Saturday, 10 September 2011


While on holiday in Wales, I accidentally stepped on something. Maybe, it was a thorn from a plant, or a tiny fragment of a shell. I thought I pulled it out but clearly, not all of it came out. So, a couple of days ago, over a week after it had happened, the toe started to hurt. Quite badly, I have to say. 
What do I do? I asked Husband, who had a medical background. Nothing he said. He spent years in medical school to be taught that most of the things get better on their own. But I could not just do nothing, you see. The problem was the toe was so sore I could not step on it. And, because I could not step on it, I was walking like a demented crab, which in turn made my whole leg and hip sore. So I had to get the frigging thing out, whatever it was. 

Trying to dig it out did not work. ‘Told you, leave it!’ Husband said.

I went to the chemist. Help, I cried. Not only my wrist is sore from carrying the car seat with the baby, not only my ankle is twisted, not only my left breast is about to drop off...but now I can’t even step on my big toe!
The chemist sold me a few things. First, she sold me magnesium sulphate paste, which was meant to draw the nasty thing out. Secondly, she sold me some cushioning plasters to protect the affected area. And thirdly, another plaster to hold it all in place.

I got home and tried to fix myself a complicated bandage out of two types of plasters and the paste. It held on for about an hour and then fell off, leaving me still limping. Suddenly, my mother got very excited.

‘I completely forgot!’ she said, ‘I brought you some Naftalan! Put it on!’

Hold on a minute, Husband ears pricked up at the familiar word. That is just crude oil. It is smelly and disgusting and is not going to cure anything at all. It will just make the whole house stink. How could I believe in such silly witch medicine, he wanted to know.

But I was desperate. Who knows? Maybe it has some therapeutic quality after all. And if it does not work, what is the worst that could happen? I would have a stinky toe for a day.
I squeezed the paste on to the toe, bandaged it and went to bed. 

In the morning, after a shower, I looked at the toe.  A tiny black thorn was more visible now. I pulled on it, squeezed a little...and it came right out.

I texted husband at work to let him know the Naftalan magic worked. 

‘It is a coincidence!’ he said. 

‘Of course it is, sunshine’ I replied. 

Husband was annoyed. He proceeded to explain to me how there was no way! Naftalan paste could have helped me. As for me, I have no idea. It could be? that it was Naftalan that made the splinter come out. Or it might have been the magnesium sulphate that I’d put on earlier that day. It really depends on what sort of person you are, I guess. Whether you believe in magic or coincidence. Medicine of alternative medicine. Or a bit like me- slap a bit of both on and hope one of them would work. Honestly? I dont care which one did it.  I can walk again. But, just in case, I might hold on to that tube of Naftalan.


  1. Maybe the combination of both?
    My mom's family is from Peruvian Amazon region, which is particularly different from the res of the country. There they have a resin called sangre de grado (blood of the tree grado). I've known sangre de grado my whole life. It's a miraculous coagulant, among other proprieties. Whenever I feel a sore throat, I spill some drops on my throat et voila! The sore sensation is gone. And the same for blisters and injuries, especially for children.
    This naftalan made me think of my cherished sangre de grado.
    By the way, is good to know your toe is getting better.

  2. I love the ad, it's so cute, dancing doctors and patients, now that's a good idea :)
    Allopathic medicine is great when someone is gravely ill with something very straight forward, so doctors get excited about cutting patients open, or flooding them with radiation and poisoning them with chemo. But don't ask them about not having any energy, not feeling well if your blood test results are fine. At best they will send you home, at worst try to give you antidepressants because if it’s not directly evident in your body, it must be in your head :)
    That said I don’t advocate for homeopathic medicine either, most of it is just bad science and is suspect as such.