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Lost: Male Red Nose Pit Bull, "Chevy," wearing an orange collar, friendly, last seen on County Road 403. 830-477-6511 or 830-534-9094.

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South Texas Living

A turpentine remedy ... unforgettable!

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Julia Castro
Apple Pie and Salsa
May 9, 2012 | 2,145 views | Post a comment

He didn’t yell at me. Not that I expected him to. He didn’t even scold me. I had thought maybe he would.

I have a condition that I had let go way too long. I have seen him many times, but I had never brought it to his attention. I guess he has seen his share of people with my condition in all his years of practicing medicine. That’s why he is calm and collected. He can’t afford to let himself get upset, for his health. But I can’t help remembering when he did yell at me.

Growing up, some of our kids were prone to ear infections. Maybe they took after me. I used to get earaches like crazy, growing up and even into adulthood. This time it was Deedee. She had awakened with an earache.

I grabbed the little bottle of the spirits of turpentine. It had been recommended to me by Henry’s aunt, “Mila.” She said it was good for earaches, so I always kept some on hand. It came in a little amber-colored bottle, and I would buy it at the drugstore.

It had worked before. This time when I put a drop in Deedee’e ear that was hurting, she started screaming and jumping up and down. She scared me so much that I couldn’t get her to the doctor fast enough.

I hadn’t been to this particular doctor for either myself or the kids. He was new in town -- the new kid on the block, you might say. Deedee was in her teens, but she was crying like a baby. They called us in almost right away. The doctor asked me what was wrong and I told him and also what I had put in her ear.

I think all he heard was “turpentine,” because he did start yelling (well, talking very loud). He asked me, “How could you do that?” By then, others in the office became alarmed and they asked him what was wrong. He replied, pointing a finger at me, “She put turpentine in this child’s ear!” By then, it was no use trying to convince him that it was medicinal. He washed out Deedee’s ear and that’s all I remember.

I was so embarrassed. I suppose he gave me something else for her. It was a good while before I went back to him. I was afraid he would think, “Here comes that crazy woman.”

He has been my primary doctor for many, many years. And if he feels that I need to see a specialist, which I have many times, he will refer me to them. He is always patient with me, explaining everything thoroughly about his diagnosis and treatment for whatever ails me. He recently became an author, and he encourages me in my writing.

By now you must have guessed who my doctor is. I don’t think Dr. Harry Chavez minds my writing about this unforgettable (to me) event. As for the spirits of turpentine, which is an oil, it is still sold today. I found it online.

People use it for wounds, bruises, and inflammations. An ear infection would come under that, I would think. One local pharmacy sells something similar. Anyway, I don’t keep it in my medicine cabinet anymore.

And Deedee -- well, she now works in Dr. Chavez’s office alongside her sister Loretta. Dr. Chavez will be my doctor until ... whenever.

Julia Castro, a retired Head Start teacher and mother of 10, lives in Floresville with her husband, Henry. Her email is

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