Saturday, April 2, 2011


My brother reminded me of this famous remedy Mutti  used  for relieving us of a cold with fever. It’s name is  ‘Schweisswickel’ , something like a ‘Sweat bandage’. We had to strip our upper body and then the monster was applied —she wrapped this long  rough piece of terry cloth or an old bed sheet which she had wet with cold water around our body from the armpits to the navel. Here it comes - we hold our breath - oh, so cold and uncomfortable. And then we were put to bed, covered with lots of heavy blankets up to our chin and had to lay there very still and wait for the sweating to begin. Both, brother and I don’t remember how long this ordeal lasted, one hour maybe, but we do remember asking how much longer we had to endure this and never being told less then “another 10 minutes”. To us it seemed like an eternity but it worked. The next day cold and fever were gone.

Grandmother Tic-Tac Oma also had this other mysterious gizmo. Don’t ask what it was. It was housed in a leather case lined with velvet and consisted of a  glass tube about 20 cm long to which she attached a glass bulb at one end, all very thin and fragile,  and a handle at the other end. I don’t remember if it needed electricity or batteries but whatever she did to it produced blue flames shooting up that tube into the bulb. Now the bulb had become a heat emitting tool - a fire spewing dragon - which she gently caressed my back with. The entire apparatus intimidated me but I trusted our wise grandmother and submitted to the cold/fever killing treatment.

Whenever I was sick with a high fever I hallucinated - bad and scary dreams. And each time I opened my eyes I was so relieved to see my grandmother sitting in the room. Our eyes would meet and I fell securely
back to sleep.

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