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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