My last column dealt with the much dreaded practice of de-worming kids with Castor oil or “Purga” as it was called back then. Now if you think that was torment enough, I was reminded by a friend who just read that article about another ordeal that plagued us children, and that was the “lombricera”.
You see there were the small tiny one-inch worms that infested people due to eating of meat or fish contaminated with the parasite. The presence of these small worms was usually signaled by itching of the anus and some parents believed by the grinding of teeth. So the “purge” (a purge) was applied for that. But there were these ten inch worms that were known as lombrices or roundworms. These monstrous worms reproduced quickly inside the intestine by the millions and if not treated quickly they could travel to different parts in the body like the lungs. The presence of these lombrices or huge worms was signaled by a child eating plenty and not gaining weight. He was also known to be feisty, moody, and the inability to sleep well. So mom usually got another purge called “lombricera” and mixed it with the castor oil for a full treatment of the worm invasion. Talk about an awful, horrible, and appalling medicine!
Once the child was given “lombricera” and purge to drink, he was observed for the expulsion of these monsters. He would have to use a “bacenilla” or pot to defecate so that mom could observe the dead worms being expelled. And usually if no worm was passed out, mom would not interpret this as there being no worms, but rather as the medication not being effective and a repeat dose of the awful lombricera would be given. If it killed worms, I am surprised it did not kill some children. Purga and lombricera were necessary because mom said that if these worms were not expelled, they would try to come out through the mouth, nose or eye, and this fear certainly appalled children who were willing to go through that ordeal rather than be devoured by worms. One thing I can tell you kids today is that you should be glad you don‘t have to go through that as we did twenty five years ago.
- by Angel Nuñez, Columnist