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Ben's daycare provider is like another grandmother to him and like another mother to me. I've written about it before. One of the most rewarding parts of having her in our lives is that she has helped open my eyes to Mexican culture.

Last Thursday, Ben woke up with a fever. It had been a rough few weeks. I gave him some Motrin and got him set up with a tippy of milk before sitting down to call in to my work to let them know that I would not be in and then to call his daycare to let "R" know that he wouldn't be coming in.

R's english is very good with the exception of words and phrases that are specific to the Mexican culture. For example.. I asked her what the translation of "El Jarabe Tapatio" was and she explained the story behind it but didn't know that the song/dance is known in English as "The Mexican Hat Dance".

After I told her that Ben was sick with a fever (again.. 3rd time in 3 weeks).. she was very worried about him. She then sighed and said "Can you do something for me? You'll think I'm crazy". That's never a good way to start a conversation. I figured that she was going to ask us to drop off the check for daycare services that day instead of waiting until he was better and could be back at school. I was surprised when she said "get an egg".

I would pay serious money to get a recording of this telephone conversation. R was having trouble describing what she wanted me to try and what she was describing was so off the wall that I kept asking her to repeat and spell just about everything.. twice.

She asked me to get an egg, and to roll it (uncracked) over Ben's arms and legs and to pay special attention to his head. She said to then run the egg under water. That was it.

I was perplexed.. but I was also curious and I'll admit it.. a bit desperate. We had already spent 2 weeks on "seizure watch" and for a new fever to start up was very worrisome. I figured.. what the heck.. what is the worst that could happen? I figured the worst that could happen was that I had mistakenly heard "egg" when she actually said "warm washcloth". Boy would I be embarassed!

So while Ben was watching Thomas the Train, I went and got an egg.. and rolled it over his head and his arms and legs. He laughed. I laughed at myself as I walked to the kitchen to then run the egg under water.

We went back to watching TV. The Motrin kicked in and his temperature dropped. A few hours later he went down for a nap. When he woke up.. his fever hadn't returned.. and it never did. He was feeling fine and acting fine. If anything, his mood had taken an upswing and he wasn't anywhere near as cranky as he had been.


the egg?

I was insanely curious, but I also knew that the only way I could get R to fill me in on why she had recommended "the egg thing" was if I stopped by the house. She was having trouble explaining the steps I needed to take.. getting an explanation of mexican folk healing was surely not going to be an easy conversation for the telephone. I waited until today.

This morning, both Shiela and I dropped Ben off at daycare. We overslept.. long story. As he was taking inventory of all of the toys and easing his way toward the kitchen for.. ironically.. some scrambled egg.. I said to R.. "ok.. you have to explain the egg thing"

She explained it as best she could with the exception that some things she didn't have a translation for. For example.. what the egg heals is mal de ojo. She didn't know how to say that in English. We chatted about it for a while and both Shiela and I came to the conclusion that this little bit of Mexican folk medicine was really no different than Chinese Traditional Medicine and Qi (pronounced "chee"). I was a total skeptic of CTM until I went through acupuncture and herbal treatments for infertility. I don't believe that CTM "cured" me of infertility.. but it definitely did something.. I felt better than I had in decades!

I can't say that the egg thing was a definitive success.. the Motrin could have made his temp drop and maybe he just had a very brief viral thing. Who knows. One thing we DO know is that we can't say that the egg thing did nothing. We just don't know if it specifically did something. clear as mud?

The part that I find compelling is that I brought him to his pediatrician and good ol' Western Medicine had no answer for his ailment aside from "well.. it's probably a virus".

mal de ojo (mäl dā ō·hō),
n,an ethnomedical condition common to Latin America (with roots in the Mediterranean), is a childhood illness characterized by fever, headache, and irritability. An envious gaze, typically from a nonrelative and often accompanied with compliments, is considered to be the cause of this malady, and the immediate cure is for a family member or care giver to touch the child being complimented. If this is not possible, a healer (usually a relative or a curandera) may roll a egg over the sufferer's body.

I'll leave you with this.. Rhode Island is neither a "road" nor an "island". Discuss.


  1. Snickollet said...
    I love Ruth!
    Anonymous said...
    I love Ruth too!! I am going to tell Amy to start getting the eggs out and ready. Western Medicine has yet to figure out what is wrong with her!!! LOVE

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