Monday, February 13, 2012

A Nasty Burn

After a recent blog about my medical inventions I’m on to a medical matter once again.
Incidentally, just after my heart pacemaker had been fitted, I went into my local Tesco supermarket and set off the thief alarm when entering and leaving. Perhaps it was the power of my new pacemaker’s battery that triggered it. Having warned the management of what might happen in future, I then went in and out without alarm - presumably as the battery’s power had declined.
What I now write about is the efficacy of a childhood remedy.
Whenever we happened to burn ourselves as country-bred children in the late 1920s and early ‘30s, butter was applied to the burned surface of our skin.
In a rush a few evenings ago, I wanted to change the position of a pot that was cooking in the oven, leaving a very hot empty pan on the top of the stove in the process.
With thumb and forefinger of my left hand I inadvertently touched the scorching metal of this pan, burning the skin badly as I did so. Margreet, who witnessed it, swore that my skin had burnt itself onto the pan.
So I dashed to the refrigerator and rubbed the exposed end of a slab of butter on the wound, coating it thoroughly.
I kept the agonising burn open to the air and covered with the melting butter for the next two hours, until the excruciating pain had subsided.
Margreet, who was rather dubious of the success of this English country remedy, thought that a large blister was forming on my thumb and a lesser one on the adjoining finger. The hurting areas were certainly very red.
I kept the wound in the open air and covered in butter until bedtime, occasionally re-applying the soothing unguent throughout the night.
The next day revealed a thumb and forefinger as if no burn had ever taken place. The area was a little sore, and nerve endings on the thumb’s skin somewhat shaken.
From then on I was using the hand as if no trauma at all had occurred.
It had been a miraculous recovery, and one that had confirmed the efficacy of a country remedy. It also proved that in an era of rather primitive medicine, mother really did know best.