Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Oh God, the chicken is sick!

I only eat chicken soup when I'm sick. Normally, I cannot stand the stuff.

But my mother always made me eat it when I was sick. When I grew up and moved out on my own, she'd stay say, "If you're feeling sick, eat some chicken soup." Mom was a nurse and a lab technician and a medical office assistant throughout most of her career. She never really trusted doctors.

So, I grew up eating chicken soup whenever I got a cold or the flu -- or, at least, I grew up hearing I should eat chicken soup whenever I got a cold or the flu. There were times when I was too sick to go down to the store to buy a can of 99-cent chicken soup, so I suffered like a man and acted about as pathetic as I could for a week. It's a guy thing.

Still, Mom always knew better than me (and the doctors) when it came to treating illnesses. When I was 18 she decided the family would go down the road to visitor the grand-parents (we lived near Atlanta, they lived near Tampa, but it was only an 8-hour drive). I remember that day well. I had eaten a turkey sandwich for lunch. By 6 PMish, I was sick as a dog near Macon, GA. We pulled into a local hospital and they let me suffer in the waiting room for a few hours (maybe only 30 minutes), and then I finaly got to see a doctor.

He decided he wanted to do a cat scan or something. Mom freaked out. "He just needs something for the nausea!" she screamed. The doctor said he wanted to be sure it wasn't anything unique. What a drama we had. She finally walked out on me as I heaved in the waiting room. The thing is, my stomach finally settled down and my mother persuaded me to go back to Atlanta with her. So in the car we went and back up the road we went and we visited a hospital she felt more comfortable with. The doctor there asked me what I'd had for lunch. "Turkey sandwich," I mumbled. "I think it was the turkey," he said.

Okay, some doctors are right after all. The scary thing is that the doctor in Macon was featured on 60 Minutes a few years later. I remember watching them rip him to shreds over his drastic attempts to revive a dead patient (whe came back to life but so brain-damaged he would never live a normal life). "There but for the grace of Mom, could have been me," I thought. Well, okay, I wasn't dead, but whatever that procedure was he wanted to run on me scared the besomething out of Mom. And she's watched more than one patient die, I'm sorry to say.

So, before I trot my sweet little behind down to the doctor, I try to run through all the remedies Mom used to suggest before she'd pay for a doctor's office visit. Chicken soup is one of them, and it does make me feel better. Heck, even science now acknowledges that chicken soup is good for a cold. Imagine that, Mom was right and the doctors didn't know what they were talking about after all. Hm.

Well, I also eat chicken pot pies when I'm sick. They don't offer the same benefits as chicken soup but when I'm sick I don't much care as long as it's not turkey and I can keep it down. Chicken pot pies taste like chicken anyway, so what difference does it make?

But now we're in the age of Asian Bird Flu, and it seems like every country that reports a case of the illness starts slaughtering chickens by the million. Vietnam and China took down their poultry populations in order to fight the disease. My Vietnamese girl refused to eat chicken when she visited Vietnam last year. Chicken is one of her favorite dishes (she ain't talkin' about American fried chicken).

Asian Bird Flu has spread from China to eastern Europe. It's only a matter of time before it hits the shores of North America. Fortunately, we have a beef industry thta protects our cattle from wholesale slaughter. When Mad Cow Disease was diagnosed in the U.S., we only killed a few cattle. That didn't stop Japan from blocking all imports of American beef for a while, but we Americans continued to eat our hamburgers and steak like there was nothing to worry about.

I actually ate a hamburger when I visited England in 1990. Didn't know about Mad Cow Disease at the time. But the 90s were a stressful decade for me whenever I thought about beef products.

So, here we are in the Oughts or whatever we choose to call this crazy decade and we're running around like a bunch of chickens with our heads cut off over Mad Cow Disease and Asian Bird Flu. Never mind the fact that other diseases are killing millions of people every year, we've got to pick on the only known natural treatment for the common cold that is approved by mothers.

And what are all those cows on the billboards going to do when the U.S. starts banning the sale and consumption of chickins? Will they start saying, "Eat more turkey?"

The thought makes me sick just thinking about it.

Better to stock up on chicken soup now, before it's recalled.


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