Some cures for hiccups are all wet

Some cures for hiccups are all wet By Bob Karolevitz There's the old story about the guy who rushes frantically into the drugstore and blurts out: "Quick, how do you cure hiccups?"

The ever alert pharmacist forthwith grabbed a pitcher of water he had on the counter and threw the liquid into the fellow's face.

"See, they're gone," he said, confidently. And the drenched man responded: "Yes, but how about my wife out in the car? She's the one who has 'em."

I got to thinking about that ridiculous affliction which affects most of us now and then when I ran across an old clipping in my files. It said that hiccups were the Rodney Dangerfield of human maladies. They get no respect!

Right away I checked the Guinness Book of World Records and, sure enough, there was a category on the subject.

The longest recorded attack, the book said, was attributed to one Charles Osborne of Anthon, IA, who survived the condition for 68 years. It started back in 1922 when he was slaughtering a hog, he recalled, and every 1.5 seconds thereafter he hicupped for almost seven decades.

According to the Guiness account, it cost him his first wife, and he wasn't able to keep his false teeth in.

When Osborne died at age 98, an Associated Press story told how he had appeared on the television show That's Incredible and was featured in Robert Ripley's Believe It or Not. Once he offered $10,000 for anyone who could cure him of the ailment.

Apparently he never had to pay out.

The reward proposal brought him thousands of letters and calls, the AP report said, but no relief. He kept on hiccuping until he moved in with his youngest daughter, and all of a sudden the infirmity stopped.

It seems she prayed a lot!

There is no indication that he ever tried Thomas Assmar's famous hiccup-curing machine, a gadget with a platform something like a bathroom scale. It was hooked up to a motor which caused it to vibrate 92 times a minute as the patient drank a glass of water.

The invention supposedly was responsible for healing a lot of sufferers before the gizmo was hidden away after Assmar's death. It seemed that doctors pooh-poohed it.

Then the physicians got into the act by reporting in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine that a spoonful of sugar, taken dry, cured 19 out of 20 chronic hiccuppers. They didn't say anything about curing the Englishman which the Guinness book also said hiccuped so loud that you could hear him a mile away.

Actually there have been almost as many remedies for the affliction as there are cures for the common cold. Would-be healers had suggested putting a paper sack over the sufferers head, saying "boo" unexpectedly, ingesting plum preserves or, of course, throwing a pitcher of water into the victim's face.

The best bet, though, is probably what Charles Osborne's daughter used.

There's no panacea like the power of prayer!

© Robert F. Karolevitz

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