hot corn bag. There are only two other products we use in home health care treatments: Traumeel and BioTone body lotion. Both contain arnica which aids in healing. Next to the sink are my toothbrush and a box of baking soda. Why people buy a sugary paste to spread around their teeth to prevent cavities befuddles me. Baking soda not only keeps my teeth clean, but my tongue too; and aids digestion because it is a natural antacid.

Kissing a man without a beard and moustache is like taking a bath with your shoes and socks on. Thankfully Sam wears a beard and moustache. He trims them in spring and fall and I just hate it for the first few days. Sure saves on the mess daily shaving makes.

Upstairs is a claw foot porcelain tub. I take a bath once a week, whether I need it or not. In summer, I am in and out of the pond constantly. In winter, the long hot soaking bath soothes the soul.  Shampoo, crème rinse, Epsom salts, Ivory soap in bath bars and peppermint foot lotion sit on a shelf just above the faucet of the tub. Washing my hair is the first part of my sudsing routine. Taking a pumice stone to the bottoms of my feet is the finish.

Taking a shower once a day is common in the U.S. but throughout most of the world, water is now more valuable than oil. Our obsession with germs is expensive all the way around. The chemical products sold to “kill germs” are also toxic to people. The lack of exposure results in weaker immune systems. There is nothing wrong with getting a little dirty. We strip our skin and our hair of their natural oils with frequent washing.

On Warren Pond

On Warren Pond

Caring for one’s health is all about sleep, diet and exercise. Such simple and common sense prescriptions are not profitable. Fitness clubs are a huge industry yet walking costs nothing. Swimming in the pond is free.

My ab-buster is a hoe. Every spring I work off that little roll of winter dough around my middle by vigorously hoeing thousands of row feet of peas and beans and other crops. I love to wake up before dawn and, before coffee, grab my hoe and head to the field. Hoeing is not just good exercise. If you take a hoe to those weeds competing with new seedlings there is no need for herbicides. In the early day’s dew, you clip those weeds roots and gracefully turn them over to die quickly in the sun while the seedlings are caressed by the moist dirt.

Baling hay is another body toning experience. I ride behind the baler and as each square bale comes off the end, I grab it and fling it toward the back of the wagon. Then I stack them until the next bale gets kicked onto the wagon. When the alfalfa is rich and thick, the bales come out so fast I feel like Lucille Ball in a chocolate factory. But when I finish a field with Sam and I am riding atop the hay wagon with bales stacked five high, my body experiences an exhilaration known only to marathoners. The sweat drips off, your muscles quiver, lungs feel wide open and you itch everywhere. It is almost as good as sex.

100_1032Chopping and stacking fire wood builds upper body strength like stacking bales above your head in the hay mow. Hauling buckets of grain is better than lifting weights in a gym. Squatting to pick peas and hiking along hedgerows to pick berries provide lots of stretches Pilates machines haven’t yet mastered. You don’t need a gym to do calisthenic exercises; the floor works. Dancing to the 12 volt car radio inside on a rain April Saturday night boosts the energy level up.

Sleep, diet and exercise are key to preventative health care. But accidents happen. One day I set my hoe down and ran to answer the ringing telephone inside the cabin. When I came back out, I stepped on the end of the hoe and up came the handle. Popped me hard right in the middle of my forehead. Big shiner the size of an egg. Most accidents can be prevented by common sense. Farming, nonetheless, is one of the most hazardous occupations because of the variety of things that can go wrong.

Everyone gets insect bites or cuts and scrapes. Sam has had a broken left ankle, several broken ribs, strained neck and disintegrating vertebrae and too many dangerous cuts and slashes. This explains why we keep a large bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide on hand. There is nothing better to clean and disinfect an open wound. Sam believes strongly in wet dressings should any infection set in. There is not much a doctor can do for a broken rib; except charge you for an expensive x-ray to confirm what you already know. The body is exquisitely designed to heal itself if given a chance.

Most of the old time and natural remedies work. Chicken soup does relieve common cold symptoms. Garlic builds your immune system. Cranberry juice and rosehips keep your colon, kidneys, liver and digestive system working properly. Drinking more water will alleviate a headache. Sleep is the restorative process for the body.

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