More old wives’ tales that baffle nurses!

Thinkstock / Remains

Thinkstock / Remains

The other day I had a plumber in for back surgery. During his stay in the hospital, he told me that he had not eaten red meat in 10 years because, he said, red meat will stay in your colon, undigested, for your entire lifetime.

All you can say to that is, “Oh.”

I’ve heard other old wives’ tales (or young plumbers’ tales) over the years. One woman insisted that her stroke had nothing to do with years of untreated diabetes and high blood pressure; instead, it happened because her mother-in-law had put the evil eye on her.


Or the patient who explained, with complete seriousness, that she could only drink water that had been through some sort of process whereby it was exposed to the sun for four hours a day. Because, of course, regular water was somehow bad for a person.


We get plenty of folks in the hospital who are from places other than the U.S., so I’m relatively familiar with cupping, needling, the theory of hot and cold foods, and things you can and cannot do during certain times of the month. Those practices don’t strike me the same way as our native O.W.Ts do. Like:

You can’t eat tomatoes with any other food, because tomatoes will cause things to petrify in your stomach.

You need to have surgery during the waning moon, so whatever it is they remove won’t come back.

Organs transplanted into a person will either haunt them or take them over in some sort of zombie-organ way.

Cucumbers are bad because…well, cucumbers. Cucumbers are apparently responsible for 90 percent of all evil in the world. (To be fair, I feel that way about turnips.)

What old wives’ tales (or young hippies’ tales, or middle-aged bankers’ tales) have you heard?


Agatha Lellis

Agatha Lellis is a nurse whose coffee is brought to her every morning by a chipmunk. Bluebirds help her to dress, and small woodland creatures sing her to sleep each night. She writes a monthly advice column, "Ask Aunt Agatha," here on Scrubs; you can send her questions to be answered at

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6 Responses to More old wives’ tales that baffle nurses!

  1. Amandaholbein

    I’m a hospice nurse and more than a few times people have told me… the window….to let the spirit out?????

  2. qaqueen RN

    To prevent a patient from dying on your shift, tie the bedding to the bed frame.

  3. Lisa Tzivanis Wagner

    How about “if the baby is exposed to wind (as a newborn) he/she will get colic”

  4. lhoneychuck RN

    Place a bar of soap under the mattress to prevent leg sores . I have heard this several times in my lifetime

  5. euronurse

    Apparently if you eat something cold (like icecream), drink something cold or go to the shower or swim in the sea one hour after eating normal food, your digestive system will stop and you will….die.


    My neighbor turned my 2week old son upside down to “shake him for Liver-Grown”….prevents enlarged liver therefore preventing
    The ” need for liquor.”