"Did you soak it in Epsom salts?"
When I call my mother and complain of any pain, soreness, or ache, she asks me this question. This woman believes in the power of Epsom salts and claims that they can cure many an ill. She has taken them internally for gastrointestinal problems and has filled the bathtub with them so she could have a good "soak."
The source of their cure? They "draw."
She remembers her grandmother administering a dose of "salts" for constipation and other ills. Living on the rice paddies of Arkansas, my family ingested or soaked in salts as a first course of action, often preempting a visit to the doctor.
My mother has suggested the Epsom-salts cure for me more times than I can count. She doesn't know that I don't purchase them or soak in them regularly.
On Monday morning, my dogs, as usual, woke me at 5 a.m. whining to be fed. Lucy, my 8-year-old chocolate Lab, loves to eat. With Lucy in a feeding frenzy and me in a sleep stupor, we collided. Her leg bent back my little toe and I heard it snap. I doubled over in pain as I filled her bowl with chicken and rice kibble.
Then I sat down and looked at the damage. The toe was twisted, blue, and swollen. I was sure it was broken, but limped back to bed and hoped for the best. After my shower, I buddy taped the damaged digit to the next toe and actually made it through a full workday and karate class.
After class, however, the toe was red, purple, and huge. I put ice on it and kept it elevated. On Tuesday, I realized that I would have to go to the doctor, so I pulled out a foot soak that I had recently purchased to try to make my feet more presentable. As I filled a tub with water, I read the label. The soak's main ingredients are salts.
The warm water felt good and I was reading something pleasant, so I think I soaked my feet for over an hour.
When I woke up Wednesday morning, the swelling, bruising, and pain had subsided. I concluded that the toe was not broken, but only sprained. The "salt cure" had drawn out the inflammation and the bruising. If the swelling returns, I will go to the doctor, but tonight I'm hoping for the best and believing that great grandma Wheeler knew a thing or two. I'm happy my mother passed this wisdom on to me, although it has taken me many years to apply it.