My grandparents had a beautiful house. In the front yard, there was a cherry tree, a couple of orange trees, and a tree which is called Azgil in Persian – found the word common medlar for it; but they are not the same.
I spent a considerable amount of my childhood there.
For almost any medical condition, she had a home remedy.
I remember one of them specifically.
We were having lunch – my grandparents and me. She was an excellent chef and had made fish and rice. Suddenly, I ingested a fishbone.
It had happened before. Due to being next to the Caspian Sea, we had fish for our meals a couple of times a week and fishbone ingestion was pretty common.
But this time, the fishbone was stuck.
I was scared and the scratching made by bone had added pain to the fear too.
She, however, was calm. She grabbed the skimmer and took a piece of Tahdig (a kind of scorched rice) with it and gave it to me.
“Just eat this. it will move the fishbone down to the stomach”, she said with a smile.
She was right; although I never used this method for kids with foreign body ingestion in the emergency department.
Eating Tahdig was her home remedy for foreign body ingestion.
This memory, I think, is for 20 years ago. Reading about something called “absent grandmother syndrome” took me to it.
My grandmother was an important consultant in our lay referral system.
As Pat Croskerry wrote in the 4th chapter of the Diagnosis:
In all societies, ancient and modern, a lay referral system has been developed and is usually available to diagnose common disorders. It is based on a network of family, friends, and acquaintances.
The hands-on primary care physician is the hinge between the lay and the professional referral system.Diagnosis – Interpreting the Shadows
The term is coined by Eliot Freidson (+).
When young, first-time mothers present to emergency departments with children showing self-evident, benign conditions, it is a common lament among staff that the lay referral system has failed somewhere – nurses refer to it as the “absent grandmother syndrome.”
I remember the days of being a 4th year medical student.
In the pediatric ward, there was a professor – a neurologist – who always was looking for the slightest opportunity to remind us:
I’m not teaching you to become a doctor who can only diagnose and treat common cold or chickenpox.
Your grandmothers can do that. They can do that better than you.
You must learn to diagnose something they can’t diagnose.