Before you even start thinking that this article is a joke, I want to warn you that it is serious, especially because it deals with children and they can be very curious. Their curiosity leads them to swallow strange things. So all things said, never swallow paper.
Some babies put pieces of a balloon in their mouths and swallow them. Others bite on pieces of plastic, swallow large wads of chewing gum, or even plastic wrapper that comes around cheese. All this because they are hungry.
So what if your baby swallows these things? He will develop an ailment or disorder called “Empacho”. Empacho means that your baby’s belly will enlarge. He will have a lot of trapped air that will cause pain and discomfort.
The child will not be able to empty his bowels causing him to cry incessantly. The doctor may never know what the problem is, especially 25 years ago when there was no ultra sound equipment.
So if you suspect that your baby has the “empacho”, you need to take him or her to a sobandera, a lady that can massage or anoint the baby. She anoints the baby’s tummy or belly and then the back with some oil. Then she proceeds to crack the air out of his system by pulling hard on your skin until she hears a small snap.
No wonder babies got to hate the sobanderas. They only saw them on the street and started to cry. The sobandera would also give the child some oil (could be olive oil) to drink and this would help the baby to empty his bowels. One good visit to the sobandera and the empacho would be gone.
Twenty five years ago it would be strange for a 12 year old to have empacho, because he should know better of what to swallow and what not to. But at times just overeating or eating something that did not agree with your digestive system could cause a severe empacho. One kid got it from swallowing marbles. Another kid got it from swallowing pieces of chalk at school. I hear news today of persons swallowing diamonds or small parcels of cocaine or marijuana to fool the customs and police. Don’t you ever do that or you can get a “Marijuanaempcho” sickness or a “diamondempacho”.
By the way, are there any sobanderas still around? Ask around and someone please try to learn the art of healing empacho before the sobanderas are all gone.
– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist