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The thing is, L’il Sis and I have different areas of expertise when it comes to any health-related crisis. I can research a number of different potential ailments and make a fairly reasonable diagnosis, deduce what the doctor will likely conclude the illness is and from that, extrapolate whether or not it’s worth going to see someone about. I am also good at reading highly specialist medical journals, understanding rare ailments and explaining these things in easy to understand and less frightening language.

L’il Sis approaches things from a different perspective. She’s wary of science and medicine, having learned the hard way that they don’t always have anything like a useful solution. So she does what The Mom trained us to do: she uses food as a medicine.

She has vitamins and supplements that can sort out your digestion, make your hair shiny, fix athlete’s foot and basically cure what ails you. Sort of. In some cases, the results are as good as any medical doctor, and the only side effects are gas and a weird garlicky or roast chicken smell (she is, and now the rest of them are as well, addicted to oregano oil, which seems to work for them, but it does leave the entire house with a whiff of roast chicken about it, which of course the dogs all love).

Over the years, The Mom’s perspective on medicine and ways to cure or treat illnesses and ailments has changed. When we were younger her solution to pretty much everything was take two Tylenol and lie down for an hour. Tylenol and naps cured pretty much everything. And then, sometime when we were teenagers she had a migraine that she couldn’t shift for love nor money.

Her curtains remained closed for a week. She didn’t eat, and the rest of us existed (happily, I might add because we thought we were getting away with something) on instant noodles and sauce packets. She didn’t go for a walk, she didn’t do anything but lie in bed and pray that it would pass. We were used to this sort of thing, as she’d had migraines since forever, but this one was lasting for longer than any of us could remember and we had to intervene. I won’t tell you how we finally managed to get her feeling better, on the advice of one of my many lawyers, but suffice to say if she lived in the State of California, it wouldn’t have been a problem.

Anyhow, once she was up and moving around again, I suggested she go and see my massage therapist, the one I’d been seeing since blowing my knees out. She went and was a woman transformed. Eventually he put the both of us on to acupuncture and again, utterly transformed. The Mom was a reluctant participant in acupuncture the first time round, but when it cured her migraine, she was a paid-in-full believer.

So now that the seal’s been broken, and she’s drunk the Kool-Aid, she’s willing to try pretty much anything if there’s a chance it’ll work. And this is of course where L’il Sis comes in, bearing the fits of years of experience at a health food store and numerous nutrition courses.

The both of them, and even Crazy D, himself also a follower of the Vitamin and Supplement cult, have, at various times tried to get me to imbibe as well. I’ve never been much of one for peer pressure though and am a hard sell at the best of times. I haven’t busted this one piece of research out on them yet, I’m holding it back for when they really gang up on me but there are recent scientific studies that say vitamins don’t do anything. I do believe there’s also a reputable study that posits they’re harmful. I’d mindful not to mention any of this when I’m home visiting, lest I be dragged down to the local hippie depot and force-fed things that will throw my Crohn’s into revolution.

And then there’s the other thing that I try to point out when L’il sis really gets going: what I have are incurable diseases. And viruses will naturally work their way out of your system. There are just some things for which there isn’t a fix. Some things are just broken. Best to adjust one’s mind and carry on in that case.